The Damaged Author

Anyone can easily identify a person who has been damaged by life and in need of help.

The same is true with damaged authors.

If you are in this category, writing about your experiences and the lessons learned can be both cathartic and spiritually fruitful, but taking a damaged-life perspective into the professional world of book publishing will rarely work for anyone.

If you know someone who is discouraged, angry, bitter and living a tortured life, you should think twice about suggesting they publish a book for commercial purposes. Write it, yes. Publish it to the world, no.

Think of it this way, would you suggest to someone who us struggling with how others see them, to venture into a work where criticism and judging are part of the daily experience?

It would be like suggesting someone with an eating disorder enter an eating contest.

Bad idea.

About fifteen years ago when attending a national Christian conference, a woman approached and handed me a proposal for her book. I had never met her before that moment.

Her book proposal was a difficult tale of unspeakable abuse from her childhood by male relatives, even her father. Hers was the kind of past resulting from the presence of sin and evil in the world.

While God was most certainly in the process of dealing with and redeeming her past, when I suggested it wasn’t something I could recommend to a publisher, she quickly went into “damaged” mode, angrily suggesting I turned it down because all men were alike and I was probably abusing my own children.

I told her it was an unfair and unjust accusation against me and she quickly apologized with tears.

She was a damaged author. Many, many things needed to happen before she was ready to be exposed to the rigors of commercial publishing. Maybe the story needed to be written, reminding the writer of a life-process with God working throughout, but it probably needed to stay unpublished for a while. Maybe forever.

While agents and publishers send rejection notices every day because we cannot work with everyone, we can easily forget we are often rejecting damaged people, which can be wrenching.

Every time I press “send” on my email to an author I’ve decided not to consider working with, I think of the damaged authors who have responded in the past with angry replies borne out of the carnage of their earlier lives.

Today, my message is for authors who are damaged or authors who know someone who has been beaten up by life and the evil in it.

If you are an author working through the damage from your past, keep praying, look to Scripture, seek Godly counsel and community. God has you in the palm of his hand, the same hand, which dug the oceans, pushed up the mountains and threw the stars across the universe. They are strong hands and they won’t let you go. Keep writing. To some, writing thoughts and experiences about God’s work in your life is like etching in wet cement, which once dry and hard becomes part of the foundation on which you stand victorious over sin in this life.

If you know a damaged author, pray for them, pray with them, provide them encouragement and every spiritual fruit, which is part of your growing Christian life.

But probably best to recommend they avoid jumping right into commercial publishing for a while, even self-publishing.

Once God has given some victory over the damage, a book written with God’s strength and courage could be used to change lives.

For everything there is a season.


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