There are No Shortcuts

Me and my randomly scrawled notes…

I’ve thought about blogging this before, then thought, “Nah–it’s too bleak.”

But today during Sunday school, as we talked about growing in Christ and maturing in our Christianity, I realized it’s true: There are no shortcuts.

Same thing with marriage, or with parenting. You can read every book out there before you give birth, feel you’re prepared for any scenario. You’re not. Once you have kids, you might think you know exactly what you’ll do and how you’ll answer them on things. You don’t.

Such a large portion of our wisdom comes from experience. I might have read the book of I Samuel in the Bible about fifteen times (I like reading about King David, ya’ll), but each time I will spot new verses that apply to me right where I am. I know this is because the Bible is holy, but it’s also because each time I read I’ve experienced more of life and I understand things better.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand things when we’re young parents or young Christians. But we can’t expect to understand everything right away.

As a writer, I hate to tell you, but there are no shortcuts. I didn’t believe this when I was starting out. I’d read the instant-success stories of the handful of writers like Stephenie Meyer or Amanda Hocking and think, “That’s me. I can do that. I know I can write.”

I know how much it stinks to get the “Keep working on your craft” agent response. Trust me–I ignored it for as long as possible. But once I got in a critique group, I realized my writing wasn’t perfect. It had some holes I needed to fix. And once I got an editor, I realized there were tighter ways of saying the things I wanted to say.

And once I got an agent, I realized proposals are a serious undertaking, and it’s worth taking the time and effort to get them shiny-bright.

Right now, my Viking historical novel is still on submission. I’ve edited it and it’s as close to perfect as I can get it (with my agent/editor’s help!). But I realize that if a publisher picks it up, I might have to make more adjustments. I’m ready to do that. I can’t say I would’ve been so malleable with my first novel (I didn’t even want to add 30K words so it would be taken seriously…).

I know it rots to hear writers say, “I’ve been at this for ten years and this is my tenth book…and it’s the first one I’ve gotten published.” But the truth is that it takes time to learn how to fit into the market. And with fewer bookstores and publishers, we either have to learn to fit or decide to self-publish. Listen, I admire whichever path you choose, because nothing about getting published is easy.

The path to becoming a writer is a long one, for almost every one of us. It can be relentlessly disappointing. But once you get to the point where you know you’re a writer, it’s so much easier. At that point, the only thing that can stop you is yourself (or God, in which case, I’d definitely stop!).

I’m reminded again of the verse below. Note the “in due season…”

****What have you discovered has no shortcut?  Parenting? Marriage? Writing? Homeschooling? Fill us in!****

19 thoughts on “There are No Shortcuts

  1. Thank you, Cynthia–I didn't want to be too bleak, but it's something I surely didn't realize when I was starting out. We live in such an "instant gratification" society–it's easy to question God when we don't see things happening quickly.

  2. Super post, Heather. It might appear bleak on the surface but it is about time our culture learned that life is a journey of ups and downs, and reward only follows hard work and persistence. Too many people seem to want the reward first, or without work.We are supposed to learn from mistakes and effort. Hard work begets character and fortitude, and humility. These things make us better people in all things.Writing is no different. Yes, a lot of luck is involved, but it is a game of persistence, and new writers need to acknowledge that, so that they can have faith and avoid disappointment when everything doesn't happen with the first book. 🙂

  3. Heather,I think one of the best things we can do for ourselves along this journey is to find others along the way who can help hold our toes to the fire (or our fingers to the keyboard in this case) when we DO grow weary of doing good. Editors, reading/writing groups, family members, others who believe in us, especially when we start doubting ourselves. I'm so glad for my writing buddies, for their support, for their encouragement, for their listening ears and broad shoulders. And I'm glad to return the favor, too, knowing that we're in this together.Thank you for posting this. I think it's a good reminder of what's important. Graeme made some great points, too – how much more precious is something when we've had to fight for it?!Hugs,Becky

  4. Yes, so true, Becky and Graeme! My hubby was just saying that some of the best virtues spring from adversity–for example, courage can only emerge in the face of fear. Still, I know we'd all skip the hard times and long waits, if we could!

  5. Oh–such a wonderful scripture passage! That's so important to remember…in due season. I think we all get caught up in knowing what we want and wanting it NOW, and fail to realize that God's timing is ALWAYS better. This should keep me going through my submission of my own work to agents right now–I get so impatient!

  6. I think this is a great post. Not so much bleak as realistic! I think writing is a lot like our Christian walk; it's never finished. It's always a process. There's always something new to learn.

  7. Thanks, Diane! I suppose it's an exciting and good thing that we'll never "arrive" as a Christian until we're in heaven, then the sanctification process will be done. But I wonder if writers "arrive?" To look at it, you'd think Stephenie Meyer or John Grisham or Karen Kingsbury have made it to the top. Still, maybe they never do, in their minds!

  8. Over the years I've come to realize, Nothing worth having comes easy! I don't think this is a dark post, I think it's helpful, realistic and hopeful! God will help us…we can't give up (unless He tells us to, then we better listen)

  9. Great post, Heather! I don't think it's "bleak", it's realist. I believe anything that's worthwhile in life isn't going to have shortcuts. Success is much sweeter when you've put in the hard work and effort. Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Yes, TC–nothing good in life comes free (except salvation!). And Sarah, yes, I had parents who rooted for me right from the start (hope I'm a parent like that)! And Jill, I know you're putting in the effort now w/your NaNo! How's it coming along? Hope you ALL have a great Thanksgiving!

  11. I just found you from your link on the blog/writing post on Novel Rocket. I didn't find this bleak at all, and in fact I found it tremendously supportive. Just because things aren't easy or instant, doesn't mean they aren't worthwhile.Thanks for the encouragement.

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