By Christa MacDonald
Recently, one beautiful Saturday, I hit the plant shops with my two youngest kids and bought annuals for the mailbox planter and a few herbs for the kitchen garden. Massachusetts has a short growing season and, although I begin the season planting from seed, I end up buying some to enjoy the color until fall. As I was driving away from the shop, off to the next errand, I was thinking about the $40 I had just dropped on plants. Money is tight enough that $40 is no joke. The herbs I would cook with, but the rest were purchased for their beauty alone. I found myself struggling to come up with some practical purpose for them to rationalize the expense.
I have this same struggle when I spend money on my writing. My books don’t make a ton of money. When I spend on book promotions, editing, or conferences am I indulging myself? I wonder, is this selfish? Is this vain? God put me on this planet to share the Gospel and to serve others. Is that what I’m doing?
I wish I could say I had one of those moments of confirmation, where a reader shares that a book I wrote led them to Christ or to a deeper faith, but I haven’t. There are times writing feels a bit like shouting into the void, hoping that someone hears, hoping that the words I write have a meaning beyond their life on the page.
The truth is if you want to write well, then you need to invest in your craft. Whether it’s an editor’s services, books on skills, or a writer’s conference, spending money and time on your writing is a good thing. The best money I have ever spent in pursuit of becoming a better author was attending the ACFW conference last year. It was the first writing conference I had ever been to and every class I took provided information I both needed and had a hard time finding on my own. My second-best purchase was hiring a development editor. I strongly recommend both of these if expenses allow. There are less expensive options too, like online workshops and classes, and some editors offer first 50 page evaluations. Do be careful to research your options well. There’s a lot of shady offerings too.
But, let’s go back to the questions above. Is it selfish to spend money like this? The answer to buying a plant is the easy one. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gardening brings me joy and peace. It’s not the same as the joy and peace found through prayer, fellowship, or worship, but it’s tangible and sweet to my soul. It also delights my family and neighbors. Since there’s no law against it, literally, I plan to keep it up. I’m enough of a Yankee in my spending to keep from dropping my next paycheck on it, so I can trust myself to pursue my floral joy.
The answer to the second question is the one I use for everything I spend my time on – I pray. Being in communion with God lets me know when I’m off down a rabbit trail instead of on the right path. If you’re struggling with whether to invest your time or your cash in your writing, pray. Don’t listen to the doubts about your skill or your worth. Listen to God instead.The truth is if you want to write well, then you need to invest in your craft. @CricketMacD #ACFWBlogs #ACFWConference2018 #writing Click To Tweet
Christa MacDonald is a 2017 Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction. When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, gardening, or attempting something crafty. She and her family live along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at www.christamacdonald.com