Define Success

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By Jennifer Sienes

I am not a published author. Let me repeat that-I am not a published author. Okay, technically, I suppose that’s not true. I’ve had some short stories and an article published. But since the majority of my time is spent on novel writing, that’s truly where my heart is. And it’s taken me quite some time (six years and counting) to be able to announce that I’ve not been published without following it up with excuses. You know what I mean-I haven’t been with it very long; it’s a process; it’s tough these days to break into the publishing industry… Because, to be honest, I struggle with putting umpteen hours in every week sitting at a computer without any evidence of “worldly” success.

And that’s the crux of the problem.

If I didn’t believe, with all my heart, that I was called to this crazy journey, I’d have hightailed it back to teaching years ago where I received tangible evidence of my success-and a paycheck! But God put the desire on my heart, blessed me with opportunity and repeatedly reminds me that I’m doing it for Him, not me. It just may be possible that my perception of success and His don’t quite look the same. And I know, unequivocally, that He’s more concerned with my character growth than seeing my name in print.

Some of my writer friends are baffled with this outlook, especially those who see the benefits of self-publishing. Isn’t the whole point of writing to get your work out there? I figure if God wants my work out there, He’ll make sure it happens-in His time. You can make so much more money if you self-publish! It’s not about the money, at least not for me. I’m not blind to the fact that some people truly need the income writing can bring, but if an income was a priority, I’d have stuck to my day job. And here’s the most-oft claim-When you self-publish, you have complete control. I hate to break it to you, but you never have complete control. And if you believe you do, I’d tread very carefully, because God just might decide to challenge you on that one.

I’m not against self-publishing, so please don’t be offended if that’s your path. And there may come a time that I’m led down that road, myself. But I have to follow God’s plan for my life, which will no doubt look different than yours, and that starts with discerning His will. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2.

The first writer’s conference I attended, Debbie Macomber was the keynote speaker. The title of her talk was How to Become an Overnight Success in Twenty Years. I appreciated her honesty, because the fact is, some may find success in a year, but most likely, it’ll take five or ten or twenty-whatever God’s timing may be for us. Delight yourself in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4. Stay true to the Lord, trust in His sovereignty and persevere in your path, and you will put a smile on His face. What more could we ask for?

Jennifer SienesJennifer Sienes has a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education. She was a 2013 Genesis Semi-Finalist and is a 2014 Genesis Finalist. She has three short stories published in the Inspire Faith and another short story A God-Colored Lens in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury released last month. She is represented by Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Literary Agency. Connect with her at

Comments 0

  1. Earl Nightingale defined success as the steady approach toward a worthy goal (not his exact words). And many authors have had hundreds of times had their manuscript sent back and still were phenomenal successes despite of it. While there are authors who are not fit for publishing and just don’t want to hear the truth, most that are turned down are turned down because they have something so novel to offer that the average lector -who generally is inundated with manuscripts and in the digital age where it doesn’t even cost postage maybe even more than ever in history- does not find the time to read every manuscript in detail. But “winners never quit and quitters never win”. And seeing you got a literary agency – these are people who stake their success on yours and therefore only will represent authors whom they think will evebtually succeed and make their efforts pay back, I think you won’t have to wait that much longer.

  2. Jennifer, my sentiments exactly. Great post. As I keep telling friends and family, it’s all in God’s timing.

  3. Excellent post, Jennifer. Thanks for reminding us to keep Him first in all we do and He will lead the way and open the doors that need to be opened.
    This spoke directly to my heart today.
    Thank you.

  4. What an encouragement these words were to me today as I have recently taken active steps upon this desire to be published some day. Your honesty and reference to Macomber’s workshop title made me chuckle.

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