By Davalynn Spencer
This winter as I highlighted passages in a writer’s magazine, dog-eared favorite pages in a how-to book on fiction, and sucked the life-blood of encouragement from the tale of a successful writer’s personal journey, I recognized a note of familiarity.
I’d read it all before.
Was there nothing new under the publishing sun?
Since embracing professional development for my embryonic career as a novelist, I had attended conferences, read industry publications, and targeted online sites. I followed agency blogs and treated my writing like a job rather than a hobby.
And I believed.
I’d taken to heart the lessons I’d read and listened to. I acknowledged the truth in all the great teaching I’d received. And assuming a serious disciple’s demeanor, I solemnly nodded my head and declared, “Yes, it is good.”
Hearing and believing were easy. Comfortable. They cost me nothing but time and a little money.
But would I act on what I believed?
A familiar phrase looped through my mind that wintry evening: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 NKJ).
Those words sent me to my in-home office with fresh determination. I picked up the sacrificial knife of revision, opened my current manuscript file, and sliced through the precious backstory.
A joyful discovery followed. When I cut away all those beautiful, oh-so-important words, my story didn’t hemorrhage as I’d feared. It flourished. The teachers were right!
Further revision scattered bits and pieces of that backstory throughout the manuscript in just the right places. I doled it out like freshly baked cookies-one or two at a time, rather than cramming the entire batch down the reader’s throat all at once.
In the next few days, I sent sample chapters to my targeted agency and received a reply recommending further bloodletting. I complied and resubmitted. The agent offered a contract and today editors are considering my manuscript as a possible project.
All because of the doing.
I could have read and read and read some more. I could have nodded my head and raised my hand and said, “Yes, I believe.” But until I applied what I’d been learning and acted on what I believed, nothing happened.
Writing is a lot like faith. Learning about it is good for the soul, but doing something about it makes all the difference.
Davalynn Spencer is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and author of the devotional book Always Before Me. She is an adjunct professor of writing at a Colorado community college and a columnist for the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys. Her romantic suspense is represented by Hartline Literary Agency.
Good for you! The constant learning is important, but at some point you have to move, act on it, and that’s the scary part.
You phrased it so well, Davalynn. So often we needlessly fear those revisions, when they actually strengthen our work.
Oh so true, Davalynn. There are suggestions for improvement I resist like crazy, but when I finally buckle down and do them, the experts are right! Thanks
So true! Faith without works is dead!