By Michelle Shocklee
“… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Writing for publication is a lot like running a race. No two runners are built exactly the same, and they all enter the race with different strengths, different training methods, and different hopes and dreams. We can say the same about writers. Each of us is equipped with different talents, different backgrounds, different educations, and even different goals.
In the years before I received my first book contract, I watched many of my fellow authors dash ahead of me. They signed with agents. They received contracts. Others pulled far ahead with multiple book deals, leaving me behind in their dust. While I was happy for them, I also wondered, “When will it be my turn?”
An interesting fact about a running track is that the lanes are all the same width, same length, and are formed with the same curvature. No runner has an advantage over another. Each athlete is assigned a lane and must stay in it to run the race. Does that mean all the racers will cross the finish line at the same time? Nope.
This reality holds true for writers too. Each of us has a race marked out by our Creator. He’s given us different gifts, different experiences, and different paths to publication. I can’t look into the lane of multi-published authors and wish I was running their race. I have no idea what obstacles and challenges they’ve faced. All I see are beautiful stacks of books with their names on them.
Some good advice from the world of running can absolutely be applied to writing for publication:
1. Keep training. Just as an athlete has to continually work to stay in top form, we writers must do the same. Attend conferences. Join local writing groups. Read blogs and books on how to improve your writing. Read books in your genre. Never stop learning about the craft of writing.
2. Get back up. When a runner falls down, they have to get back up in order to finish the race. When we writers receive rejections, we have to keep writing. If the agent or editor took time to explain the reason for the rejection, learn from it. If not, find someone to critique your work and help locate the holes and weaknesses.
3. Listen to your Coach. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. Prayer, Bible reading, fasting. All keep us in close communication with Him, which in turns helps us run the race He marked out for us.
4. Enjoy the scenery. Don’t get so caught up in the race to publication that you neglect to embrace all the wonderful experiences along the way. Develop lasting friendships with fellow authors. Connect with a prayer partner. Cheer for the authors who receive contracts and buy their books. One day soon it will be your turn!
I’m thankful for the race God put me on all those years ago. At times I felt like I was barely moving down the track, but I was making progress with each step, each manuscript, and each submission. My debut novel, The Planter’s Daughter, released in March 2017. The second book in the series, The Widow of Rose Hill, will release in February 2018, and I’m currently working on the third book. I’ll also have a novella in Barbour Publishing’s Mail-Order Bride Collection next year. The pace of my race has certainly picked up!
Fellow runners, keep racing! You never know what’s waiting for you around the next bend.
Michelle Shocklee is the author of The Women of Rose Hill series, a historical romance series set in Texas. She and her husband of thirty years make their home in the Texas hill country on a 400-acre ranch where they work as Estate Caretakers.