By Barbara J. Scott
Joy? “What’s joy got to do with writing?” the Grinch would say. Aren’t writers supposed to pour their blood, sweat, and tears onto the page? Aren’t we supposed to suffer for our craft?
I remember the first story I ever wrote for publication–The Milk Bottle Circus. I was in the fourth grade, and our teacher planned to compile our work into a book with a cover–a pink vinyl cover held together with brads. I had to give it my best.
At that point in my life, we lived in an old two-story house that was impossible to heat unless Mom closed off some of the rooms. So to avoid interruption from my active baby brother, I bundled up in my gray wool coat and knit gloves and shut myself into one of those unheated rooms. I needed silence! Despite my intense discomfort and nearly frozen fingers that could barely hold a pencil, I walked out of that room with a masterpiece. Then doubts assailed me. Was it good enough?
As the years passed, I made myself miserable with self-doubt, listening to that hyper-negative critic always whispering in my ear. When I became a Christian though, I was convinced the Lord had called me to write. I would write for His glory. I would deliver the message of the Gospel. I would be a serious writer. Climbing into the saddle of my big white horse named Legalism, I tilted at windmills like Don Quixote.
Finally discouraged, I turned away from my dream to write and “got a real job” as an acquisitions editor. I set out to become the best editor I could be, celebrating the talent of others, encouraging writers, coaching authors, talking them off the roof when they despaired. I knew their pain.
After I retired, feeling as if I’d missed God’s plan for my life, the Lord gave me a revelation: The joy of the Lord is your strength. Whaaatt? It couldn’t be that easy. I mean, seriously? But I felt Him nudging my spirit: Lighten up. Write for the sheer joy of it. Throw words on the page and trust me. Laugh, rejoice, stop suppressing your sense of humor. But, Lord, light-hearted fiction doesn’t change lives, I argued. You wanna bet? (He talks to me like that sometimes.)
So I sat down and wrote a historical romance novel for the sheer joy of it. Then I wrote a contemporary Christmas romance novella while recovering from major back surgery that will be released by Gilead Publishing in mid-October in their Sleigh Bells Ring collection.
Now I know what Paul meant when he wrote in Philippians 4:11: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I don’t know if theologians will agree with me, but I think people in heaven laugh a lot. I think Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit laugh and rejoice when we rejoice. As 1924 Olympic athlete and later missionary Eric Liddell once said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
Do you feel God’s pleasure when you write? If not, let the joy of the Lord give you the strength to fulfill His call on your life.
Barbara J. Scott, a Christian book editor for more than eighteen years with various CBA publishers, has recently returned to her first love–writing! She also acquires inspirational, agented suspense, romantic suspense, thrillers, action, adventure, and mysteries for Gilead Publishing. For more information, check out her website at www.BarbaraJScott.com.