By Connilyn Cossette
Writing a second book, under contract, and after you’ve actually written most of the third is a daunting prospect. But that is what I was faced with when delving into Shadow of the Storm, the second book of the Out from Egypt series. I spent weeks writing things and deleting them. I spent weeks asking myself if I could even fix the giant holes that seemed to be forming in this story and concluded that maybe, just maybe I didn’t really even have a story to tell there. Discouragement began tapping on my door.
And then, after patching together about thirty percent of the book, I let one of my writing partners–the super-honest-tell-it-like-it-is-writing-partner read my story. And yes, she confirmed my fears. There was little-to-no plot. It meandered. It dragged and sagged and just basically was going nowhere, slowly. My other writing partners agreed.
Discouragement opened up the door, walked in, and took a seat next to me.
Add my struggles with my manuscript to some personal struggles I was dealing with and Discouragement put up its feet and settled in for a nice long visit.
Maybe you’ve been in this valley where every word seems like a slog, where nothing you actually do get written down seems any good, where your plot is so tangled that you are ready to just toss the whole snarled mess in the trash. Maybe you are there right now.
We have two choices in that valley. We can either give in to Discouragement and give it free reign to derail us, or we can push forward and lean into the challenge.
During this period I began to change my perspective about myself, and the way I dealt with difficulties in my life. God kept bringing up reminders that the Way is not supposed to be easy. Followers of Jesus are actually told to expect suffering, trial, and difficulty. And so, instead of throwing up my hands in defeat, which has been my pattern much of my life, I began to ask the Lord what it was He was trying to teach me inside the struggle.
And guess what? Nothing got easier. Every chapter in that book was still difficult to write. I cut chapters, I reworked the boring ones, I slashed and burned and wrestled with that plot–but what came out of it was far better than I had hoped.
All that wrestling brought me to a place where I really allowed myself to be honest on the page, to dig deeper into some of my own struggles and wounds. The experience truly changed me and transformed my snarled mess into a story I really love.
We are so conditioned to ask the Lord to take our struggles away that we rarely ask Him to reveal what He is doing in the depths of that valley.
What if it is in the valley that God shows himself to you in a really tangible way? What if through wrestling with that manuscript you become a far better writer? What if you finally scrape the bottom of your own efforts and God takes over and speaks through you in a brand new way?
Sure, it’s great when the words flow and your story is a clear, straight road in front of you but perhaps we can also learn to give thanks for the times when the way is a rocky, winding path. As we look expectantly for God to walk alongside us in those valleys He will do the work of transforming us into the writers He created us to be.
So kick Discouragement to the curb and embrace the struggle.
Connilyn Cossette is the author of the Out from Egypt series with Bethany House Publishers. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible, uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus, and weaving them into fiction. Her latest book Shadow of the Storm releases October 18. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.