Turning the Tide
I have come to realize if I only write when I have an assignment and a deadline, that's all I'll ever do and my contributions to our A/P writing ministry project will be minimal. I'm trying to prayerfully think through my motives and then push myself to not just write more, but also submit things. So… for me this meant setting a personal goal to submit three essays or short stories to literary journals between now and May.
My First Serious Writing Contest
So I am 1 for 3. Three weeks ago I submitted an essay to a literary magazine holding a writing contest. It was a big step for me because this wasn’t an assignment—I didn’t have to do it, and nobody would know if I wimped out and didn’t submit it at the last minute.
#1 – That’s why as step #1, I consulted a writing mentor. I explained where I was with the issue and got some much needed encouragement and advice from someone who’d already been down this road. Beyond the valuable advice, I also had someone to keep me accountable and ensure I went through with it.
#2 – Next I prioritized my life around the submission. I immediately discovered an invisible clause of Murphy’s Law: the contest deadline will always be at the worst possible time—in my cause in the middle of General Conference when we were swamped with an unprecedented amount of work at the College. My testimonial out of this is that you can write no matter how busy you are—if you really want to. I cancelled my personal life (no emails, phone calls, or going anywhere other than work/church/home). I set a schedule and at 11:00 each night stopped wherever I was with work and then wrote till 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. I’m not saying it didn’t almost kill me, but it got done.
#3 – I obsessed about every last word. I had trusted readers pour over the piece and give me very constructive comments to strengthen it. I read, re-read, and re-read over and over until I’d seen the work from every angle and was completely satisfied with it. The end result was the most genuine piece I’ve ever written—not just a neat idea I hammered out one evening, but something deliberated over and methodically crafted. In this step I learned the value of perfecting our craft.
It's Not So Bad
I’m relieved it’s over, but more so I’m really gratified for the experience. We make submitting for publication such a psychological thing because of the vulnerability and rejection factor. Maybe with all of that we've taught ourselves to unnecessarily dread the process. The bottom line, whether or not our work gets accepted, we're developing our craft and building a culture (helped along through this Word blog) that can foster other writers. And slowly but surely in Jesus' name, we are seeing A/P writers break into the literary published world and give our faith a presence.
Dear aspiring writer, what are you doing to help give A/P culture a voice? What goal can you set toward releasing your work into the great unknown (yet beckoning) arena of the published word?