Now concerning spiritual gifts…there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians
Do not let the opening quote frighten you. I am not here to preach you a sermon—well, not the kind you imagine when you hear the Bible quoted. I am still going to talk about writing. However, I make no guarantees against getting a little writer preachy about it because I feel that every writer should give heed to what I have to say. (Don’t we all! But it’s my blog so I get to do it here.)
There’s nothing like the moment when a writer looks down to see his or her name on the cover of the book they hold in their hands. It’s a high that doesn’t fade with time or the number of times it is repeated. To have taken an idea existing in perhaps no more than a word, a feeling, or a brief snatch of song and, through hours upon hours of labor, magically have turned it into a story committed to print is not something every person can do. It is truly a divine gift.
Yes, I am boasting a bit. But, it is something every person who creates is entitled to do. If you paint, work in wood, cook, garden, whatever you do—wherever your gift lies, you should be justly proud of it. Pride is not the absolute evil it is made out to be. Pride is evil only when its boast lies not in achievement but superiority, not in being good or capable, but in being better than others. So, writers be proud of that name on the cover.
You will probably hear from those who love you—“When are you going to quit this nonsense? It’s never going to amount to anything.” Then one day on the tenth, or maybe the hundredth, read through/revision, they know everyone one was right—this is insane.
If you write and haven’t been there yet, you are either not paying attention as you turn out trash, you don’t know enough to know that that first draft is s@#t, or you are so blinded by your ego that you can’t see/don’t care that your supposed best seller is going to sell ten copies.
Let me tell you who will save you. It is the team you gather around you. You did not write this book alone. Even if you self-published, you did not put your name on the cover single-handedly.
Just take a look at that dedication page. Maybe I’m stranger than I imagine, but I don’t put people’s names there for naught. These are the people who inspire me, who encourage me, and sometimes I suspect even lie to me about how my writing touched them. I could not keep writing without these people.
The kings and queens among these folks are those who make the effort to review my books. Word of mouth is invaluable; a public review is gold—even if it’s just the stars without a written comment. Reviewers are marketers doing a job far beyond my abilities.
A friend recently commented that they wanted a book, but lacked the money to buy one. I have said repeatedly that readers are more important than money. My friend, I am still waiting to send you that book—give me the chance to prove it. That book in my hands with my name on the cover was created for the reader and without them, my gift is empty of meaning.
If you have plunked down cash or swiped a card to exchange an hour of your life, I owe you more than one of my books. I try each day to repay your contribution to that name on the cover by growing in the craft.
Then, there is the single great talent behind the scene—my editor. Editors, good writers cannot live without them. Yeah, they shred your brilliant prose, cut entire scenes and characters from the story, correct, cajole and chastise for sloppy grammar. But, they have read every word at least as many times as you have—and they are still right there.
Parents in the Emergency Room can be a trial to the nurse caring for their child with a cold. But they will shove that child into your arms and beg for you to do something--do anything when it’s a matter of the child’s life and death. Editors are the rescuers of the writer’s dying children.
While saving that story, they will remind you that all your passion, persistence, commitment, and dedication are about to give birth to a miracle. Knowing that, they are the defenders of the story, the advocates of that book receiving nothing but your best. From my heart with love for my fellow writers, if you write without an editor you are indifferent of those for whom you write, or a fool.
That sounds harsh, and I suppose it is, but that does not take away from the truth of it. Your name is on the cover, but that gift you have and all its manifestations are the product of many lives bonded together in the bigger story of life. Write well.