A Writer’s Angst

I have two unpublished novel manuscripts that I’m about to revise yet again. With most of the publishers who handle Christian fiction based in the US, it’s hard for a Canadian or other nationality of writer to get accepted. (And do we really fit into a market largely aimed at a culture that’s at least subtly different from our own? But that’s another story or post… or rant.)

After a critique session at Write! Canada, one of the faculty graciously offered a phone-coaching session to help me see the bigger picture for my fiction. Where do I fit? What’s my target audience? My purpose? My message?

As we talked last week, some of that came together, but afterward I felt totally frustrated and out of my depth, ready to chuck it all and just write for fun. I’m not a big-picture person, my brain isn’t wired that way. How am I supposed to come up with this stuff?

Wait a minute, this was the same discouragement I’d carried with me to Write! Canada this year—where God set me straight to seek Him first instead of the work. Where I repented and thanked Him and renewed my joy.

No way am I going back there again. Instead, I prayed.

My thoughts flashed to Moses’ “Must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10b, NIV*) where he struck the rock and blew it big time.

Moses-style frustration has been my problem before. This time, seeing the connection broke the pattern and helped me get back on the path.

God knows the target audience for my fiction, if there is one. I don’t have to supply it, I just need to ask Him. He knows the best genre for me too, and He can help me recognize any signposts He has for me along the way. It’s not about me, and it’s not up to me alone.

Note to self: Stop trying to do God’s job.

Seek Him first.

11 thoughts on “A Writer’s Angst

  1. Heather Marsten

    Thank you for this reminder. As I pen my memoir, I often wonder if there will be a way to get it published, and God often reminds me that He is in it, just keep writing. To keep seeking Him. Heather

    1. janetsketchley

      Amen, Heather. If He’s in it, we’re to keep at it until/unless He says it’s time to stop. “Seek Him first” is something I keep hearing lately. God bless and equip you as you craft your memoir.

  2. B. Wamboldt

    Why do we think we need to help God? Possibly because of our nurturing natures? Anyway, you’ve thrown your Moses frustrations over the cliff and given God the lead. Congratulations! Love, Mom

    1. janetsketchley

      The frustrations keep climbing back up that cliff, but I’m going to keep kicking them off again. It’s a choice I can make as long as I remember to do it! I think it’s another aspect of the whole “take every thought captive to Christ” message. Thanks for so much love and encouragement for so many years!

  3. Mary Waind

    Been camping on Romans 15:13, “joy and peace as you trust in Him” (NIV), and anticipating great big doors opening for you as you trust, Janet.

    1. janetsketchley

      Mary, this same verse is the one the pastor used in benediction this morning in the church we visited (a body where the spirit felt the same as at Write! Canada worship). The biggest joy and peace is Him… and the best gift. Thanks for encouraging me!

  4. Belinda

    Dear Janet, You came to Write! Canada with angst? And you unselfishly spent so much time praying about mine? I have tears of gratitude.

    I’m just listening to Anne Frank’s Diary in audio book–she wrote, never realizing the impact of her writing or thinking that this would be her “great work.” Yet look at the impact of this simple outpouring from a true writer’s pen–a young girl who simply had to write and loved to do it above all else.

    I’m so glad I read the samples of your writing because I can say unequivocally, keep going and don’t give up. As Jane Kirkpatrick once titled her workshop at a previous Write! Canada, “Don’t Let the Harpies Get You Down!”

    And I don’t think Canadians have to “fit” with the U.S culture. We are unique and can stand as who we are. If we try to be “American” we will only be hiding our lights under a bushel. I am sure they will love us for ourselves.

    1. janetsketchley

      You know what, Belinda, I think that’s why our prayer group was able to pray so fervently for you and a few others with the same need. We all related! And I’m so glad to have been a part of that time.

      Anne Frank sounds like an amazing writer, and I hadn’t thought of it but of course she didn’t write her diary for publication–just because she had to communicate.

      Canadians do need to be ourselves. Having more publishers for Canadian Christian fiction would open some amazing floodgates, I think. At Write! Canada, Jeff Gerke said, “so why don’t you start one?” This “Moses” needs to see a bush burn for that idea, I think!

  5. jancoxabetterway

    Just got to reading all the emails. Kids have gone home. The VIBE is finished for another year. Planning for Poland now. No time to write! Hoping to get UTCOP finished for the 2 weeks I am away.

    Love this post. Walk through the fear. Keep going until God tells you to stop. You are writing for an audience of one and He will make it bigger or not.


  6. violet

    You’re usually so busy helping other people on their writing journeys, you rarely write about yours. Thanks for sharing this little insight. You are an inspiration in more ways than one!


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