Tuesday, October 24, 2006


When should a writer try to get published in the mainstream? Writing is, after all, extremely competitive. And the path is choked with rejection.

Chatting with Andy Crouch, I actually found his advice on the matter quite freeing... a writer should only pursue being published if that writer is being called to do so, by some entity or by God.

Judging a call from God may not be straightforward, but Crouch says writers can take note of whether they're being encouraged by some audience (besides Grandma). If they're not, then they might want to pursue other paths.

Crouch is in good company with this straight-forward, if sobering, opinion. Flannery O'Connor once said, "There is no excuse for anyone to write fiction for public consumption unless he has been called to do so by the presence of a gift." (Mystery and Manners, p.81)

I find such hard statements oddly freeing... for even if the truth is that I have no gift and no one wants to publish me, the converse is likely to be true... if I have a gift, then, as Editor Shannon Hill notes, someone will call me into print sooner or later.

For advice on getting into print, see this interview with Edward Gilbreath of Today's Christian.


Blogger Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Good post. This is an area that I have struggled with for all of my writing "career." I tend to think, I have no gift, I have nothing to say, I should keep my writing confined to my journal. But then when editors think my submissions are worth publishing and when readers tell me that I helped or encouraged or inspired them...then I wonder, Maybe this "calling" that I've felt is real, maybe it actually is a gift. And maybe I need to keep doing something with it.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Anne Mateer said...

Good words. They encourage me this morning as I sit down to write and re-write what may or may not ever be published!

8:28 AM  
Blogger eph2810 said...

Those statements are very sobering, but I think also very encouraging.
I believe if God's plan is to get published, He will make the way straight.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Mary DeMuth said...

I agree. I've read emerging writers, some who have a gift and others who don't. It's important to have both the calling from God and the gift from God to pursue. After all, what's the point of going through all the heartache of publication if both aren't in place?

Someone once wrote to me that they'd tried to be published for decades to no avail. Startling! Did he/she have the gift? I don't know. But it seemed like a long time to fail at something.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

And yet, if I am never published, does that follow that I should never write? I believe God has different purposes for each of us. I write to be published (hopefully), yes, but I also write because I love it and learn from it.
Some days I rest in God's sovereignty. Some days I toss and turn in my paranoia.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have wrestled with whether being published is the goal of writing. And again, have come down to the idea of vocation or calling. I do what I do because I am called, and I do what I do as a public vocation because others have confirmed.

This also means I need to confirm in others what I see God doing so that they too may recognize a public calling.

And just to add another thought: my pastor once preached a whole sermon series from Hebrews 11 with the underlying theme that anything worth doing is worth doing even poorly. I think this could certainly apply to writing.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I felt God's call over a year ago, and sort of squashed it. Starting my blog last Spring was a way to see if I had the discipline and commitment that it takes to actually produce publishable material.

I am still hearing that Call, so I am taking baby steps into seeking publication, but I do know that the rejection is a formidable opponent to battle, even if I possess the gift, so this is timely advice about being certain.

After I all, I can still happily pursue writing as a hobby and not get squashed in the battle.

4:27 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

So good to hear from you all!

I think Andy's point was not so much that we shouldn't write at all, but that we should think seriously before embarking on what is a difficult journey to publication. He had also commented that people are crazy to write because they somehow think it's a viable career... thus, again, the need for a calling.

Also, Ed Gilbreath's advice has been so important to me. (see the whole interview for more) The idea that we should find out what our particular mission in writing is, and seek audiences accordingly, has been a great help.

To this, I used to want to just write certain kinds of things, for a select audience. Now, I realize that some of my best suits are devotionals, interview-type things, and inspirational materials.

Also, I find that people love to have me speak to them, even if it's just at a party. And, those letters to Grandma have been some of the best things. (One week, she apparently carted my letter around, and asked my dad to read it to whoever would listen!)

Anyhow, this is all just to say, keep writing... publication or not. :) Because I love to hear from you...

6:04 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...


Quite interesting, as well as the responses here.

I don't know....There are so many books on the library shelves and in the book stores, and surely many more that don't get that far. And out of those books, how many are critically acclaimed?

What I guess I'm getting at is the need I see to read widely to some extent, but my point here- selectively.

Ah, I'm a ramblin here. There are surely as many giftings in writing as there are genuinely gifted writers. It would be a better world, surely (I think) if more, or even everyone were readers.

Will end my proverbs here.

12:37 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Thanks, Ted... for that call to us to be readers. And, that, according to any editor I've ever heard wax proverbial, is essential to making us better writers, too. :)

7:31 AM  
Blogger S.Hunt said...

I enjoyed reading the comments posted. I've answered God's call to write, and each step of the way I've learned a little more about myself and about God's Will for me as a writer. Some days I get a little discouraged because I feel a little lost (like now) but I know if I continue to seek God's guidance, He will lead me to where and when He wants me to write.

I've just recently made a commitment by starting a blog too.
It was a little scary for me, because my first thought was, what if I can't come up with something to write and post. So it's been a step of faith, trusting that God would give me what He wanted me to write and He has been faithful to do so.

Does it matter that anyone read what I've written? At this point, for me, it's more about keeping my commitment to write and post weekly. God will take care of the rest in His own time.

So, to those of you who seem to walking down the same path, blessings to you.

11:45 PM  

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