Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Secret to success #2 - courage

Courage. It's a word made for heroes, right? People who are thrust into extraordinary circumstance and do what must be done to protect themselves, their children, their friends, their world. We hear about them all the time (though not nearly as much as we should) and are astounded by their bravery and selflessness. Perhaps we aspire to be like them, or wonder, if met with similar circumstances, whether we'd live up to the example they've set. Whatever the case, we admire their bravery and are in awe of their ability to overcome. They have stepped outside themselves, given what they had, offering it up as a sacrifice and sometimes losing much in the process.

What does this have to do with writing?

I'm getting there. Slowly. Because I'm moving slow this morning. See, I got up this morning thinking about the extraordinary nature of the ordinary. Every day we get up and go about our lives. If you're like me, that means trudging through loads of laundry, dirty dishes, layers of dirt and cat hair. It means planning meals, buying groceries, separating squabbling kids, giving out Band aides, hugs, and words of advice (that are most often ignored). It means supervising, cleaning, cooking, listening, loving, teaching. So many ordinary things. Yet, that in itself becomes extraordinary, because it requires sacrifice of self. The thing is, I don't want to cook dinner for the hundredth night in a row, I don't want to sweep the floor, do the laundry, put away the millionth dish of the month. I don't want to work hard every day and feel that I've accomplished nothing, do the dishes only to have to do them again and again and again, sweep the floor and find a trail of crumbs five minutes later. Yet I do it, knowing that in so doing I am providing a wonderful environment for my children to thrive. And isn't that every mother's God-given purpose? To give her children wings so they might one day soar?

Which brings me to secret of success #2 - courage. Courage to do the same thing day after day after day, feeling as if no progress is being made, looking at words on paper, knowing there are 60,000 more left to write and setting to work writing them; courage to write the manuscript and look at it with objective eyes, to face the flaws and fix them, and then to mail it out even though we know it will never be what we want it to be; courage to embrace a God-given purpose, to find the path He's leading us on, and to stay the course even when it gets hard. Because it will be hard. Published or not, we'll always have critics. Our writing won't satisfy every reader every time, so our focus must be on pleasing the One who placed the creativity, imagination, and dream within us. We cannot be afraid to write what He puts on our heart, and we certainly can't be afraid to send it out into the world. Moreover, we cannot let fear of failure keep us from trying.

Successful writers fear rejection and criticism, but they have the courage to keep writing.

I leave you with this - Mark Twain said, "Courage is resistance of fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." I've thought about those words often in the past few months. We will always have fear. What moves us from ordinary to extraordinary, is not fearlessness, but our ability to give those fears over to God, to let Him do the worrying, while we continue the work He's given us.


Jennifer Tiszai said...

Timely post for me. This seem to be the one thing I have to deliberately remind myself of lately. This is not an easy business to be in and to keep at it in face of all the difficulties certainly takes a large dose of courage. Daily. :)

Sabrina L. Fox said...

It takes great courage to ship our "babies" off to the unknown.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Isn't that the truth? Letting the manuscript go is always hard for me. Not quite as hard as writing the first draft, but pretty close. The kids and I always wish it a fond farewell when we get to the post office. I always have to remind myself that if I waited to mail it out until it was perfect, I'd never mail it.