Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When the Words are Gone - Hogg

(The following is a Guest post by best-selling author Elaine Ingalls Hogg, whose latest book Historic Sussex and Area, Nimbus Publishing Ltd., was launched on April 29th, 2010. She is also the author of two previous historic books and the editor of Christmas in the Maritimes (2006). Hogg writes an inspirational column for the Kings County Record and has had stories included in anthologies, magazines, newspapers, and CBC radio. Elaine lives near Sussex, N.B., with her husband, Hugh. For more information on Elaine, go to her website at )

In my last column, I wrote about a dream that revealed the solution to a problem. The problem? – finding a topic for my column.

When the ideas dry up or when I’ve collected a stack of rejection slips then thoughts of retirement flood my mind. Why write? It certainly isn’t for fame or money. Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006 reported that the average book in America sells about 500 copies. An article, “The 10 awful Truths About Book Publishing” by Steven Piersanti, President, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, June 15, 2009 states that, “The average book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.”
So the question that romps through my mind and the mind of several of my friends who are writers is this. “Why bother?”

This week I read about Jeremiah an author who wrote his story without the aid of a computer. He slaved over his futuristic prophecy until it was fit to show the king. On a winter night while sitting in front of a blazing fire, the king had his servant, Jehudi, read the story to him.

Judging from the king’s reaction to the story, I picture the colour rising in his face as he listened for he wasn’t pleased with what he heard. After Jehudi finished reading a section the king grabbed the scroll out of his servant’s hands, cut off that section with his knife and threw the words into the fire.

I can’t imagine how Jeremiah felt as he watched the flames lick the words on the parchment and turn them into a heap of ashes. To lose his work sent a more powerful message to the author than any formal rejection slip. Jeremiah didn’t have a back up disk to return to in order to revive his words. His hours of work were gone!

If Jeremiah was like most of the writers I know, he most likely experienced self doubt and asked the same familiar questions: Why am I writing? Is this the best use of my time? Did I really hear God telling me to write or am I wasting my time?

What did Jeremiah do? How did he react? He refused to give up. Instead, the Bible says, “He took out another scroll and dictated again to his secretary Baruch. He wrote everything that had been on the scroll King Jehoiakim had burned in the fire.” The part I like best about Jeremiah’s report on this setback is summed up in seven words, “Only this time he added much more.”

It’s tough to start over when setbacks and discouragement come our way. Whether the difficulties are the result of a health issue, come from rejection, or we experience a financial loss, going on isn’t as easy as pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. Fortunately, we don’t have to face life’s challenges alone. God has promised to give each one of us the courage we need to face whatever comes our way today.

May those of you who are discouraged with your writing find the strength, courage, and direction to begin again and like Jeremiah, discover God has given you the ability to, “This time add much more.”


Peter Black said...

Thank you for your perspectives and encouragement to those of us who write. Your excellent choice of illustration in Jeremiah's experience of Jehoiakim's rejection and destroying a portion of his work brings home the sense of loss we feel when we lose files of our work, or it receives negative criticism.
May you be encouraged in your work.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Jeremiah's example of rejection of a great one and helps us see how much folk in the Bible are like us.
Thanks for sharing this.

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