I became a writer in 1993. Well, actually, that is a lie. I became a published writer, with my first article appearing in a magazine, in 1993. I started writing years before. I just kind of stunk at it for a long while.
The evolution from writing to getting published involved a single-minded focus on my message, finding my voice, loving the reader enough to write in an understandable way, persisting, and a lot of getting over myself.
And not necessarily in that order.
Finding my subject and focus was never a problem. I wrote about what I loved - healing prayer. But sending in my first manuscript was a bit like sending a picture of my kid to the "Most Beautiful Baby" contest. I couldn't believe others didn't see it the way I did!
To sum up the politely written form letter that came back, in the fewest possible words, it read: No way, José.
So I did what any self-respecting writer, who was thrilled by the sound of her own writing voice, would do. I tweaked and snipped and primped and plumped the article, changed the title, and sent it in again. This time the response was more personalized: No way, José. And don't think you are fooling us. We know it is the same piece.
Well, I thought, at least they remember me!
Some get discouraged by rejection. I get more determined. I junked the first article and wrote another one. I got the same general response, with a little more: No way, José. Try again. And here are a couple of writing guidelines.
So, I wrote a new piece following the recommendations. It was rejected, too. And the process repeated itself another five times (nine tries altogether), with increasing instructions, corrections and tips coming back from the editors.
After the ninth one went in, I received a life-altering, writer-making letter from an anonymous editor, who walked me through the writing process, step-by-step. It was four pages long, front and back, hand-written. And it included some of the best direction I could have asked for on writing in a winning way.
They realized I would never quit. It was either help me, or put up with me forever. But I was not going to stop writing.
My tenth manuscript was accepted for publication. And although it was edited beyond recognition, it went to print. I knew that a wall had been scaled, a battlefield had been conquered, and a published writer was born.
The struggle was never with editors. The struggle was getting over a false sense of self. Seeing my persistence, and witnessing my gradual release of self-conceit and human will, the editors became essential mentors, helping me to communicate my good ideas more effectively.
Mary Baker Eddy, a successful writer who also once struggled to get published, wrote, "Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you, — and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory." (Miscellaneous Writings, 118)
Writing can open wonderful doors. For three years, I had difficulty getting an office in Paris because my work as a Christian Science practitioner didn't fit under any of the recognized categories of professions in France. And in this country, if you don't fit under a category, you don't exist and can't get compulsory insurance.
In 2009, I finally found an agent who asked me to tell him every activity I engaged in at work. Among other things, I told him that I frequently write for magazines. He replied, "That's it! There is the answer! You are an "ecrivain publique" - a public writer."
Do you love to write but get stuck sometimes? The Bible can be a great source of inspiration and support. Here is a helpful link to Bible verses that address an aspiring writer's doubt, need for inspiration, and writer's block.
Have you ever been stymied by a rejection letter from a publisher? Don't give up. Keep at it.
If I could offer one essential tip: Hug every editor that comes your way - even, perhaps especially, the ones that are tough on you. The more cuts on a diamond, the smoother it is and the brighter it gleams. And what cuts a diamond? Other diamonds. Editors are put in our path to help us find our voice and learn how to use it. Their efforts may cut, but they help us move forward in the battle with self until the struggle is over and all our persistent effort is crowned with victory.
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no