I can’t deny it, and I’m ashamed. The past several months, for me personally, have been so much fun and very rewarding. Kids (and even adults) come up to me frequently and tell me how much they like Sophie’s Quest. There’s a long “hold” list for it at my library, and the novel sold better than all the LEGO, Star Wars, and princess-y books at our recent book fair. Awesome! Even so (and this is where the shame comes in), I was tempted recently to be jealous of someone else.
Does that ever happen to you? It was at a writing meeting where someone practically leaped to the front of the room to talk about how her 7th blog post went practically viral, getting almost 30,000 hits! THIRTY THOUSAND. I get excited, after two years of blogging nearly weekly, if 30 new people read my blog posts on any particular day (and I love every, single one of you, my faithful readers!). But, hold on a second. It was only her 7th post? How lucky can a person get!
Someone else recently talked about how she happened to meet someone at a conference and told him about her book idea, and now she’s in movie talks for her book, which she hasn’t even written yet! But wait, why didn’t she have to pay her dues? Why didn’t she have to go to meetings and conferences for years–decades, even–before getting the big movie deal? It’s not fair, right?
I sat down once with someone who was further down the publishing path than me. She had several series of novels, published with a big-name Christian publisher. She very wisely remarked that everyone is in the same boat of worry and distress over their place along the publishing path, no matter where they happen to be walking. She said that if you have a first novel published, you worry that it will flop. If your first novel is a success, you worry that it will be seen as a one-hit wonder, and that the sequel will flop. If you publish with a small publisher, you worry that it doesn’t have the prestige of a big publisher and your book won’t get noticed. If you publish with a big publisher, you worry that others are shown more respect and get a bigger advance than you, and you fret that your book will be pulled off the bookstore shelves if it isn’t a hit within three short months. Any way you look at it, there is worry and distress. IF you choose to walk that path.
After hearing a little about the story of the woman whose blog post went big, I wouldn’t actually want to have her sad story to share with others. And, I am quite happy with my choices over the past twenty years and wouldn’t have wanted to live the albeit interesting, but very different life that has landed this other mysterious woman a fabulous chance at a movie deal. I can see God’s generous and gracious hand in the past fifteen years, leading me to my terrific, although small, publisher and the beautiful novel that kids are actually reading. This is my path, and I feel grateful.
I’m attending a great Bible study this fall on the book of I Samuel. At the beginning of the story, we learn about the prophet Eli, and the two corrupt sons he was raising. They are called “worthless” or “wicked,” depending on the translation, and they treat their roles as priests with contempt. They don’t follow God’s way regarding the sacrifices they are to carry out, and they follow very questionable local practices when it comes to women at the temple gates. Their behavior becomes their undoing, and many are impacted negatively as a result.
Soon, however, the boy, Samuel, comes along in the story. Eli raises him, too, but Samuel takes seriously his role as minister and servant of the Lord. He walks a different path–a path that leads to hearing the Lord’s voice calling to him. He is faithful to God, and obedient to the word that God gives him.
The main difference is that one path was walked with God, and the other walked in contempt of God. I hope I can remember, when I am tempted to be jealous of others, that God has given me my particular path to walk, and that it is a good path, even if it is slower, smaller, or less spectacular in some ways than the path he gives to others. I want to be like Samuel, who heard God, and like another Old Testament character, Enoch. He sure knew the right path to travel. Very little is known about him, except that he “walked with God, and then was no more.” Now, that is path of true success!