Guest Post—Jeanette Hanscome “Why Is This Taking So Long?”
I’m still filled with excitement from the excitement of the wonderful Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference last week, but I know from experience that oftentimes the reason people go to a conference is not always what God has for them. Here is a wonderful post by my dear friend Jeanette Hanscome that originally ran on her blog on Jan 15th, and addresses that sensation well…
I knew I should be happy for my roommate, but when she shared her exciting news—“I have an agent”—tears came almost immediately. I’d been attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for seventeen years and still didn’t have an agent, despite writing three work-for-hire books with Focus on the Family. Eight years had passed since the last one hit the shelves. I’d followed through on invitations to submit book proposals and a request for a complete novel manuscript, only to have every one of them turned down. Now I was going through a divorce and trying to survive as a single mom on a freelance writer/editor’s income. If ever I needed doors to open it was now. Instead, they were opening for my friends.
Two and a half years later, my dream of finding an agent—my dream agent, in fact—had finally come true. But the book proposal that she loved so much—a devotional for single moms—still hadn’t found a home.
For the first time since attending my first writers’ conference in 1995, I considered setting writing aside.
I was tired of arriving at conferences with nothing to show for my efforts while my friends arrived with new releases.
Tired of writing proposals for books that nobody wanted.
Tired of wanting what I couldn’t have.
Two thoughts kept me from quitting:
- The reality that I would be miserable if I did.
- If this was a test of my commitment to writing (How badly do you really want this?), I didn’t want to fail.
I’m so glad I didn’t quit! A few months later, my agent found a publisher for my devotional, and in March 2016, it released on the last day of the Mount Hermon conference.
This might sound shocking, but I am now grateful for the frustrating timing.
- If the first agent I connected with at Mount Hermon had signed me, or the second, I wouldn’t have the wonderful agent who represents me now.
- When I think back on my early book proposals and that completed novel, I still had so much to learn about the craft, marketing, and which genre suited me best. Most of my ideas flowed from personal struggles that were still unresolved. Now that I was in a more professionally and emotionally mature place, I saw what a disaster those other projects might have been if accepted.
- By the time I signed the book contract, I had twenty-year’s-worth of relationships to draw on for endorsements, reviews, guest blog posts, and influencers.
- The book flowed from my experience as a newly-single mom—so while exciting things happened for my friends, God had been at work in me as I lived my future material and developed a heart for hurting women.
- I had six months to complete my first draft. By the time I sat down to write it, my post-divorce life had settled down, and I’d done enough healing to revisit some painful memories.
- God timed my release date so it fell during the conference where I first sensed His call to write, and where I would be surrounded by friends who’d been part of my very long journey, including my healing journey. It was like a five-day launch party!
Perhaps you are feeling like I did a few years ago—like no matter how hard you work, and no matter how long you study the craft, exciting things always seem to happen for your roommate instead of you. Maybe you enjoyed some success only to have your writing life get stalled.
Maybe, like me, you have considered quitting. As you consider attending Mount Hermon in 2018, I encourage you to draw on the valuable lessons that I learned from this long period of waiting.
- Waiting often tests how badly we want something. How happy would you be if you stopped writing? If you know you would be miserable, ask God for renewed patience, trust, and wisdom as you seek His direction.
- You probably get sick of hearing this, but we really can trust His timing. He not only knows when we are ready craft-wise, but also which agent we need, when we are emotionally ready to take on a daunting task like a book, and when we will have time to write it well. He knows who our audience really is, and what we need to experience in order to minister to them through our stories.
- This is not wasted time. Consider what you are learning while you wait for that long-awaited yes. Take advantage of this opportunity to hone your craft, find your voice and niche, build relationships within the publishing community, and grow your platform. If you are going through something difficult, pay attention to what God is teaching you, and what you will have to offer others later.
In those moments when you find yourself crying, Why is this taking so long? take time to record the benefits that you discover in waiting for your dream to become reality.
Jeanette Hanscome is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and busy single mom. Her book Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise was published by Worthy Inspired in March 2016. She has written four other books, hundreds of articles, devotions and stories, and contributed to Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lover’s Devotionals 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love, as well as Ellie Claire’s Just Breathe. In 2012, she coauthored Running with Roselle with blind 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson. Visit Jeanette’s website https://jeanettehanscome.com/
April 2, 2018 @ 1:17 pm
Such a valuable lesson, one which most of us learn through trial and error…many trials, hundreds of errors! I, too, have struggled with writing, going to conferences, writing, teaching, going to conferences, considering quitting, recommitting to the call…. I started one of my current projects about 15 years ago, when our oldest daughter was around 19. As I stumbled through the first chapters, submitted it for a paid critique at a conference, changed, reworked, prayed, and begged God to open some doors, I continued to grow and learn and add to the experience I would need to truly right the book. Today, I know I could not have written this book 15 years ago. Only now, with the vulnerability which comes through wisdom and pain, I will have a book which will touch the hearts and lives of the people God intends it to. Blessings!
April 3, 2018 @ 11:39 am
Thank you so much for sharing this, Cathy! It reminded me that when we are the most convinced that we’re ready to put a book out there, we usually are not ready at all. The books that touch hearts are often the ones that took guts to write–that we didn’t want to write but knew we had to. The pain-and-wisdom infused vulnerability that you mention also comes with a lot of humility.
I look forward to seeing what God will do with your book now that you’re ready to write it. Blessings back to you!
April 2, 2018 @ 6:02 pm
Nice post. I left So Cal Writers Conference last year not sure of what I was doing. But now, almost a year later, I have a full proposal for a 3 chapter book I’m pitching, plus a new contact for a script idea I have and a better sense of what I want to do. I’m curious: Did your brand play into the agent accepting you? I had an agent tell me that, despite being a produced TV and book writer, I needed a super high organic social media following to sell in the Christian market. Did you find that to be true? And hey, congrats!!!!!!!!
April 3, 2018 @ 11:25 am
Hi Andrea! Congratulations to you on finishing your books proposal! And doesn’t it feel great to get much-needed direction?
To answer your question–my agent and I had known each other for many years before she signed me. With us it was more about me finally coming into my own and having a proposal for a book that met a specific need (something for newly-single moms) than about my brand. I’m not one of those authors who has a huge social media following, and I’ve finally accepted that I might not ever have that. The thing is (and this is something else I’m finally accepting), we don’t have a lot of control over how many people follow us, or even how many people buy our books once they’re published. But we do have control over staying consistent and faithful to the craft and God’s calling, and writing what He puts on our hearts. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I hope this answer helps!
April 6, 2018 @ 8:06 am
I’ve been going to the Montrose Christian Writer’s Conference since 1999. I’ve talked with numerous faculty members, and received positive responses followed by there isn’t a market for what you write. I tried other things, but none of them fit so I returned to what felt right and began to think for me writing and cartooning would be my hobby. Over time it became clear that the life of a professional writer isn’t what I want out of life. I hate traveling, I’m not at all comfortable promoting either my writing or myself. Two or three years ago my friend and now editor Marsha Hubler talked me into self publishing. I’ve discovered, at least for now, a small audience is rewarding, and I can continue doing what I love. I don’t need the income as both my wife and I are retired. The Montrose Conference has felt like home from the first day and so for me this writer’s conference is a family reunion with the added benefit of improving my writing. You’re friend Kathy Ide, gave me a boost in 2016 when I took her WIP class. I do have one self published book in print, I’m working on a second book, with two others in development. I’m living my version of the writer/cartoonist life style and the writer’s conference has enabled me to achieve this.
April 9, 2018 @ 7:09 am
Love your first book, Ed! Can’t wait for the next one! <3
April 6, 2018 @ 8:35 pm
Thanks Jeanette. Yes, direction feels amazing. My first book was published when I didn’t have a huge following thanks to an amazing editor/publisher from Armonia who encouraged me. (renea brumbaugh). I’m One of those people who does want to make money from my books but I also know it’s a calling first. Honestly the So Cal Conference last year really kicked my butt in gear. Met some amazing people and I’m so grateful I was there. I might see you in June! Thanks for the feedback
April 6, 2018 @ 8:58 pm
I also realized I use the word amazing three times and that comment abovre ha ha
April 24, 2018 @ 4:15 am
“I want to see what happens if I don’t give up” has become my mantra, and your story is a beautiful example of perseverance and faith. Thank you for sharing!