Thursday, December 14, 2017

There Is No "Other Side"

Don’t worry. I’m not going Rob Bell on you guys. But today I want to chat about something I think is relevant to us all... the concept of the "other side" of the wall.

As humans, we are always reaching for something beyond our selves and our current circumstance. C.S. Lewis once suggested this propensity points to an innate desire for the heavenly, that which is outside of this world.

And as writers, we often reach for that “something” in the form of the publishing world. But have you noticed the “other side” of where you are is ever-escalating and never satisfactory? 

First, it’s “if I could sign with an agent, I’d be so happy.” Then, “if I could get a contract with a publishing house, I would finally feel like a real writer.” Then, perhaps, “if I could land in a larger publishing house, I’d have more resources and be taken more seriously.” And then the ladder continues to grow higher. Maybe you do land at your dream publishing house. Soon you have reviews to worry about, sales. Even if you become a bestselling author and get rave reviews from Romantic Times, and your Kindle sells are off the charts... then you have to worry about your next book. Certainly it won’t live up, right? Certainly you’ll be found a fraud. Comparison creeps in and becomes such an enemy of joy. 

Where do you stand on the ladder? Can you relate? Can’t we all? No matter how high you climb, you've never accomplished enough. 

Friends, let me tell you something. 

There is no “other side,” this side of heaven. 

Let that sink in a minute. Imagine that wall you’re trying so hard to scale fade away like a hologram. 

In God's eyes, that wall never existed at all. 

Now, let me be clear. I want that publishing contract with my dream publishing house. And I want to write for them for decades and hit bestseller lists, and I want my stories to change people’s lives. I mean I really, really, really want it, guys. But in this long journey toward publication, I’ve seen many people get my dream. And you know what? I­­t didn’t make them happy/confident/satisfied if they weren’t that way before the contract. Sometimes, it did the opposite. 

Because purpose and validation don’t come in the doing, but the being. 

If you are called, you are a writer because God says you are. You don’t need contracts/reviews/sales/visibility to prove your worth. 

You are worthy because He is. You are worthy because You are his. 

So let me ask you this. What if nothing taunted you with whispers of inadequacy? What if that “next thing” you’re trying so hard to attain was just another checkpoint in the journey, rather than a turning point of validation? And what if the person you are and will be exists not by what she’s achieved, but instead by who God already is, and has been all along? 

How would your life and dreams be different? Live like that today. Ask God to show you the walls you've built and willingly begun living behind.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Amy Willoughby Burle said...

This! Thank you so much. I agree with completely. I'm still a work in progress, but a couple of years go, I turned my writing over to God. I stopped trying to make it all happen the way I wanted it to in the time frame in which I expected it. Oh, what a difference. Just like you said, I discovered that my calling as a writer was dictated by God, not me and not by what I had accomplished. It's His time and His calling and I'm happy in that. Thank you for this post!

Katie Sweeting said...

Your post is to appropriate. I do feel like I'm reaching for some goal and once I reach it "all will be well." I know in my head that's not true, but I have to know it in my heart too. Even though I have a book published already, it's non-fiction and I'm waiting for my historical novel to attract a publisher. I have an agent, and was thrilled with that achievement, but many rejections later, still no publisher. We press on.
Thanks for your transparency and encouragement. It means a lot!
Katie Sweeting

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you for sharing, Amy!

Ashley Clark said...

Katie, it’s a struggle we all feel! Because of course we all have goals, and dreams, and those are healthy. But what a slippery slope when we fall too far in.

Bryan J. Fagan said...

I was born with two bad legs. I spent the first 15 years of my life in and out of a wheelchair. Mostly in. When I was 14 the doctors gave me the green light to walk again. My goal at that time was to walk from our patio to the driveway without any help. It took two years to achieve it.

I don’t remember the day I did it but I do remember the struggle. Now that I am writing with hopes and dreams of landing an agent I see the similarities. If I succeed I will remember the struggle not the success.

The struggle is our classroom. It is the place where we learn about ourselves. It teaches us so many things. So pay close attention as you struggle. You will learn who you really are.

Excellent article. Thank you.

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