Thursday, February 23, 2006

JK: What is Success, part 3

How does being published fit into your definition of success?

Being published allows a greater opportunity to express my spiritual connections. I am humbled by the comments people make about how the stories have affected them, the changes they have chosen to make from losing 50 pounds to starting a new career to deciding to adopt a child or leaving an abusive relationship. One man told me because he read my book he would be a better father and a better man. Most of the time the stories they say inspired them to make those changes did not contain from my perspective the insights they received. To me, this means that what Madeline L’Engle wrote in Walking on Water is that we co-create with readers and with God. Being published affirms for me that I am where God wants me to be at this time. I think if I was no longer published, I might reconsider what God has in store for me though I’d look at my definition of success again. And if I was still experiencing the connections, the intensity, the passion of writing and living with spiritual congruency, still learning, then I might say that publishing isn’t the only outcome God wants for me. Maybe it’s the joy of writing or who I encounter while researching or trying to get published that is part of what He wants for me.

For many of us, writing is also a job -- is a certain amount of success absolutely necessary?

OK, let me just say that I worked for 17 years on that reservation I mentioned earlier. I had nine books published before I quit that day job to write – and speak – full time. We have ranch income which helps pay the bills but we also have ranch bills! So yes, I do see writing as a job that requires income unless you have wonderful support from some other source. But even keeping our day job doesn’t mean we aren’t writing successfully. If we’re following our hearts and doing what we believe we’re called to, I honestly think we can claim success. The French have a word, Métier, that I believe means “finding work to which one is best suited, work that the world needs doing.” For 17 years, I worked in mental health with Native children. I believed it was worthy work and needed doing and I was called to be there. I wrote early in the morning and on weekends. I had two jobs I felt God gave me. I think sometimes writers constrict themselves into believing we are only successful writers if we are full time writers. There’s an old German Proverb: Begin to weave, God provides the thread. I think it has something to say to us as writers.

Visit Jane at Look for A Clearing in the Wild, coming in April, the first book in the Change and Cherish Series from WaterBrook Press


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