We have a bird's nest in the high corner of our roof. Jon and I heard little baby birds a few weeks ago up there, just chirping, chirping, chirping!
However, this little mother bird picked an awful place for her nest. So far, we've found two baby birds - so young they don't even have feathers yet - on the ground below. It's so sad! I can't decide if they slipped out or started walking and hopped out. I told Jon we need to stick a little fence up there so they won't fall out until they are able to fly.
Timing is key for baby birds. A few weeks early, they'll fall to their deaths. A few weeks later, though, and they'll soar above the trees.
Timing is critical for book proposals too. You can propose the same novel for years and it never goes anywhere until one day, suddenly and without warning, it takes off.
There is so much that has to happen before a baby bird can fly. They have to be fed so they can have the strength to fly. They have to grow feathers so they'll stay dry and warm.
It's the same with books. There is so much that goes into selling a manuscript! You need to take the time to craft the proposal and make it sing. You need to learn patience because this isn't a "microwave" process - it takes time. It takes energy.
I've already talked about going to conferences, meeting with publishers and agents. But I want to talk about the "meanwhile". You've got your proposal out there. Meanwhile...
Meanwhile, try to cultivate patience. Try to remember Who is really in control, and if God's plan for you includes a career in writing, you'll get that call.
There's a story that Amy Carmichael tells - she's one of my favorite missionaries (if you can have favorites!) and also one of my favorite writers. She references Micah 3:3 which says, "He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness."
She then tells a story about watching goldsmith working in the village she served in. She writes: "'How do you know how long to sit and wait? How do you know when it is purified?' we asked our village goldsmith.
"'When I can see my face in it,' he replied."
She continues with: "Blessed be the love that never wearies, never gives up hope that, even in such poor metal our Father may at last see the reflection of His face."
Don't ever give up hope. Let your writing be an outpouring of the refining that God is doing in you. When you are struggling with doubt and wondering if you are even cut out for this, when you are facing rejection after rejection, remember this.
I love this story because just as a goldsmith refines the gold, just as a painter perfects the painting, just as we rewrite and rewrite our stories, God is working on us too, creating us more and more like His Son.
Instead of seeing the pile of rejections as a bad thing, let's treat them as gold would a fire. Let's count them as blessings that teach us how to polish our stories. Don't give up! Don't back down! Dust yourself off, fine-tune your work and get back out there. Treat your writing as the "offering of righteousness" Micah talks about. Don't get tired. Don't get weary.
Baby birds need food. They need a warm nest. They need to grow and stretch and develop. We need to be fed with the Word. We need the support of family and friends. We need the patience to grow. Sometimes it takes months. Sometimes years. Sometimes decades.
Blessed be the love that never wearies, never gives up hope...
I don't ever want to give up. I don't ever want to get tired. I don't want to miss that second when I realize I'm soaring. I don't want to miss the moment I pray for - that one day when I'll look down at myself, I won't see me.