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Lessons from 35 Years in Publishing
Ever wonder what it’s like to be an editor for best-selling authors like Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Robin Jones Gunn, and more? Ever wanted to get a behind-the-scenes peek at what it means to be an agent or writer or podcaster? Karen Ball dishes on over 35 years in publishing, during which she’s been all of the above—and shares her best counsel for those on the publishing journey.
On Friends and Advisors for the Journey…
Karen believed she would love editing—and she does!—but what she didn’t realize was that the authors she worked with would become cherished and trusted friends as well as colleagues. It was this discovery that gave Karen the solid foundation of trust that God was guiding her to the people He wanted in her life to counsel and encourage her, as well as hold her accountable. Which is why she tells writers to seek God’s wisdom in choosing your fellow travelers, your counselors, and your advisors.
On the Deep Places…
Karen thought she knew how her life would go, and she was completely wrong. But in the process of traveling the journey, especially in the deep places, she learned that God is in control. She said she and Don developed a mantra: “God is in control. I may not understand it. I may not even like it. But I can trust Him.”
It’s really, really, REALLY hard. As Gary Thomas says in his amazing, authentic book, Sacred Marriage, marriage isn’t about making you happy, it’s about making you holy. But here’s the thing: it’s worth it. And the struggles that Karen and Don encountered lead them to embrace 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
On Being Changed by the Journey…
“Sometimes I miss that happy little kid I used to be…but Scripture talks about putting away childish things and I think sometimes…in fact, I know, that as you deepen in your relationship with God, you understand it’s really not about you. It’s about what He is doing and who He wants to reach through you and how He’s going to utilize you. And it’s a gift! When you go through even the hard things, it’s a gift that refines you and enables you to help others.”
It’s about serving the authors I work with. It’s not about “fixing” their writing, it’s about coming alongside them respecting what they’ve done and are doing, and helping to draw the very best writing out of them.
“Life has given me some degrees…in counseling, in psychology, in all kinds of things that I’m then able to utilize as a writer, as an editor, as a wife, in whatever I do for God.”
On the Most Fun Thing about Writing, Agenting, and Editing…
“Here’s what I love about all three: story and relationship. All three of those careers focused on the power of story and on my relationship with the people I worked with.”
On the Task God Has Given Each of Us…
It’s not about making you happy or famous or rich. It’s about God using everything we do to refine us into a clearer reflection of Christ to a dark and weary world.
On Lessons Learned from Health Issues…
“It’s given me a new perspective on Luke 12:48, where it says that those who’ve been given a lot will also have a lot required of them…I’ve always be able to do a lot of things, to take care of things myself. But to come to a place where I had to admit I was no longer able. A place of having to ask for help. A place of having to go to people and say ‘I’m not going to be able to do that thing for you after all.’ To recognize I was no longer able…to accept that…and to then ask people for grace, that was very difficult…But when I went to them, people extended such grace to me. They were so kind. And as I considered that verse again, what God whispered to my heart was that the ‘much’ that’s expected isn’t necessarily doing, but surrendering…it’s recognizing that I can do nothing without Him. That my weakness is His opportunity to show that He is GOD, and for Him to be glorified.”
Karen’s Final Words of Wisdom…
“‘I know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.’ Regardless of what’s happening in your writing career, in your life, God is sufficient. You may not get it, you may not understand why things are happening to you the way they are. You may feel like you’ve been in a constant struggle all your life, and that may not seem fair. But when you look at it, recognize that nothing we experience reaches the level of what Christ has done and sacrificed for us. ‘I know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.’ Everything pales before that. And what He has done requires me to sacrifice everything as well. That’s the only certainty I can hold onto, but what a certainty.”
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Thank you, Karen for your testimony. You ladies are a blessing and an encouragement.
Thanks so much! Blessings to you.
I know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Paul’s words still resonate. Thank you for this needed perspective.
You’re welcome. They become words of rest and power for us, and I know they will be that for you, too.
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