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123 – When Your Writing Career Needs Renovations

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When Your Career Needs Renovations on Write from the Deep

When Erin Taylor Young and her husband bought their new home in June of 2020, they had no idea what was waiting for them! The challenges. The renovations. The hard work. Writers are often in that same place when they go beyond the idea of writing into the real, messy work of writing and the unforeseen challenges of a writing career. So here are some lessons Erin learned to help guide and encourage you on your writing journey.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

I’ve mentioned on this podcast before that my hubby and I have moved to Kansas. What I didn’t mention is that we bought a house bigger than we planned, and it needed more repairs and updating than we anticipated. So we’ve been in the middle of renovations, doing things like scraping popcorn texture off ceilings. As we’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed how many things—we’ll call them lessons I’m learning from everything that’s gone wrong—actually apply to the writing life.

So here are my observations, in no particular order.

What you think will be simple almost never is

For example, we had to buy a refrigerator. Why are there so many choices of refrigerators? And why do I need it to be WiFi enabled? With a bunch of doors? And a TV? We finally got one picked out only to realize that it had no wheels. How could we possibly slide a fridge into place on a brand new wood floor without scratching the daylights out of it? So we had to choose a different refrigerator that had wheels. 

And then my hubby noticed the water connection pipe box thingy (this is why I’m not a plumber) looked askew. In fact, broken. Which meant he had to go buy $90 worth of special plumbing tools. And a new box thingy. And when we had a plumber come in for an entirely different issue (that’s another story) he looked at the refrigerator and said dealing with that broken box was a huge pain of a job that he didn’t have time for (it was the end of his workday already). He frowned. “You gotta cut the drywall out and so that’ll have to be repaired as well…”

So simply replacing the fridge turned out to be a huge rabbit hole we fell into.

In some ways, I think lots of would-be authors think writing a book should be a simple process. You know, just spew your story into the computer and voila: Royalty checks will start showing up.

But writing a good book? That can be a pretty big rabbit hole in and of itself. It’s much more complicated than we realize at first. Especially because we don’t even know what we don’t know about the craft of writing. And even when we learn our craft, there are still so many steps involved, such as revision, working with critique partners or editors, and so on.

Even when your book is done, it’s not done. Because then you have another rabbit hole of figuring out how to get it published. Do you go the traditional route: finding an agent, creating your hook, proposal, audience, takeaway, and so on? Or, if you’re indie publishing, now you’re the publisher and you have to deal with formatting, cover design, retailers, and marketing all on your own. 

And it doesn’t stop there, because your career is just starting. You’re going to face a boatload of complicated challenges and decisions as you walk this road. 

But here’s the bottom line: Even if nothing is as simple as I thought, that was okay. I learned from it. And now I’ve learned to keep this in mind when I jump into something else “simple.” Which will help me not get as frustrated when things get complicated. Of course, I’ll still get a little frustrated. That’s just human to do so. But my experience will help me handle it better the next time.  

Sometimes, though, our initial ignorance is bliss. Sometimes it’s better NOT to know just how hard the journey you’re embarking on is, because you might chicken out. You may never try. And that would be a shame. 

So if you’ve started on this writing journey and you’re feeling like it isn’t the cruise you signed up for—or if you’re at a stage in your journey where you thought things would be easier or simpler, and they’re so not what you’d hoped or expected—know that lots and lots of authors have faced and are facing the same struggle. You’re not alone. There is One who knows the entire journey. He’s had it planned since before you were born. No rabbit hole is too deep, no journey too difficult, when He’s your guide.

Everything is going to take much longer than you think

We thought we’d have all the popcorn ceilings scraped in 2-3 weeks. Wrong. Just the prep work—not even the actual scraping—takes forever. Laying plastic drop cloths over the floors to protect them from gloop falling from the ceiling takes forever. EVERYTHING seems to take forever.

We learned the hard way that if you don’t securely tape all the drop cloth pieces together, all the dried crumbles and dust that the popcorn turns into will squirt out all over the floors when you try to roll up the drop cloths. And you have to tape them to the walls, too. But when you pull off the painter’s tape holding your drop cloths to the the walls, it pulls the paint off too. So not only did we have the ceiling repairs from the scraping, we also had to repair the walls with joint compound and sand them and repaint…and so on. 

If you think house renovations take forever, try waiting for an editor or agent’s response to your proposal. It’s going to take much longer than you think. Publishing is all about waiting. On yourself, on others, on God. And it’s often about hurry up and wait. You hurry to get something done by an agent’s or editor’s deadline, only to wait for weeks or even months to get a response 

The key in all this waiting is to know that God is in control of the timeline. He will work His will according to what He knows is the best timeline for you, for all involved. And if you’re stressed because you’re behind a timeline of your own making, let the timeline go. Or make sure your deadlines (if it’s for a preorder or editing or whatever) are reasonable. NEVER agree to a deadline you know you can’t meet, and never count on everything going smoothly. Build in extra time for emergencies.

You are going to have to continually revise your expectations

Very little (or probably even nothing) is going to turn out completely the way you envisioned or intended. AND it’s going to be a less-than-perfect final product. AND you’re going to have to make changes on the fly.

There was a lot of brown in the house we bought. It had to go. Part of getting rid of it included getting rid of the beige carpeting. But the house had a LOT of carpeting—more than we could afford to replace. Until we got connected with a wholesaler whose price was low enough that we could afford it. Which, as it turns out, was a great thing because the carpets weren’t in great shape and we weren’t helping anything by getting crud from the ceilings ground into them. No matter how careful we were, that stuff got everywhere. It was worse than sand from the beach. 

The catch with the carpeting wholesaler was that we had to use the type and color of carpeting that he dealt with, and when it came to lighter colors, there were fewer choices than with the more expensive carpet suppliers. My favorite color of what the wholesaler offered wasn’t as thick as my distant-second-favorite color.

So now what? I couldn’t have both the thickness I wanted and the color I wanted. Furthermore, we couldn’t re-carpet everywhere in the whole house, so we had to choose the wisest place to spend the money. The perfect house I’d envisioned didn’t (and couldn’t) exist except in my mind. I had to let go of it. 

You’re going to run into these limitations in your writing career. The perfect book has yet to be written (other than the Bible). If you keep writing your book until you think it’s perfect, you’ll never finish. And you’ll end up discouraged. The perfect marketing plan doesn’t exist, the perfect career doesn’t exist. You simply can’t “do everything right.” You can try to set yourself up to make no mistakes, but nothing you do will ensure success. That’s in God’s hands.  

What you can do is your best with every effort, every decision, soaking it all in prayer. Even then, your best will keep changing as your seasons in life, your expertise, and the industry changes. It’s all a process. 

Another reason to let go of your perfect vision is that if you don’t, you’ll end up closing yourself off to ideas from others. Especially if you’re traditionally published, which is a team effort. You’re going to have to acquiesce to others who have more expertise. Editing, cover design, even your title…Publishing companies know their readers and they have an investment in your book and in seeing it do well. 

We’re not saying you simply give in to every suggestion and be a doormat, only that you need to remain open to a bigger vision than you had alone. Be teachable. Surround yourself with people you trust and learn when to let go.

It’s OK, though, to say “I’m not sure I like this,” or “I was anticipating something different,” or “would it be possible to move in this direction?” And to trust your gut, so long as you’ve covered your decisions in prayer.

You absolutely don’t want to proceed with something you’re not comfortable with. For example, when we started painting, we chose a color that we liked. But when we put it on the walls, it turned purple. No kidding, it was purple. We didn’t know why, but we knew we didn’t like it. At all. So even though it meant more work and more money, we replaced the purple paint with a paint that kept the color we wanted to begin with. And boy, am I glad we did.

You are going to have to do hard, scary things that will push you beyond what you think ARE your limits

One of the difficulties we faced was our two-story foyer and staircase. How in the world would we scrape, sand, and paint the ceiling and walls? We didn’t have a ladder that tall—I didn’t even know if they made them. It seemed an insurmountable task.

We got an estimate to have the work done, but it was over $2,000. Definitely not in our budget. We had to figure out a way. You’re going to face those kinds of challenges in your writing. You’re going to feel like you can’t possibly do whatever it is you need to do. But you can do what we did:

We investigated. And we figured things out.

We found a ladder that would do most of the stairs—it had multiple ways to configure it. It’s a pain in the backside to move and adjust. It’s heavy (I can barely move it myself) and you need space to fold and unfold it. And we had to figure out how to level the ladder legs on the stairs. But we did it!

Then we rented scaffolding. Just putting it together was hard, and it felt rickety. That was nothing compared to being at the top of the ladder, working. I knew the ladder was sturdy and strong, and it was leaning against the wall, so I really couldn’t fall backward due to the physics of it all. But still, when I was way up high, it felt so rickety and light.  

That’s how it sometimes feels when we’re trying to trust God in our writing career. In our heads, we know He’s the God of the universe…but do we always FEEL that? This is why emotions are a poor measuring stick for reality. Rather than basing your decisions on your emotions, find out the facts. Hold to Scripture about who God is and KNOW you can trust Him.

You’re going to be pushed. Writing isn’t safe. You have to be vulnerable and face challenges you never imagined. You’re going to feel exposed. Just know that’s how God wants it so we rely on Him, so HE gets the glory, not us.

Things are going to get messier before they get cleaner

When you’re renovating, you can’t be afraid to make a mess. You can’t be afraid of demo. Sometimes you have to tear things down to rebuild them better.

When we had our inspection done, we learned that we had mold under our dining room windows. We couldn’t be afraid to open the walls to see what we were dealing with so we could clean it up and rebuild everything. And when our carpet was replaced, there were several days where we were walking around on the plywood subfloor, and that was a mess. But it let us deal with annoying squeaks in the flooring. And at the end of the process, we were going to have nice clean walls, no mold, fresh carpet, and no squeaks. That made it all worth it. 

The same will be true of book revisions. You may need to dismantle that book, and it’ll look like a disaster: chapters missing, paragraphs hacked. But imagine the final book in your hands, or a streamlined story that connects with readers. It’s worth the effort. They key is to have confidence in your ability to learn how to deal with the problems. Get an experienced editor to help you or a good critique partner. And read craft books. Writing is a skill you can learn!  

Or think about your career as a whole—you may experience huge upheavals: messy experiences with your publishing company, radical changes in the industry, hard decisions. Things may feel like they’re in shambles before a better reshaping can happen. But again, God has foreseen all this, He’s your guide, your shelter, and your protection through this upheaval.

You are going to be tempted to grumble

One morning shortly after our offer was accepted on the house, Alan and I were walking on the trail behind the house and I heard a hawk (I love hawks!). The sky was blue, the air was crisp and a hawk was calling overheard. So perfect! I said to Alan, “I can’t believe we get to live here!”

Then the hard work hit, the difficulties, the constant trials. Every day had a new problem, that’s no exaggeration. My dream come true was SO much harder than I thought. It was easy to grumble and be frustrated. God was giving me my dream, and I was grumbling. Ever wonder why the Israelites could grumble so much on the way to the Promised Land? Well, I feel like I know firsthand. It’s hard! 

This is going to happen somewhere along the way in your writing career. Problems, challenges, grumbling.

Don’t hear us saying your career is going to be a nightmare, because we’re not saying that. But none of us is promised an easy path on following God, no matter what our dreams are. Even when our dreams come true, they won’t be perfect.

We can’t lose sight of thankfulness, of gratitude. You can’t lose sight of the blessing that God is giving you even when things get hard. It’s remembering that God is with you, and He’s brought you to this place, and He has His purpose in everything you face. That’s what will strengthen you.

There is a joy that will keep you going if you’re willing to stop and notice it

We are created in God’s image, we’re imitators of Him, and naturally we want to create, to bring order from chaos. But it’s tempting to only see the big picture in your mind, and not be satisfied until that big picture is fulfilled. 

But often the big picture is TOO big, and it’s constantly changing because nothing stays the same in this world except God. We need to stop and take delight in the small steps. Watch for those little bits of joy that God has tucked into every step of what you’re doing. He delights in bringing you joy.

For me, just finishing one closet, just seeing one mess cleaned up, one ceiling that looked pretty, that kept me going when I was willing to stop and be thankful for that one thing.

In your writing career there are lots of small steps to celebrate: finishing a chapter, cleaning up your writing space, creating a new outline, finding that perfect word you’ve been seeking, a successful brainstorming session, a nice reader email, a new contract, your first sale on Amazon, finishing your first draft, saying hello to another writer at your first conference, and so many other things!

In spite of any difficulties you face, the good things will still be good. We just have to stop and celebrate them, take time to enjoy them. Trials and hardship don’t negate the good. Remind yourself of everything God has done thus far. Progress even in small steps will be exciting as you see the results. And the progress will be a joy to help keep you going. 

Sometimes you end up with exactly what you didn’t want, but it turns out that you love it for reasons you couldn’t foresee

In my case, one thing I most wanted to change was the kitchen cabinets. Yes, they were pretty in a certain way, but the stain had this caramel orange cast. But once we changed the lighting and restrained the wood floor to a lighter color, the cabinets lost their orange glow. The countertops, which I didn’t like because they also seemed orange, suddenly looked more like an outdoorsy natural stone, which I loved. I could never have foreseen that.

So I ended up with what I thought I didn’t want, but because other changes around the kitchen brought a whole different perspective, I’m pretty darn satisfied with how things turned out.

You’re probably going to have preconceived notions of who you are and what you like and don’t like as a writer, and how you want to work with something and how you don’t. That’s fine, but don’t let that make you miss what might actually be a good fit for you, even if you think it’s not. God Knows you better than you know yourself, and He knows what’s good for you and right for you. To help you thrive. To grow you. To put you where you can be the best version of you.

Final Words

We’re so human. It’s easy to forget that God is in control and get focused instead on circumstances. But the renovations that need to happen in you, and your writing career, those are in God’s hands. You can trust Him with that. You can trust Him to make the end project more beautiful, more perfect, than you ever could have imagined. That’s because He loves you, and He loves the people who are going to be reading your books. And He loves the fact that we are willing to follow Him and do as He asks!

While writers love the idea of being a writer, the real work and challenges of a writing career can make them falter. Check out these tips to help you thrive! #amwriting @karenball1 Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What challenges are you facing in your writing dream? Does it need renovating?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our August sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain. Stacy’s been working on her first book but also, like many, dealing with changes that this pandemic has brought to her life. We’re praying for Stacy and so many others affected by the trials in our world today!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous sound editing!

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122 – The Importance of Legacy with Guest Steve Laube

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The Importance of Legacy with Guest Steve LaubeWhat legacy are you leaving for those behind you? As writers, it’s so important for us to know and preserve legacies not just in our own lives, but in Christian publishing. Our guest, Steve Laube, shares how the industry is about to lose a legacy, and what he is doing—and YOU can do—to help preserve it.

About Steve Laube

Steve Laube, president and founder of The Steve Laube Agency, is a veteran of the bookselling industry with nearly 40 years of experience. In the 80s he was a bookstore manager and was awarded the National Store of the Year by the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). He then spent over a decade with Bethany House Publishers and was named the Editor of the Year by AWSA. Over sixteen years ago he became an agent where he and his agency have represented nearly 2,000 new books and Steve was named Agent of the Year by ACFW. He is the President of The Christian Writers Institute and publishes the annual Christian Writers Market Guide (also available online). In addition, he is the owner and President of Enclave Publishing one of the premier publishers of Christian fantasy and science fiction.

Saving a Legacy

In this podcast, guest Steve Laube talks about the importance of holding onto our heritage so we can share it with those who come behind us. That’s why he started a kickstarter campaign to save the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. For decades the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has been the industry standard for Christian writers conferences. It offers an amazing opportunity for writers to learn about the publishing industry, grow in craft, network with writers, editors, agents and other publishing professionals, and most important, to commune with God in the beautiful redwoods of California.

Visit the Kickstarter campaign page to learn more about the conference and what you can do if you’re interested in attending or contributing to help save this writers conference.

The fight to save a legacy! #SaveMHCWC @karenball1 @stevelaubeagent Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What or whose legacies have impacted you most?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our July sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow. She’s a writer and speaker at women’s retreats. Her book, Blood Beneath the Pines is a tale of prevailing justice, set mostly in the Deep South.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous sound editing!

STAY CONNECTED

Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.

121 – Be a Peacemaker

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Be a Peacemaker Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungIt seems the world has never been so troubled, so divided, so overflowing with anger and violence. And yet, it has. Our world, our nation, have seen all of this before. Humanity has lived through it and come out stronger and better. And here’s the thing. We can combine our skill with words and our faith in God to be a part of the solution for today’s struggles. How? By becoming a peacemaker.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

There’s no way around it. The world seems to have gone crazy. Our nation has never seen such turmoil, such anger and senseless violence. Killing, destruction, hatred and vitriol. Such division. 

And now Christians are coming under fire. Social media is blocking people for “hate speech” when they share truth from sermons or devotionals. People’s accounts are being suspended for quoting the Bible. Black Lives Matter activists are calling for the destruction of all the church stained-glass windows and all statues depicting a white Jesus and/or Mary. Governors allowed bars to open up in the face of COVID, but churches? Not so much. 

People are saying, “It’s never been this awful before!”

Or has it? 

So many people have been saying lately that things have never been “this bad” in the world or in America. But human history from the beginning of time is rife with conflict, anger, wars, rebellion, and all the horrible things people do to each other. Consider the Old Testament. Nations were destroying nations all over the place. 

God’s chosen people constantly rebelled against God. To the point He scattered them and let other nations take them captive and turn them into slaves. Here’s how Jeremiah describes it in the beginning of Lamentations: 

“Jerusalem, once so full of people, is now deserted. She who was once great among the nations now sits alone like a widow. Once the queen of all the earth, she is now a slave. She sobs through the night; tears stream down her cheeks. Among all her lovers, there is no one left to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her and become her enemies. Judah has been led away into captivity, oppressed with cruel slavery. She lives among foreign nations and has no place of rest. Her enemies have chased her down, and she has nowhere to turn. The roads to Jerusalem are in mourning, for crowds no longer come to celebrate the festivals. The city gates are silent, her priests groan, her young women are crying—how bitter is her fate! Her oppressors have become her masters, and her enemies prosper, for the Lord has punished Jerusalem for her many sins. Her children have been captured and taken away to distant lands.” Lamentations 1:1-5

Even when God freed Israel from Egypt, they complained and grumbled and made their human leaders into the bad guys. 

Then there’s the New Testament: full of wars and conflict and rebellion. One culture hating another, one religious system trying to destroy others. Political parties at war, no matter the cost to the peopleWorld history overflows with similar turmoil and conflict. 

America has seen horrific times of anger and plague and turmoil such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, 1920s Prohibition (which was the birth of organized crime), the Civil Rights Movement, the Detroit riots in ’67, and on and on. 

Yes, what’s happening now, in 2020, is terrible. But friends, we’ve been here before. Too many times to count. And through it all—through all the anger and violence and division and sickness and bloodshed—God has been with us. 

So how, as Christians and writers, should we respond to all that’s going on? To the accusation of “cultural appropriation” and “white privilege” and systemic racism and so much more? Can we become part of the solution? 

Yes. By taking Matthew 5:9 to heart: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” 

We need peacemakers. People who seek God’s truth with a spirit like it says in James 3:17: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” 

As those who know the Prince of Peace, and who are using their ability to write to serve that Prince, we surrender our desire or need to be “right” and instead draw the lost and angry and disenfranchised into God’s peace. Which doesn’t necessarily mean unity of thought. 

Sometimes it means agreeing to disagree. But with pure motives, being gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy. I know, we just read all that a moment ago. But with the noise all around us it bore repeating. 

What a peacemaker is not

Let’s look first at what a peacemaker isn’t. 

Peacemakers aren’t “peacekeepers.” They’re not stepping in to ensure everyone acts and talks and does what they’re supposed to. They’re not there to police, but to serve. 

Peacemakers don’t try to gloss things over with clichés or appeasement, to offer easy answers for complex conflicts. In fact, they don’t offer answers at all.

Peacemakers don’t run from confrontation, nor do they stand by silent when wrong is done. 

Conversely, peacemakers don’t jump into every debate or argument with both feet. Doing that results in two of the enemy’s best deterrents to peace: distraction and emotional entanglement

Distraction

Webster’s defines a distraction as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.” 

There’s nothing Satan likes better than to get a purposeful believer, one who is seeking to draw others into peace, derailed. As the would-be peacemaker goes sailing down a rabbit trail (such as trying to engage people in reasonable discussion on social media), Satan’s laughter echoes in the supernatural realm. 

Emotional Entanglement

As for emotional entanglements, boy howdy, those are wicked. There you are, all focused on God’s truth and peace, when someone says something utterly false about you or God, or something so insulting you want to strangle them (not that I would ever do such a thing), or writes a 1-star review that they hated your book because the cover was ugly and it’s so clear they didn’t even read it…and wham! Your emotions slam into full gear and all you can think about is setting the record straight. 

So much for peace.  

As you seek to be a peacemaker, keep an eye out for distractions and emotional entanglements. You can’t afford either one. Neither can those God is asking you to help.

What a Godly peacemaker is

Godly peacemakers ask God to deliver them from self-interest. As a result, they don’t look at things in terms of how it affects them personally. They can listen and understand based on God’s perception, not their own.  

Peacemakers focus on the glory of God and how they can best promote that glory in situations of conflict.

Peacemakers reflect on God’s word, consider others’ perspectives, and take responsibility for their own actions and how they influence others. 

A peacemaker also follows James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  You have to purpose to do that. It won’t just happen.

Godly peacemakers pursue peace, but they understand that God is the only One who can bring peace. Peacemakers are there as a bridge, so that God can use them to draw people into a new understanding or realization of peace.

A peacemaker also sees peace as it’s presented in the Bible, understanding that it’s based on God’s righteousness and justice. Peace doesn’t come from our worth or our actions or words or thoughts. It stems from God’s righteousness and justice. 

To help us get our minds around that, here are a few Scriptures about God’s righteousness and justice: 

“Shall not He render to every man according to His works? What peace to know God is fair.” Proverbs 24:12

“[God’s] work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

“But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” Psalm 9:7-8

We’re not at the mercy of a judge who can be bribed or influenced. He is righteous and upright!

So, a godly peacemaker recognizes that God’s justice is not tied to us and our character, but to HIM and His character. 

Godly peacemakers also know God’s justice, which is the source of true peace, isn’t tied to our human timetable. We may see things that seem wrong and sinful, and yet the perpetrators never seem to suffer or be punished. But peacemakers know it’s not our job to mete out justice. We don’t have the authority. And remember that God often uses the evil of this world to discipline and teach His people. 

It’s not a happy thought, but it is true that God’s justice sometimes means the righteous suffer. When God sent the nation of Israel into exile, not every single person was sinning against Him. But the nation had turned its back on Him, and so He punished His people as a whole. America has been turning its back on Him for decades. It may well be that the large-scale violence and sin happening today is a result of God removing His hand of blessing from our nation. And if that is what’s happening, we need peacemakers more than ever. 

How to be a peacemaker

Pray. Seek God’s will. Does He want you to take on being a peacemaker in your life or in your writing? We’re all called to this in our writing, though, aren’t we? To help people see a different point of view, to help see the humanity of everyone (not just people like themselves), to bring understanding and compassion.

But this has to be a mindset. It has to be the way we train ourselves to think first, and then write. That’s why it starts with prayer and seeking God, and focusing on Him. He’s the one who transforms our mind.

Pursue peace inside yourself. You cannot pursue peace for others until you find God’s peace within yourself. Ask God to set you free from the hindrances that keep you from His peace or from really listening to or showing respect to others. What’s keeping you from staying grounded in God so that when you speak or react, it’s from a place of His peace?

That’s especially important in our writing. We have to be so careful that we don’t portray characters who come from a different side of an issue as the villains. If you write a novel of a young woman wanting an abortion, you can’t paint her as a villain. You can’t paint the abortionist as a monster. You have to acknowledge that there are reasons for opposing views, and then show God’s truth and spirit changing people.  

Listen. Listen to those on all sides of the issues, seeking to understand where those engaging in the dispute are coming from. Always remember, our pasts influence our present. Even more than that, our personal perspectives of our pasts influence us.

That doesn’t mean it’s okay to use the past to excuse bad behavior in the present. Simply that a godly peacemaker—and writer—needs to understand where people on both sides are coming from due to experience and the emotions triggered by those experiences. 

Admit when you’re wrong. If you realize you’ve misunderstood something, or that you didn’t really think the way you thought you did, admit it. If you come to understand that your words or actions may have wounded someone else, admit it. And ask for forgiveness. Humble yourself before God and those you seek to draw into peace. 

A roadmap to peacemaking 

When you’ve come to a place of God’s peace within yourself, then you’ll be open and sensitive to the times God calls you to action as a peacemaker, whether He calls you to take part in person in a disagreement or debate or calls you to address things in your writing. When that happens, consider 1 Peter 3:8-17 your roadmap.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8

  • Be like-minded, but in this context not with those you are speaking with or writing  to, but with Christ and the Father. Let them strip you of self-interest, so that your only desire is to draw others into peace and truth. 
  • Be sympathetic, which means you can understand what others are feeling. Open yourself to the hurts and wounds of others. Care about others’ problems and suffering, but do so without assigning blame to anyone. 
  • Be loving. Which means keeping 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as your guideline:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

  • Be compassionate, meaning you actively seek to relieve others’ suffering. 
  • Be humble. Remember, you are not the one with the answers. This isn’t about you. It’s about God and allowing Him to use you as He sees fit.  

Verses 9-12 are the perfect guidelines for responding when those you are talking to or those who read your books get angry or frustrated with you or what you’re saying or writing. 

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:9-12

So what happens if you try doing as God is asking, try to be a peacemaker, and it goes horribly wrong? That’s where verses 13-17 come in:

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.“ 1 Peter 3:13-17

The Bottom Line

When we understand that yes, the world has been this full of chaos and violence before; and when we see the need and blessing of peacemakers, especially in a world as divided as ours now; and when we understand how God can use us to be peacemakers in our community and relationships and writing, the condition of the world doesn’t affect us. Because we’re grounded in God’s peace, secure in His justice and righteousness, and secure in the knowledge that this world is not our home. But while we’re here, we can be honored by and delight in His desire to use us to reveal Him to a dark and hurting world. 

A writer’s best response for writers to the horrible things going on today? Be a peacemaker. Come hear how! #amwriting @karenball1 Click To Tweet
We want to hear from you!

What do you think of writers being peacemakers? Are there ways you can be a peacemaker with your writing?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our July sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow. She’s a writer and speaker at women’s retreats. Her book, Blood Beneath the Pines is a tale of prevailing justice, set mostly in the Deep South.

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