By Dan Balow
At some point, anyone involved in motivational or inspirational communication will touch on the necessity of leaving the past behind and moving on from a painful experience or time of life in order to grow personally or professionally.
For Christians, leaving a past behind through forgiveness and redemption is a cornerstone of the Christian walk.
However, many authors remember every failure as if it were a millstone around their neck, crushing their spirit and threatening to undermine their work.
An author writes a book, which never sold to a publisher or didn’t sell well as a self-published work, and they give up.
For other authors, success is a millstone.
Multiple bestsellers can lead an author (and publisher) to put so much pressure on each new book to be as good or better than those preceding, making an otherwise enjoyable and fulfilling writing career a virtual literary death-march.
Or, an author might have been published and a book sold well, but then was never able to achieve the same success again. Initial success raised expectations (their own and others) and they have been a disappointment ever since.
Like the football player who scored four touchdowns in his first game and then didn’t score again all season.
Some authors have had their lives changed negatively both by their success or the lack of success. Both extremes can be destructive.
Marriages have been destroyed.
Families altered significantly.
Friendships fractured permanently.
Church involvement affected.
All because of either a publishing success or failure.
Most authors don’t truly grasp how much being an author places them in a precarious position, if they allow it. You are choosing to be a “public person” resulting in being the target of both appreciation and criticism.
It is a risky business if you are not prepared spiritually and emotionally.
The best way to deal with it is through selective amnesia. (Often this comes naturally with age!)
Remembering only God’s faithfulness and his residency in you is the only thing that really matters. Everything else? Let it go.
Christian authors, who write beautiful passages on God’s faithfulness and his presence in the life of a believer, can sometimes be the very ones to forget the truths about which they write.
They forget their identity is in Christ, not in their writing.
They forget God gifted them with human relationships, not the first printed copies of a book.
They forget God is in control, not them.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians discussed leaving the past behind for fellow believers when he wrote,
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14, NIV).
“Forgetting” and “straining” are two very important aspects of being an author.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
“This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:16-19 NIV).
Forget failure, remembering only the lessons learned, be thankful for them, and strain forward.
Forget success, remembering only that you worship a God who blesses, be thankful for it, and strain forward.
Remembering and holding on tight to failure or success will eventually weigh down on you and stifle your growth as a writer and your availability to be used by God in meaningful ways.
No Christian writer would desire this to happen.
Can you relate to being weighed down by success or failure in your writing or publishing work? Tell us how; leave a comment.
Used by permission of Dan Balow and originally published on The Steve Laube Agency blog.
Dan started in Christian publishing in 1983 and over the last 30+ years has been involved with the business side of the industry in marketing, sales, foreign and domestic rights management, audio books, digital publishing, and acquisitions.
A significant amount of his experience was with Tyndale House Publishers from the early 90s to the mid-2000s. While there, Dan developed a wide-ranging perspective on the industry, taken from involvement with hundreds of authors, thousands of books and a love for the business. He joined The Steve Laube Agency in July 2013 and works with authors of non-fiction exclusively. He blogs on the company blog every Tuesday.