My favourite genre.
I spent five months working on the story. The characters were sassy, gruff & deeply layered. The countries I created were mystical & unique & the theme of my story was profound.
I was in love with my creation & if I’m truly honest with myself… I had become narcissistic.
It was my first competition. There’d be five winners & I knew I’d be one. How could they not love my story as much as me? I was a perfect match for their competition & already basking in the glory.
Then came the awful truth. If I entered the competition & won, all the work I’d done, all the characters I loved, would be signed away. The publisher would have FULL copyright rights & license to my story. I was flabbergasted. How could I sign the form? I couldn’t. Yet, I’d spent months plotting & writing specifically for THIS competition. How could I not? Gah!
What was I to do?
I asked fellow writers if this was common for competitions, I asked what they would do in my case & I got several different answers. Most, however, told me the submission form was not author-friendly & urged me to stay away. Still I struggled, with all the work I’d put into the project, was it now all for nothing?
I mean I was supposed to win this. I was going to be published!
During one discussion a friend urged me to finish what I started. “You’ll love the next one just as much.” He said & I heard his challenge… but the "What if's" still struggled away. What if I won the competition & a film producer read it & and what if that producer wanted to make it into a film? I’d have no control over the project. The publisher would have full ownership to say “yes” or “no”. It would be heart-breaking because I’m not just a writer. I’m a filmmaker too. I couldn’t watch my story get turned into a big blockbuster success & have no control over it. No. I wouldn’t enter the competition.
It was then I realized how out of control I had become. I was being prideful. Narcissistic. The chances of my little novella being seen by a producer & turned into a feature film were slim to none, but I had reached the point it WOULD happen. I’d blame my over active imagination like I had no choice in the matter, but it wouldn’t be true. Looking back, I can see where I let good, healthy admiration for my story turn into something vain. Ugly.
I was in the wrong.
I had let my God-given talent become a snarling, terrifying monster. Ironic considering the story I wrote was a retelling of Beauty & the Beast.
In the end, I decided not to enter the competition, but it took some long, hard soul searching to be sure I was making the decision for the right reasons. I needed to protect my creative equity not for vain, selfish gain, but because I wasn't finished with the story. God still wanted to teach me something through the characters He was co-creating with me. Which leads me nicely to the moral of this little tale. Be proud of what you write and keep it safe, but don’t let it grow into something monstrous and narcissistic because then your beautiful work will become ugly.
What about you, have you ever let your love for story become a hindrance to your God-given talent?
Charis Joy Jackson is working as a missionary with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organization & is part of The Initiative Production Company. She loves creating stories & is currently writing a novel, which she hopes to create into a seven part series.
Here's to a life lived in awe & wonder.
Welcome to the adventure.