Thursday, 11 April 2019

Holding On and Letting Go

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay 

I’m not feeling the best while writing this. I caught a nasty bug over the weekend and my brain is still flagging. So today, I’m keeping it simple. 

The problem is that there is not a lot that’s simple in the life of a writer nowadays, not if you want to get your words out into the world. 

It's never been easy to be an author. It used to be that if you wanted your novel published there was one main way. You refined your craft and sent your manuscript out again and again either to literary agents or to the small number of traditional publishers who would accept unsolicited manuscripts. Getting accepted was a kind of lottery. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected anywhere between twelve and twenty-eight times depending on which article you read. And she (obviously) was one of the lucky ones. Writers have always had to persevere and wonderful stories have been rejected with their authors finally giving up their dream. In those days the only other option was to self publish, print a pallet load of books and store them in your shed until you either sold them or they rotted with mould. 

Things are a different today – but it’s still not simple. Today you can take the same journey towards traditional publishing – with lower or no advance – or you can be your own project manager and independently (indie) publish on online platforms such as Amazon and Apple Books. Indie publishing pays better royalties than traditional publishing but it still isn’t simple. If you follow that path there are so many decisions to make. You need to create a professional quality manuscript, which usually means paying for professional editing. You need a professionally designed cover and the insides of the book, be it e-book or paperback, should be well designed too. If you’ve done all those things then you still need to choose your platform. Do you publish your book as widely as possible or do you sacrifice independence and go exclusively with Amazon and enjoy the benefits of their Kindle Unlimited program? 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Just thinking about these things can be exhausting. Also, paid advertising has become a necessity if you want to properly promote your books. There are books and courses out there to tell you how to do this, but how do you sift through the advice? And having paid for editing and cover art, how do you find the funds to finance the advertising?

Publication is a complex process whichever path you pursue. Some people, frustrated by the traditional pathway and daunted by the indie one, opt for pay-to-publish options. Alas, many of these so-called publishers are vanity presses who prey on unsuspecting authors, They promise the earth but rarely deliver, even when you part with thousands of dollars. If you want to know more about what a vanity press is then read this article by Iola Goulton.

What are we to do? We feel a desire to write and believe it is part of our calling. Whether we create content that is overtly Christian or write stories seasoned with salt that give flavour to the world in which we live, we want our words to touch people with God’s love. Yet no matter what path to publication we choose, perseverance, knowledge and wisdom are vital. What do we do when it becomes all too much? How do we cope when we feel overwhelmed by it all? When we don’t know what to do?

At times like these I’m very glad I’m a Christian. People who don’t know Jesus are dependent on their own wit and wiles. But we have the resources of heaven at our disposal. We also have the rest that only Jesus can give. In Matthew 11:28-30 the Bible (NIV) says: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

Image by pixel2013 from Pixabay 
Many years ago, in my pastor days, I preached a sermon called Holding On and Letting Go. This has become one of the lessons I've had to learn and relearn again and again and again. Holding on is about persevering, not giving up, fighting the good fight. It’s about being diligent and doing things the best way we can. Letting go is resting in the abundant grace of our God and letting him work for us. Unless the Lord builds the house, it says in Psalm 127, the builders labour in vain. It's funny but I find it's a lot easier to hold on than to let go. Does that mean I like to be in control?

We don’t have to do this writing gig by ourselves. When we find ourselves stretched thin and wondering how we can move forward we need to remember that it’s not all about us. The true purpose and power of each word we write is in God’s hands. We need to learn to rest in that, and in him. Abandon ourselves to the one who knows us better than we know ourselves and is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). 

Image by Lisa Caroselli from Pixabay 

Do you find it easier to hold on in God’s strength or let go and rest? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

Susan J Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up she does the same kinds of things. Susan has worked for many years as a veterinarian, and writes stories filled with themes of suspense, adventure, romance and overcoming. Susan also loves to paint animals. Susan won the ‘Short’ section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and recently won the 'Unpublished Manuscript' section of the 2018 Caleb prize. Susan is the editor of 'If They Could Talk: Bible Stories Told By the Animals' (Morning Star Publishing) and her stories and poems have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story' is available on Amazon.comYou can check out Susan’s animal art on Facebook.


  1. Right there with you, Sue. For me, finding the courage, the strength, the perseverance, and the endurance to press on with writing and publishing goals means both fighting the good fight and floating on the wings of the Holy Spirit. The encouragement of others is a key factor for me when it comes to holding on and letting go. Often it's as simple as believing that I haven't come this far to be discouraged and that He who began a good work in me will see it through to completion. Thanks for your wise, pragmatic and reassuring encouragement.

    1. Thanks Mazzy. The path we’ve chosen is a reall walk of faith. You are right that the encouragement of others is VITAL.

  2. Hi Sue, thanks for sharing. This week has been just that for me with technical issues piling up. So easy to feel like giving up - so quite a few times I had to remind myself to keep going, do all what I could, be thankful for the small victories, but ultimatley leave the results and outcomes in God's hands.

    1. I’m sorry it’s been a tough week Jeanette. Sometimes that technical stuff is a huge pain. But I’m glad you are able to both push on and rest in him :)

  3. Great post Sue. Thank you. Loved the picture of the 'Right way'- thanks for sharing that too. I copied it to remind me that the Right way for us Christians is simply where the Spirit leads - sometimes it is to the right and sometimes to the left and sometimes over the hills or into the valleys. I think you've summed up the Christian life pretty well in your title. It's something God continues to call me to - to cling tight to Him and to persevere but also to rest in Him and what He will do through me when I surrender. Keeping that balance is not easy.

    I'm trying hard this year to be more disciplined and intentional in my writing journey but I can tell you I'm a long way from where I want to be.I will get there. Your post was a lovely reminder of what I need to do. So thank you. :)

    1. Thanks Anusha :). I’m glad the post helped. Ultimately the Lord reminds us that it’s his strength that we both fight - and rest - in as we do the things he has called us to do.