Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Just" Cause

I've been a member of ACFW for nearly two years now, but I need to come clean with all of you. You see, I have a little secret that sometimes comes to the surface and I just need to spill it once and for all. I'm not a fiction writer. There. I've said it. Whew!

You see, even though this is the first group I joined when I jumped feet first into this writing gig, most of the writing I do is non-fiction. I write devotionals, journalistic pieces, magazine articles, literary non-fiction, and newsletters. My fiction writing is limited to several short stories and lots of ideas. But since I started writing, it's all I can do to keep up with the assignments in the non-fiction realm. I faithfully read the loop and I've learned so much about writing--both fiction and non-fiction--from ACFW. But I feel like I'm still in soak-up-all-you-can mode when it comes to writing fiction.

I've celebrated with those members acquiring agents, signing contracts, and finalling in the Genesis and mourned with each one of you who has experienced rejection, lost manuscripts, and got yucky judges comments. I get so caught up in the dream of seeing a fiction book in print that I forget that I've already done something a lot of people can't say--I've been published.

This summer I attended a writer's conference that offered workshops for both fiction and non-fiction writers. My friend Christa and I settled in at a table for a break. After a few pleasantries and answering the favorite question of all writers--What do you write?--one woman asked me if I was published. I answered, "Yes, but just in non-fiction."

Christa looked at me, her eyebrows arching toward her hairline and said, "Did you say just?"  Chagrined, I promptly rephrased my answer. But that got me thinking.

I realized that because of my involvement with ACFW, I had inadvertently told myself that since I was a writer, but not an author, I hadn't yet arrived. Let me be clear that no one in ACFW ever expressed this attitude to me, it was all my own doing. Not only had I discounted the accomplishments I'd made, but I'd short-changed the gift God had so generously given to me in the form of a blossoming freelance career.

That made me wonder what other things I saw with a just attitude. Did I discount my role as care-taker to my children, reasoning that I'm just  a mother? Do I down-play the abilities God's given me to minister to His body by brushing aside compliments, saying I'm just  a teacher, or just  an encourager, or just an administrator? In the face of thanks from a friend or church member for helping in their time of need, do I shrug and chalk it up to just prayer?

When I put that little word in front of any good thing given to me by God or any good things He does through me, I discount the blessings He bestows and the sacrifices He's made. I'm determined to get rid of that four-letter word and rejoice in the way God is using me now. You see, my goal is not to change my title from "writer" to "author". My goal is not to publish in fiction. My goal is to be obedient to God and to glorify Him with my life.

How about you? What things are you just doing? What blessings do you approach with a just  attitude?


  1. I can kind of relate ... I was "just" a reporter for 10 years, first at daily newspapers.

    It's all good, because I learned how to write on deadline and also got to observe a lot of wacky people in their natural habitats.

    Think of it as material you are stock piling for future use! That's how I think of my current situation where I am "just" a factory worker, "just" a farmer's wife and "just" a mom with a mini-van.

    I'm thankful for being blessed with all those "justs"!

  2. Aren't you a student of Doc Hensley? He would tell you to write everything! LOL.

    But I know what you mean! I have worked with several authors who won contests and published.I've published over 900 book reviews and some articles. I've written countless reports for author on their manuscripts. Yet, I often say, "No, I'm not published."

    Anyway. God uses our writing in many ways. Keep writing and I'm glad you're part of our group!

  3. I am glad you are part of our ACFW group too. I call myself pre-published although I too have published non-fiction magazine articles. Hmmm.

  4. Your secret's good with all of us, we'd never think of making this public. Oops, you already did.

  5. As a writer who published more than 400 articles, columns, and devotionals, as well as four biographies, before her "first" contract, I can relate. The continual simmering "crock pot" effect of combined fiction and nonfiction backgrounds enriches the flavor of our writing.

  6. Thanks, ladies for your encouraging words. Good to know I'm in such talented and gracious company here in ACFW.

  7. As someone who is continually teaching/telling others not to discount God's gifts, I think you've touched on one area where I've got the "justs". In my case it's because my non-fiction writing isn't current. As if there's a sell-by date stamped on my keyboard. Thanks for the encouragement, Nikki.