Friday, February 18, 2011

Purging the Dross

Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel (Prov 25:4)

I met her at Sam's near the book section. She approached several of us and politely asked for our opinion. "I'm an author, and I'm trying to figure out where to put my name on my book cover."

I knew without asking, but I did anyway. "Self-published?"

Her brows bounced with surprise. "Yes. Traditional publishing would take too long."

I asked how long she'd been writing.

"Since February."

It was October. During a discussion about her book cover, she admitted her story was based on her life. "It's a Romance."

So she thought, but she didn't have a clue how a Romance should be structured. Nor had she heard of Romance Writers of America or any other writers' group. I asked who was publishing her book. She told me. By now, I couldn't hide the cringe.

"My sister-in-law recommended them. That's who she uses."

Feeling a bit sick, I asked if she had a marketing plan. She told me no, but the publisher would help market the book for a couple thousand dollars. Remembering sales statistics I'd heard at a conference, I suggested she create her own plan. She didn't know how.

By now, she was curious and asked if I was a writer. I answered yes.

"Are you published?"

With the humility it took years to learn, I answered no, and my admission that I'd been writing for six years seemed to confirm her decision to self publish. It wasn't my place to disagree, but silently, I did.

I've had my ups and downs, my failures and finally, accomplishments. At times, the difficulty knocked me off my feet, and then, out of the running. Something always pulled me back in. Through my affiliation with ACFW, I learned about plot, structure, active writing, emotion and conflict, editing, writing a synopsis, a short story, challenging myself by going outside my genre. Though I'm going in with jaw clamped, I'm learning about marketing. I've met other wonderful writers, both published and soon-to-be.

They say writing is hard work. They're right. They say it isn't for sissies. They're dead on. They say traditional publishing takes years. Not for everyone, apparently. But "They" are authors who have already walked that road, and despite the challenges--and at times, heartaches--I'm glad I chose the traditional route. I've learned. I've grown. I've improved my craft.

You've heard the illustration, but it bears repeating. To purify silver, the metal is heated to 1,200 degrees Celsius. The dross--the impurities--rises and is then removed. This is usually used to explain a Christian's life and their ongoing sanctification, but it applies here, too.

The traditional route to publishing may take years, but through the resulting struggles, the dross of our ignorance is being removed, leaving us with experience and knowledge forged by fire. Ready for the trials to come.

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