I, Ennis Charles Smith, am a self-proclaimed awesome writer. You don’t believe me, do you? That’s cool, because there are times when I have a hard time believing the claim myself. Self-doubt is a coat I rarely wear but, when I do put it on, its flashy color can’t be ignored. It tends to keep my feet glued to the starting blocks.
When a sprint competition starts, I always like to watch the runners line up and set their feet in the blocks. For that brief moment in time, every one of them is equal. The win belongs to any racer. All they have to do is listen for the gun to fire, and explode off the blocks.
How strange it would be to watch the runners line up; let’s say 10 of them. The announcer sounds off,
“Runners on your mark; get set,”
But, at the smart clap of the starting pistol, only nine runners take off. The lone guy frantically jerks around trying to free his cleats from the blocks. Baffled, the crowd can’t focus on the nine, because the one captivates their attention.
I swear, sometimes, this is what it feels like to have an idea explode within the confines of my mind, only to be mowed down before it actually comes to fruition. The culprit? What else! Self-doubt. It is the mother of all monkey wrenches, I tell you! Friend, you may be a new follower to my blog, or maybe you’ve followed me for quite some time. In any case, let me get transparent with you, for a moment.
Did you know that I actually wrote a book 10 years ago? It’s true; 37, 910 words of adventure penned on the job, over the course of about 6 months. The story practically wrote itself. I was simply going along for the ride. Well, I submitted it to a few publishers and agents in early 2005. Unfortunately, no one was interested in it, and that lack of interest killed my spirit. I shelved the book.
Two years later, I switched gears dramatically, and wrote a short tale of erotica. *Now, here’s my disclaimer for those of you who know I’m Christian: relax. It was a different time in my life. The Lord and I hadn’t gotten close yet.* Anyway, that story was good enough to capture the attention of famed Erotica queen ZANE. The story landed in an anthology book entitled, “Caramel Flava 2” and was published under my fancy-shmancy pen name, “E. Charles Smith” in 2009. My pay for the story’s inclusion? Zip. Another blow to my fragile writer’s ego.
In 2011, I had three separate short stories published in a single Christian anthology book entitled, “Rustlings: A Wherever It Pleases Anthology”. Contributing authors were promised a portion of the book’s proceeds. My cut to date? Zip. Yep, another blow to the writer’s ego.
Oh, trust me, I can go on. Last year, my testimony story made the cut for an anthology of 40 testimonies called, “Trials and Triumphs”. I don’t expect any pay day from that endeavor either. Now, this one would be a blow to the ego, except I was genuinely eager to see this book succeed because of the miraculous testimonies included. The stories in that particular book are down right life-changing testimonies: real people going through real struggles that only God could get us out of. My ego had to take a back seat to the Lord’s work. Yeah…no money hurts, but what are you gonna do?
I think you get my point, though. I have quite a few examples of some pretty good work making it to print, but no rewards received. Its enough to make the average novice writer say, “Man, %$#! this writing &*%$! I quit!”
Ephesians 4:29 just flashed in my mind. “Sorry for the outburst, Lord.”
Each time, I feel like, “This is it! I’m about to take off.” Each time, I find my feet firmly planted in the blocks. You might ask something like,
“Enn, if writing is such a letdown, then why do you keep at it? Go find something else to do with your time.”
I’m actually glad you asked that. Here’s my answer. Its what I was born to do. Despite the numerous setbacks (and believe me, there are some I haven’t listed), writing brings about a peace that I can’t really explain. It’s like a round cog fitting into its hole, in the box: perfect. Whether I’m paid for my talents or not, I know for a fact that my writing touches people is a way that I can’t always understand. To me, its just my emotions put to words. But to others, the words are something else.
I once had a guy tell me, “Dude, your character said the words I’ve been dying to say to my true love, my whole life. Its like you were inside my head.”
Wow! Really?! That’s awesome! That’s no fluke, either. That’s a calling. I was born to do this. When you know your purpose, nothing on earth is going to stop you from pursuing it. Money or lack there of; fame or no fame; titles or no titles; recognition or obscurity; N. O. thing will stop you.
And so, I keep at it. These days, I write knowing the Lord’s got me held down. Do you understand what that means? It means every time I write for Him, someone is going to be blessed; not by my talent, but by Him (Jesus) working through the gift He gave me in the first place. With God guiding my penmanship, or keyboard-man-ship, winning is only a matter of time.
So to all you would be Stephen Kings, Ted Dekkers, John Grishams, or Karen Kingsburys out there, keep at it. Sooner or later, your feet will come off the starting blocks, on “GO”. And when they do, you better be ready to run like the wind. This business we’re trying to break into is fickle and fleeting. Today’s hot author can be tomorrow’s literary pariah. You just get out there and run your race, once your feet are set free.
One day, I’m going to be a somebody in the writing world. I already know it. I’m just waiting for the gun to go off.