When an Author Loses Her Way

Guest Blogger Ginny L. Yttrup

My latest novel, Home, is about an author who runs away. But what does it look like when an author loses her way?

It looks a lot like this…

A Lost Author

Awareness comes slowly. The whirring of a fan. The rhythmic snore of a dog somewhere near my feet. Lids heavy, I open my eyes to darkness. No need to look at the clock on the nightstand, my internal alarm is set for 3:45 AM this week.

I tell myself to go back to sleep, knowing I can’t. Or won’t? It doesn’t matter, a shot has already sounded and my mind is off and running. A sprint toward something I don’t take time to define. Maybe I don’t want to define it.

Ideas spin, each more profitable than the last. My heart rate quickens.

I switch on the bedside lamp, then pick up my phone and scroll through email and several social media platforms while letting my post-sleep vision clear. At least that’s what I tell myself. I register for another list-building webinar, order a recommended marketing book, and respond to a potential coaching client who messaged me via Facebook.

Thirty or so minutes later, I open my Kindle app, spend thirty seconds or less reading a devotional, flip over to my Bible app, glance at the verse of the day and ponder whether I should post it on social media or not. When did I last post a verse? Do I post too many? Too few? I decide against posting. I spend several more seconds scanning the assigned chapter in my reading plan. Somewhere in Hebrews a verse catches my attention, almost. But there’s work to do.

I need to earn a living.

Plus, I need to be a good steward of the talents God’s given me. Right?

The voices I’ve listened to all week—those promising to increase my platform numbers and income by tenfold if I buy what they’re selling—assure me I’m on the right track.

I climb out of bed and into a day of frenetic planning and…posturing.

An Author Found

The next morning, the cycle repeats.

But this time, during my 60 seconds of quality time with God, a voice, gentle as a breeze, whispers through my mind and cuts me to the core. “You cannot serve two masters.”

I pause and let truth do its work. There is no condemnation, just grief at the realization that over the last week, and many times over the years since my first book was published, I’ve forsaken my first love as I’ve chased after income.

This is a humbling public confession for one who often writes about intimacy with God. But I have nothing of value to offer others if not for the work God is doing in my own soul.

I spend the remainder of the week adjusting my focus. I take time away from work. I soak in Scripture. I practice stillness and listening.

I make it sound easy, but in truth, it is a battle. But finding my way back to the gracious arms of the only One who truly matters is worth the fight.

The Struggle

As a writing coach, I’ve had enough conversations with writers to know I’m not the only one who occasionally finds herself bowed before the wrong god. Whether its striving to increase platform numbers, sales numbers, or the number of dollars in our checking accounts, we face foes who seem to demand our allegiance.

Scripture tells us we cannot serve two masters. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” Matthew 6:24

How do we know when we’ve lost our way? Perhaps part of the answer is found in the striving.

Striving

There is nothing wrong with building platforms or marketing our work. Both are part of the job God’s given us as writers. To be paid for our work is also appropriate, and necessary for many of us.

But when we find ourselves striving, or “struggling in opposition,” as defined by Merriam Webster, it’s a clue that we’ve lost our way.

Striving is a sure sign that we’ve replaced God as master and put ourselves on the throne. Not what we’re doing. Not what we’re building. Not what we are or aren’t earning. But us.

Me. Myself. And I.

Center stage.

Faith

When we’re depending on our own sufficiency for the outcome of our efforts rather than placing our faith in God and the abundance He offers, our focus becomes skewed and we lose our way.

Faith and striving cannot coexist. One negates the other.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” (Jesus of Nazareth)

May we, in all we do, place our faith in Providence and rest in His generous care.


Ginny L. Yttrup, award-winning author of five novels, writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. “Publishers Weekly” dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not writing, Ginny coaches writers, critiques manuscripts, and designs websites for authors.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

14 thoughts on “When an Author Loses Her Way

  1. Ginny, have you been reading my personal journal?? Thank you for putting into words what it feels like to be in my skin these days. I came to the same realization: too much striving on my own strength when it comes to writing. Need more God time so I’m better able to hear His voice.
    Otherwise, I’m a clanging cymbal.

    • Karen, our journals must read the same. Yes, without time with Him, our focus becomes skewed. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!

  2. Yeah … … I feel like I have been looking into the mirror.

    I am so sick of “platform” this and “platform” that. Platform is rapidly becoming an expletive for me.

    • Damon, it’s known as the “P” word in my circle of friends. But it is a means God seems to use to get the messages He’s given us out to others.

      • Self-aggrandizement–ugh. Agreed. And it’s so easy to fall into that when marketing our work. It’s imperative to stay close to God in the process.

  3. Love, love, love this, Ginny. Thank you for your authenticity in sharing this struggle. And for your timely insights.

  4. Early in my writing career, the last words in Matt. 6:24 (NIV) made an impression on me: “You cannot serve God and Money.” I keep coming back to them when I feel pressured to market, market, market.

    I’ve made a choice that I don’t expect other writers to make, and that is to write what I believe I’m supposed to, do a necessary amount of marketing, and let go of my concern about turning a profit. Naive, I know. Idealistic, true. But it’s a settled issue between God and me.

    Ginny, you are the first person I’ve encountered who seems to have similar concerns. Thank you for putting it so well for us Inspire Writers.

    • Ellen, thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience. There is a place for marketing, absolutely, but not at the expense of our relationships with God. Idealistic or truth? I think you’ve embraced truth. I’m attempting to do the same. Easy? Nope. But with God…

  5. Dear Ginny,
    While searching the Internet (again) for some kind of direction as to what, and if, I should attend a writer’s conference and submit a proposal, I came across this site. Your post on the lost author resonated with me. In 2007 our first published book, Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved, was released by Focus on the Family/Tyndale House. Our agent was Steve Laube. I am lost. I need a group and miss my calling. While our non-profit ministry requires resources for those in need (which we self-publish and distribute through Amazon and our website), there is something missing. I live in Modesto, California, and would like to know more about how to connect with other writers.

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