I’ve been writing novels for seventeen years. My first book was published in 2001. All in all, I’ve had twenty-five books released. Two more are written and will be published by the end of the year. I’m working on two more with one more still to write in my current contract. That’s close to thirty books. Hopefully, I’ve learned something along the way. Being an author can be like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down. To stay with it, I’m convinced you have to know God’s will for your life. Unless you’re certain God has called you to write, it’s hard to hang on while this rough ride twists and turns, sometimes almost throwing you out of your seat.
Many years ago, when I began to realize the time and dedication it would take to become a published author, I asked God to confirm that this was truly the direction He was leading me. He did that in a big way. That confirmation gave me the courage to continue – and when things didn’t go my way – it gave me a way to laugh it off and keep going. After all, I was doing God’s will, right? But little by little, I began to realize that there is a second tier to this journey. The end result. What am I going for? Why do I write?
I’ve asked God to share with me His vision for my writing. There is precedence for this. God told Mary she would have a blessed child. He promised Abraham his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky. Jesus told the disciples how they would die. (Hoping God’s response to me doesn’t include this information!) Of course, I’m hoping God’s response will include the words, “New York Times Best Sellers List.” LOL! To say authors don’t care about sales is ridiculous. We do. Yet I’ve seen good authors fall by the wayside, giving up when their sales numbers don’t match their expectations. Is this really the ruler by which we should measure our careers? I wonder.
Years ago, there was a popular song I really loved called “Thank You” by Ray Boltz. The song talked about how we can do things in this life that touch the hearts and lives of others without even realizing it. In one part of the song, Jesus is showing a person in heaven the effect his life had on others. The words are:
One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you're not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave.
How should we count our success as authors? By our sales numbers? Or by the hearts we’ve touched? Unfortunately, we won’t know these “heart numbers” until we stand in front of God. They’re hidden from us. Perhaps that makes it harder to believe we’re making a difference. Although making the best sellers’ list will give us satisfaction in this life, waiting until “that day” to see the true impact we made during our time on earth takes patience. When Jesus hands out rewards to authors, I don’t think He will say: “Hey, Nancy Mehl. You made the CBA best sellers list five times! And the New York Times Best Sellers list twice! I’m so proud of you!” But perhaps He might wave his hand toward a large group of people and say, “My child, look around you. These are lives that were changed. Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Is wanting success in this world wrong? Of course not. I’m still hoping for that New York Times list. But with God’s help, maybe the numbers that really drive me will be those that only God knows. The heart numbers.