I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, August 30, 2010

Writers, Shake Your Pens!

Bestselling author--and Ponderer mentor--Susan May Warren

Most Americans follow the adage, "If at first your don't succeed, then try, try again." Or, as Ephesians 6:13 says, "Put on every piece of God's armor so that you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm." (NLV) The prophet Elisha reprimanded Israel's king for half-halfheartedly stamping his sheaf of arrows only three times on the floor instead of being more tenacious--and totally destroying Syria. (2 Kings 13)

I'm impressed by fellow Ponderers who have already completed three or four manuscripts, while still producing more. We're all inspired by our mentor, Susan May Warren, who learned and honed her craft during eight years as a missionary-wife and homeschooling mom of four children in Russia. Using hard-won bits of time, she studied, wrote, submitted and won a novella contest with Tyndale. When the door to further mission work closed in their assigned region because of changing politics, Tyndale asked Susie what else she had. She presented and sold seven manuscripts that year.

I have two children's books out, but last spring one agent's rejection of my first novel shook my confidence. I considered ditching that manuscript. But Ponderer Amy urged me not to--like talking a disheartened soul down from a skyscraper ledge.

After enjoying the view and letting the wind riffle my hair, what next? Now I'm halfway through my second novel, planning a third, and will soon attend my first national ACFW conference.

At the end of sixth grade, when advancing to junior high school, I dumped my imaginative childhood stories into the classroom wastebasket. By the next morning, when my sanity returned, the janitor and the incinerator had done their work. I have a good memory, so I rewrote most of those pieces, but I cannot recreate an entire novel.

In the face of discouragement, we must press on, incorporating the new skills and critique suggestions gleaned. We must shake our sheaf of arrows . . . er, pens vigorously and often, constantly honing and improving our craft. After all, we are writing for the Master Creative Designer of the universe--who also changes and blesses our lives in the process.

~Delores Topliff

Don't forget to participate in our August contest!


  1. Great insight, Dee! Everyone of us faces discouragement. The question is, who encourages us when we think, "I'll never write another worthwhile word ever, ever again?"
    Who helps us focus and "shake our pens"--staying true to our calling as writers?

  2. God is good, isn't He? This morning I've read this, the Inkspirational Messages blog of which I'm a part, and Seekerville, and they've all been an encouragement to me on a spiritual level. When I read that you'd thrown away your childhood stories, I literally cringed. I'm so glad you didn't do the same with your novel! Thanks for the words of wisdom this morning!

  3. This Ponderer is so thankful for a mentor like Susie. Sometimes when I get to thinking that no one would ever want to read anything I write, I get out some of the comments Susie's written on critiques and reread them. Thanks for reminding me, Delores!

    So I'm off now to shake my pens...or keyboard keys.

  4. Great post, Deloris! I've been talked off the ledge a few times myself. I'll be at ACFW too. I hope we get to meet!

  5. Susie is such an inspiration...and an incredible teacher, too! Great post, Delores, and a perfect reminder in the midst of my own pre-ACFW flurry...

  6. Delores,
    Your stories were incinerated, but look at it this way...God refines us through fire. Maybe you aren't suppose to remember every detail, maybe that is where you apply what you've learned and make the story better. Maybe that's where you hand the pen to God and let him write the story.
    Thanks for a beautiful post, Delores!

  7. How's that for an incentive to keep writing? 7 books in one year...

  8. Delores,
    Thanks for being transparent. It is amazing how sneaky discouragement can be, especially if we are not keeping our eyes on Jesus (not that you weren't, but I know I fail in this!). A number of things you "Ponderers" have shared on this blog have been a great encouragement to me as I continue in this new adventure in my life. I will continue to ponder what you shared about the king of Israel, and ask God to show me if I am being like him as I move forward in this dream/calling God has given me.

    Thanks again!

  9. Jeanne, it's exciting to see you starting out on the writing road. You're going to see your dream unfold--and make wonderful friends and be a wonderful friend to so many, many people. I'm glad I get a front-row seat. ;o)

  10. I love your post, Delores. It is such an encouragement. Thank you for reminding me where my focus is supposed to be.

  11. I love this post. Thank you for sharing! We all go through those times and have to pick ourselves up, dust off and keep on going.

  12. Delores, I appreciate your transparency. Thanks for reminding me to keep pressing on despite discouragement and to write for an audience of One.