Stronghold has performed adequately for a self-published novel. I am not heartbroken at its immense failure nor awed by its runaway success. I'm simply contented with its exposure to the present and hopeful that it's still finding enough of an audience to have a life in the future.
The future has been on my mind quite a bit these days. As I get more comfortable in my new job, I am considering how I want my life to look in the next year--or three or five or ten. This is forcing me to think realistically about my writing endeavors moving forward, about what they can be and what they can't. Frankly, I have days when I question whether I should continue or let Stronghold be a solitary release from a once-dreaming author.
But those who know me well realize that such a thought is fleeting. My desire to write has grown from interest to compulsion, from vague ideas to concrete need. Like so many Christians before me, I think that "God has given me the ability to write, and when I do it, I feel his pleasure" (thanks to the makers of Chariots of Fire for summing that up so well). Writing is, in so many ways, my new means of psychological decompression--of taking all that sensory overload from the world and trying to distill it into a few words that might make someone else's life better.
Therefore, the writing continues. Regardless of Stronghold's success or lack thereof, I cannot be discouraged. I have two wonderful projects in the pressure cooker right now. My wife just read the first three chapters of my teen romance, and I don't mind saying that I was pleased with her supportive response. I have alot of cleaning to do on it--about a year's worth. Plus, I am venturing into another genre with the sci-fi novel that I will write as part of this year's National Novel Write Month. I'm excited for both for altogether different reasons.
But in some ways the daunting task of completing another book is discouraging. I think of the long hours wherein I'd rather be doing anything else. I think of struggling with the same sentence over and over to get it right. I think of cutting my favorite stuff from draft 2 by the time I hit draft 6, and I think of the last typos we'll find when the physical proof arrives. I think about these things, and I wonder--can I really do this again (and again)? On top of that, I carry another lingering fear. What if my other books aren't as good as the first? What if Stronghold is the best I can produce?
Yet I also think of something else--something far stronger than sloth and fear. I think of the fact that God has given me a talent, and I have an obligation to use it--and use it well--to invest it so that it brings glory to the Lord and builds his kingdom.
This is a powerful motivator.
And it's coupled with another. Inasmuch as I desire to love God through my art, I also desire to show love to others, and the truth--the real truth--is that the next novel might be the one to which some readers will deeply connect. Perhaps it will be the book that strikes them at their core, the book that gives them that feeling of being understood, moved, or captivated.
I think about those readers alot. I believe they are out there, unknowingly waiting to take a journey that has yet to be written. I'm excited to sit at the keys for them. Oftentimes, they are the reason I keep creating.
And those readers can be your reason for creating, too. Whatever it is that you do: music, film, paintings, what-have-you----whatever your art----you must keep doing it. Not only for your own personal sanity and release. Not even solely because God gave you the ability (though, that, in and of itself, is an excellent reason). Do it for the one who has yet to be moved by the thing that you will create. Do it for that person. Or, thinking on a broader scale, for "those persons": the many who will connect with one another by first connecting to your art. You may not know them now; in fact, you may never know them. But introduce them to yourself through your work. It may be the catalyst to give them a deeper view of the world, or themselves, or maybe even to one another.
And that is an encouraging thought. One that has me inspired to get through another draft. How bout you?
Thanks for reading!