The Call

First of all, I want to send out a big congratulations all the 2012 ACFW Genesis Contest semifinalists, especially my fellow Alley Cats who made the cut: Cindy, Pepper, and Casey! I am so proud of you and am cheering you on!

But some of you did not make that cut. And this blog is for you. This is not the blog I’d planned to write today. But throughout the afternoon, my perspective changed, and I want to be sensitive to that because I suspect many of you are feeling the same way.

As I’m sure many of you already know, the results of the ACFW Genesis contest have been released. As the day rolled by yesterday, I found myself checking my phone more and more often. What began as a casual, “Oh, are the results being released this week?” turned into me jumping every time my phone made the slightest noise, or even lit up in my purse. Could that be it? I kept thinking. Could that be . . . the call?

Moment of transparency: I really thought I was going to semifinal. Last year I semifinaled, and have since signed with an amazing agent, so it only seemed logical I would semifinal again. And I’ll be honest, I had hopes of making it further than that. Don’t we all? So when the only phone calls I got were from a bogus home security company, let’s just say I was a bit rocked.

As in, I drove through McDonalds for French fries and changed into my fuzzy pajamas as soon as possible.

I don't handle failure well. I was always the kid who studied the spelling words she already knew, whose good grades contributed to her confidence. Yes, I realize the contest is subjective and it doesn’t mean I’m not a good writer. I’m sure the rest of you who didn’t semifinal know the same thing. But that knowledge doesn’t chase away the feelings of insecurity and doubt that come knocking on our heart’s door, does it?

But as I sat back and thought about it, and as I considered what I would write for this blog, a thought hit me.

Who’s call am I most worried about? A judge’s, or God’s?

The space you enter when you approach failure, disappointment, and discouragement is the space that defines who you will become as a writer. Are you concerned with the praise of others, or with the praise of God? Who are you writing for? Whose story are you telling?

If you are here, reading this, it’s probably because God has called you to write. So look at the feedback you receive with an open heart, continue improving in the craft, and seek critiques whenever you can. It’s okay to need encouragement from other writers and to seek a mentor. But at the end of the day, know where the treasure of your calling lies. With God. And with God, all things are possible, through Him who loves us and has called us according to His purpose.

Philippians 1:16: "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

How do you handle the inevitable disappointments of the writing life? How can we use these things to strengthen our approach to writing and stories, and to glorify God?


  1. Wish I could give you a big ol' hug, Ashley! Not getting chosen is a hard thing, but you have to remember that it is definitely not a failure to not be picked. To me, failure is more about giving up. Not getting picked is more about a bump in the road. And all those bumps help us toughen our skin and build up muscle to endure the journey.

    I love your spirit! (for I see God in you!)

  2. Phillipians 1:6 is my mantra--It's already on my tombstone! It has sustained my life since my injury in 1991 and keeps me writing. I've never won any contest but I'm often praised. You see I write what God has done in my life.

  3. Sherrinda, you are too precious! Thank you for our kind words.

    Berta, it's such a good verse, isn't it? Such an encouragement that God will never let us go.

  4. Thank you. I needed that. Only days before I got the call from a secular group, saying I final-ed in their contest, in the inspirational category. But Genesis meant more to me. You helped me refocus and look UP for a smile.
    My response to the discouragement:
    After a day in the doldrums I realized I needed to get back on the horse, so I signed up for the Blue Ridge Writer's Conference in May. Earlier I'd decided I couldn't afford the time and money, but now I realize I need the fellowship and encouragement that comes from a Christian writing environment. It is so great that we're not alone on this road. Bless you all.

  5. What a great perspective, Jane, using a discouragement as something to empower your writing. I have found writer's conferences to be a great networking tool, and I always feel so encouraged after coming home, so I hope that's the way it is for you! And if you haven't been to a conference before, my advice is: don't forget to take naps. :)