It was a small thing, it was a big thing, it was one of the most memorable and important days of my life. Oh, no one understood my excitement. Most just “ho-hummed” when I announced the news. But for me, it altered my life’s trajectory and launched me on an orbit in which I continue today.
What was this big, small thing? A short devotional I sold to The Upper Room, a United Methodist publication, back in the 1980s. Though I was only paid $10 for it, it convinced me I could get paid for my writing. Since childhood, I’ve wanted to be a writer. All it took was this one small thing to start me on a professional literary career.
During a summer break from teaching school, I wandered into a bookstore and happened upon a book titled Writing to Inspire, a collection of articles written by then-leaders in the Christian literary industry. I picked it up out of curiosity and thumbed through its pages.
My eyes hit upon a chapter on devotional writing. The chapter’s author? Mary Lou Redding, editor of The Upper Room. Well, since my background is Methodist, I was familiar with this little publication. I purchased the book, took it home, and read the chapter. Maybe I could write for this magazine, I thought.
Following Mary Lou’s tips, I wrote the article. After I typed it out on my electric typewriter, I submitted it with SASE (Self-addressed, stamped envelope). A few months later, I received an acceptance letter. And a few months after this, once my article was published, a check arrived in my mailbox! My long-dormant desire to become a professional writer resurfaced. I was off and running.
While I wrote and submitted more articles, I also took correspondence and college courses, subscribed to writing magazines, and studied the craft. Another year passed before I sold my second article. Because I’d learned to expect rejections, though, their sting didn’t hurt as bad. I’ve received a load of rejections, but the Lord has blessed me with bylines as well.
If there’s one thing this experience taught me, it’s this: don’t despise small things, because small things can lead to bigger things in the future, like they did for me. Short articles such as devotionals have their own challenges and are hard to write.
Don’t let the “ho-hummers” discourage you, either. If God has called you to write, if He’s put that literary drive in you, He’ll bless you in your efforts. Most non-writers/non-readers don’t understand writing and writers, but the Lord does. Having His blessing and approval is, after all, all that matters.
Till next week, friends, keep on writing!