Last night a very challenging question was posed to me by my good friend and fellow author, Tina Bustamante. What follows below is the chain of conversation we shared beginning with the original challenge and followed by our responses to each other. Tina’s first book AS WATERS GONE BY is due to come out in November, and trust me, it’s an excellent read. Please feel free to visit her and read about her adventures living in Chile: tinabustamante.com. I received her permission to share this conversation and so I hope it will be encouraging to all of you who read it.
My dear friend Doug,
Okay … here’s a very direct question and one you need to be very honest about with me. What is your hope with your writing career? Are you hoping to write more books? Make a living at it eventually? Or are you loving the idea of writing a novel every few years and keeping it containable? Please tell.
I ask because if you want to build up a readership and grow your platform … you need twitter and all those other media things to give you a platform. But you seem reluctant, so I’m trying to understand.
Talk to you soon.
You are a very good friend and I appreciate your direct and pointed questions. To drive the point directly home, it would be best to simply state that I’ve chosen a God-driven path, not a career-driven path. Other books I’ve written were meant to drive toward a writing career, and by all accounts they should have been picked up as I observed the reading market and recognized gaping holes that needed to be filled; I had meticulously plotted, written, and edited the books; I studiously hand selected appropriate agents, categorized them into spread-sheets, queried them and ultimately received well over a hundred rejections in the process. It became obvious that my efforts were being deliberately–and divinely blocked…and trust me, I got angry about this. Angry at God.
It was in the Fall of 2010 that He confronted me directly with His response in the Genesis story about Jacob wrestling the Angel; it was no different with me. I was pleading with God to bless me, fervently, but in the end He “broke my hip” and I was convicted about the way I was trying to drive toward success. It was time I tried something different and OLDE MYSTERIUM is the product of obedience, not of market research, not of meticulous plotting. It was a process of freely letting God breakdown my strongholds and ideals regarding career paths and success, and in the end He began changing me into a greater likeness of Jesus.
The process of giving things up to Him hasn’t ended, in fact it’s continued. I searched for agents for OM, but He asked me to make Jesus my agent; so I did. I searched for publishers for OM, but He convicted me and asked me to give that path up and do it a different way; so I did. I started a FB page for OM and began attracting some followers, but He asked me to step away from it; so I have. He’s asked me to refrain from marketing and promotion so I can learn how to rest in Him, to take time to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) . And it even goes deeper into my personal life as God has used this summer to reclaim and restore my marriage and my family life…something I could not have expected in my wildest dreams (although I remember pleading in prayer to be closer to Caity and have more time with the kids); yet it was a full trust fall into His arms to do these things, both frightening and full of promise.
It looks backward, but remember: this is the God-driven path, not the career-driven path. He has a tendency to reveal the world’s wisdom as foolish…and God’s foolishness is wiser than the world’s greatest wisdom.
And now here I am, a better husband, a better father, a better person…and it’s all because of giving over these obstinate areas of my life to Jesus the Messiah. Instead of being filled with anger and resentment over rejection, I’ve been able to grow closer to the ultimate source of joy, be filled with an unending abundance of peace and learn how to pour out my love in every direction upon the broken people all around me. That’s really all the platform I could ever want or need…and I’m more than happy to let Jesus do all the promoting. Yet I do see a growing audience, but any and all success belongs solely to Him and is fully dependent on His timing; I can’t force it, and I’ve stopped trying to speed it up.
It’s a far cry from where I was, but when I look at all of the things I was asked to give up, they’re miniscule compared to what I’ve received in return. This is all why I often sign off my emails with SOLI DEO GLORIA (Latin: Glory to God Alone) and I’ve also been signing copies of OM the same way. It all belongs to Him anyway…and all I want to do is be in His presence and perhaps even have a chance to “touch his garment” (Luke 8:43-48).
I apologize for the lengthy explanation and I hope this helps to resolve any confusion. You are truly a wonderful and supportive friend and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this with you. I look forward to seeing you in November on your book tour!
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
Doug what a great email.
I appreciate your life and love for God so much. I’ll respond or in length later, but just want to say thanks.
Thanks for sharing, being honest, and for being a great example.
You bet Tina. I also forgot to add that “yes” I’m very serious about writing. I know it’s taken root in my heart, as well as it has yours. I will be a writer for the rest of my days, and I hope that means many, many books to come.
And to add – I think God himself will establish you and as you trust him, listen to his voice … He’ll lead you to green pastures.
Thank you Tina. It’s refreshing to receive encouragement from a good friend.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!