Ava Pennington

Author, Ava Pennington

Hi, Ava Pennington here, with an observation about the routes we take in our writing. One of the most helpful gifts I’ve received is a GPS for my car. Helpful, because if there’s a way to get lost, I’ll find it. So I’m dependent on that little voice that says, “In fifty yards, turn right.”

When I program my GPS for a long trip, I’ve noticed that it often gives me options. I can avoid toll roads, but the trip may take longer. I can choose the shortest route, but it may cost more. I can travel by freeway or select a scenic route. Different routes to the same destination.

Our writing journeys can also take different routes. Some people have been writing since they were old enough to grasp a crayon. Others discovered a desire to write later in life, perhaps even after retirement from a primary career. Many regularly attend writers’ conferences. Some majored in writing-related fields in college.

There’s one more area in which our journeys are different – and may even provoke some twinges of envy. Some of us have been blessed by publication of our first submission. Others of us toiled for years, wallpapering our walls with rejections before we received the call.

So what happens when you attend conferences for years, unable to convince an agent or editor of your latest project’s worthiness, while someone else receives multiple contracts at her first conference? Despite being a Christian, those twinges of envy may be difficult to push away.

We can bemoan the unfairness of it all, or we can realize that each person is traveling a route laid out by our Sovereign God. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the creative gifts God has given us. That means studying and writing. Developing our craft and writing. Participating in critique groups and writing. Attending conferences and writing. Did I mention writing?

It can be difficult to focus on our projects as we watch others achieve successes we wish were our own. But it’s dangerous to compare ourselves to others or to question their journeys. Even the apostle Peter learned that when he looked over at John and asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:21 NIV). Jesus answered him, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22).

Follow Jesus. Follow Him in your writing. Follow Him in your marketing. Follow Him in your networking and your conference attendance and your critique group participation. Be a good steward of the gift He has given you, follow Him, and leave the results to Him, regardless of what He is doing with the next person. When you do, He will get all the glory. And ultimately, isn’t that the destination we all strive to reach?

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