Monday, November 18, 2013

What Makes You Think You Can Write a Book?

by Michelle Wilson

I was chatting with a friend of mine a few months ago who has harbored a long-hidden desire to write a non-fiction book about the gospel 

"Why don't you?" I asked.

"I don't know. I just feels . . . presumptuous. I mean, what do I have to offer? Who am I to think I can write something and make people pay money for it? What qualifies me to write a book for help others? What makes me think I can write a book?"

In speaking of my non-fiction writing, I have always loved to write inspirational tid-bits for women, so much so that I wrote a book. It was after  I wrote a book and signed on with a publisher that my friend and I had this conversation. 

I have to admit, the moment he said that, my wheels started turning. I looked at other inspirational books out there. Many were moving stories of faith and inspiration by people who survived amazing circumstances. I never did. Don't get me wrong, I've had my ups and downs, but I've never had to endure what I would call extreme hardship. Some books were written by scholars and experts in their field. Not me. I never graduated college. Don't even get me started about high school. Some books were written by church leaders. I was just called as a ward missionary. The Bishop must not trust me, because he called my husband as my companion. I guess I used the term "Goin' rogue" one too many times in my last calling. Lol. 

I looked at these authors and I began to wonder, what do I have to offer? What qualifies me to write a book for others? "What makes me think I can write?"

I'm embarrassed to tell you that the questions festered inside for longer than I want to admit. Underneath the excitement of my upcoming release, they mulled around the back of my mind. The questions grew louder as I attended different conferences and read other inspirational books and stories. 

I'm not a survivor, scholar, expert, or leader. I'm just me. What do I have to offer?

Then a scripture came to my mind that I had read just about a year ago. It was morning of the last day of my first writer's retreat. I picked up my scriptures, and as I often do, I said a prayer and let the pages fall open. I looked down and read: 

 "And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer. And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare that the Lord reigheth!" (Mosiah 27:37-37). 

This was referring to Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Of course they weren't publishing books, but they were getting a good and righteous message out. By doing what the Lord asked them to they "published" peace and good tidings of good. It wasn't all their doing, Heavenly Father was using them as His instruments to share a message. 

I recognized then, allowed myself to forget for a while, but understood once again that the thing that qualifies me to write isn't past experiences, education, or position. He has given me the talents and desire to write. It is my willingness to be an instrument in His hands that qualifies me to write. So when I write, I acknowledge His hand, and all that I write I do with a prayer and a purpose--to write what He would have me write. 

What makes me think I can write a book? God does. 

This does not apply only to non-fiction, either. 

Over this past year I've met many talented and amazing women writers--most of them fiction writers. Some have great confidence in their abilities and their purpose. Yet, others (more than not) question their ability, their qualifications, and even themselves. They wonder why they are writing and writing, yet never getting published. They wonder how many drafts it will take until their book is done. They feel guilty for trading family time for writing time, so they steal hours from their sleep to write. They are discouraged, impatient, and doubtful. They may even be asking the same questions my friend did, the very questions I allowed myself to entertain. What makes them think they can write a book?

I would say to them:  He has given you the talent and the desire to create ideas, stories, situations, people, and places in your mind and, through the keys of your keyboard, bring them to life. Acknowledge His hand, and write with a prayer and a purpose. Bring to life the stories and messages He only can through you.

What qualifies you to write a book? What makes you think can write?  He does.

And there's not higher qualification than that.

PS- I joke about my calling, but for the record, I know my Bishop was inspired to call me as a ward missionary, and I am where I'm supposed to be :)

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