the painful truth

Today was tough. I cried a lot and spent a lot of time just feeling really sad. And while I asked for prayer on Facebook and Twitter, I didn’t really plan on telling the whole story (or even part of it). Some things are better left unsaid.

Except when they might be able to help someone else.

I got to thinking a little bit ago that I might as well air it all out (well, 89% of it maybe) and let God use it however he’d like. I’m probably committing professional suicide, and I’m ignoring conventional wisdom to wait until the pain’s not quite so raw, but heck. Let’s roll with it.

Some back story. I got my first book published in 2006. Then 2007, 2008, 2009. January will mark three whole years without a book published. And it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve just gotten lots of rejections. On the plus side, they’re the good kind of rejections. “We love your writing, but your previous sales history is a strike against you.”

It’s nice to know I can write.

It stinks to know that my two out-of-print books have become hurdles that have proven impossible to get over. I can’t bring a book back to life; I can only work hard to sell the ones that are still alive. But even that’s not enough.

Long story chopped, lots and lots of my friends have been getting book deals lately. I’ve prayed for this very thing for these women, I love them dearly, yet it stings. And makes me wonder if I’ve had my little moment in the sun and now I’m all washed up. Pity party anyone?

I got an e-mail from a friend this morning that sent me over the edge. She had been afraid to e-mail me about her new book deal, because she knew how it might make me feel (how fun is it to be that person that people are afraid to share good news with??).

I went upstairs, laid across my bed, and bawled. Like snot-on-my-comforter bawled. And talked to Jesus the whole time. I told him that it hurt really bad but that I know he has a plan for my life. I told him that if it doesn’t involve any more books, I want to be cool with that. I want his bigger, better dreams for my life. I don’t want this to steal my Cambodia joy, that beautiful sense of purpose I feel when I’m loving the poor. I told him to take my writing dreams once and for all, because even though I’ve offered them up before, I’m pretty sure I’m still holding on, or this stuff wouldn’t hurt so deeply.

Then I e-mailed my friend and told her I was so proud of her and that her book is going to be awesome (she’s one of the best/funniest writers I know). And then I told her the snotting on the bed story.

She wrote me back and told me about a really cool message she heard this weekend that totally applied to my woes. And she ended with this: “Just know that I am cheering for you, I love you, and I see Him when I look at you.”

Just when I was done with the snot.

So I’m working on making the not-a-book into an e-book (coming soon to a computer, kindle, or nook near you), and while the self-pitying part of me wants to rip it all up, the optimistic side thinks it might just be something that people will like to read.

And if God wants to get glory through my failures or obscurity or weeping instead of my successes and popularity and happiness, so be it. I can say with 100% conviction that I want to live HIS dreams for my life more than I want any little dream of my own.

That doesn’t mean that dying to self won’t ever hurt. But I know with all my heart there’s a deeper joy around the corner.

35 thoughts on “the painful truth

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » james four in the flesh

  2. meghan

    Precious, Marla, you are loved. I want to hug you and tell you how much I get this. And I stand with you in faith knowing that He will fulfill His purpose in you and that He makes all things beautiful in His time.

  3. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    Dying to self always, always hurts. It’s something I keep learning and learning and learning.

    My heart hurts with you, but I know the way you use the gifts and talents He has given you will continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of others – no matter what format the words take shape.

  4. Dana Milan

    I had a similar experience regarding a job I was starting to take over. I (realizing only later) misunderstood a colleague and thought she said she was offered the job I had been waiting for and doing everything in my power to secure. (Of course she was younger and more attractive.) I was the logical choice. I felt my insides closing in on me and 2 strong forces pulling me in both directions – one telling me to be bitter and the other telling me to let go and trust. I followed the later and immediately felt at peace. God can put things in perspective and can lighten your heart.

  5. Pingback: Marla Taviano » james read-along: chapter 4

  6. Christi McGuire

    Thank you for sharing…for being so transparent. For those of us who are writers and still dream of having a book published, it is refreshing to see honest emotion from other writers. Writing is like having a baby, and rejection is like someone telling you that your baby is ugly. It just plain hurts. Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted all the time, but it came to mind as I read this post. Please keep being transparent–it helps the rest of us be able to learn from you. Thank you!

  7. Kaye

    You are a gifted writer, p.e.r.i.o.d.
    I love you and I am praying for you.
    Sent you a little something via UPS today. I can see your smile already, when you read my VERY short note, telling you what I was singing when I packaged it:) (even though I cannot sing:)!!!
    Love you…..hugs,
    Matthew 21:22

  8. laura

    i have every single one of your books and i love every single one of them. AND i see, hear, and feel Jesus thru you…so you keep on keeping on my friend! love you!

  9. Bill Brown

    So Marla, you’ve got like a kazillion people who read your blog. Ever think that maybe Jesus is using you with this medium instead of or in addition to a book. In His time girl, in His time.

  10. Jackie

    Sweet Marla, My heart aches as I read your “painful truth”. I have been praying for you but with no idea you were hurting.

    You are so much more than a talented writer. God has gifted you to be a remarkable communicator – in your writing, your speaking, your laugh and your hug. Maybe God imagines something much more impactful for you than can be captured on a printed page.

    Praying you are comforted by the love of God and your friends/family and that God will delight you with His big plan. Love you!

  11. jeremy reger

    Well, I have to say I second and third her comment about seeing Jesus when I look at anything you have done! My wife and I often talk about how amazing it is that God is using you guys so fully and How we can make sure we are doing the same. If I could buy 10 Million of your books I would!

    You guys are awesome, Your an amazing author and I know that God is using you!

    prayers keep coming!

  12. Leigh

    Oh, friend. I can only offer you this encouragement: your words in this space have done a mighty work in me. God is using you, maybe not in the way you want or envisioned, but it’s happening just the same. I’ll be praying for you.

  13. Candice

    Thank you for sharing! It is an encouragement to me that I should start sharing with friends more too when I have these same feelings.

  14. Jennifer

    Marla, you can glorify God even in the snotty moments. Your writing is real and honest, and I will read it forever! Don’t give up on your dreams, line them up with God’s. You will continue to do great things!!

  15. Oliver

    I have been dreaming of writing a book for years, but God has not seen fit to open the door to that dream… yet. What I have been reading though (which I hope is taken as an encouragement) is that book publishing has changed. It isn’t good enough to sell the idea to a publisher and hope that the publisher markets it well. From what I have been hearing publishing has become a process of building your own following (through blogs or other social media) then using your own marketing vectors, largely market your own book. So be encouraged! Start at the bottom, work hard, and trust nobody but God to bring the sales (or more importantly, the readership – writing is very much a ministry).

  16. Laura

    I love your honesty and your heart. While I tremendously respect and look up to your writing ability, what I admire most about you is your raw and real pursuit of Jesus and His Kingdom. You, my new friend, are a world-changer.

  17. Kim Webb

    Tears while reading this, I am in that same place. Not about writing about His purpose for my life. Thanks for Truth that I needed to hear. Love ya!

  18. Sharon W

    I’m glad you told us the whole story (or most of it anyways). I saw your Tweet about needing prayer yesterday and here I was assuming it had to do with homeschooling!!! I hope that part of the day went well because that’s what I was praying about for you lol! While you may not have had a book “published” in three years, you did recently write a wonderful ebook. And I can’t wait to read the next one.

  19. jess

    i have a 50% off coupon for capital cleaners for that poor comforter of yours if you want it. 😉 kidding.

    It sounds very similar to emotions that women experience in the whole pregnancy/no pregnancy/friends getting pregnant/etc realm.

    is it at all feasible to write under a different name…you know…like maybe Marla Twain? and then they couldn’t hold the other books over your head. I don’t like how previous books can be a strike against you. I mean, if people based cake purchases on my FIRST cakes, I would never ever ever have any customers. People change & emerge & get better at their skills (writing, cake-ing, crafting, whatever it may be.) and I don’t understand why the “I love your writing” can’t just stop there without the “but…you’re other books.” but, what do I know.

    listen, what I DO KNOW is that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, what the Lord has in store for those who LOVE Him.” And you love Him, so you’re good!

  20. Cheryl Pickett

    One thing I can say that hopefully will comfort you a little is that the publishing industry has changed so so much in just a couple of years. Traditional deals exist yes, but they are getting far more scarce. Not getting one basically means you don’t fit their business model. It means nothing about your heart for the subject, and often, as a few have noted, little or nothing about your writing ability.

    Also, remember, publishers also ask their authors to do most if not all the promotion. They’ll help some, but unless you are a big name, that help doesn’t last too long in many cases.

    You know I independently published both of my books. My thought would be not to ask God to take your dream away, but ask how He wants you to manifest it, what shape He wants it to take. Maybe it will be an ebook, maybe an independently published print book or both. He may not be saying no to your books, but to those who may not steward them and nurture them the way you can as the author who births them.

    You have more to say and I believe you’ll find the right way to say it.

    Extra helpings of peace to you today.

  21. Shannon Wheeler

    God has had a lot of work to do in my life teaching me to keep letting go of my dreams 100%, like you mentioned. It’s a struggle for me, and I can feel myself with clenched fists around the remnants some days. Especially for me with adoptions that haven’t worked as I had hoped. So I understand the snot-crying and also the sincere desire to really let go and only cling to dreams that God has for my life. I’m praying for you and admire your honesty. I think we all struggle with this, and it’s an encouragment to know I’m not alone!

  22. Claudia

    I had to smile as I read this post…I have been in that place so many times, different reasons but definitely there. God is using you so mightily and I know He will continue to do so!!!

  23. Gail

    I love your non-conventional-wisdom honesty. I think offering our dreams to God is one of the hardest acts of obedient submission. He will bless that. I don’t know how He will bless it, but I know in His infinitely good way, He will bring His will, His way, His glory out of your humbling yourself. Much love, sweet friend.

  24. Keri

    Wow. I do love you more and more and more.

    I’m just going to say this. At least you aren’t the person who sees the success of those around them, feels envious, and then lets it cripple you so you don’t even try anymore. You aren’t that person. You know that person, but it’s not you. You persevere, press on, and look for God’s purpose for you outside of your own expectations. That’s who you are and I, for one, think you are amazing.

    Love you!

  25. Danielle

    Oh what a wrenching hurt it is to let go. Seriously, I could have written this post a year ago, except about infertility in a church that reproduces like rabbits and getting baby shower invitations every week. God is so good to rip open our hearts for the joy of what he has for us. It’s the ripping that we hate, and once we have the joy we easily forget the hurt that was part of the journey.

    On a side note, I can’t wait to finish the adoption book I’m reading now so I can read Blushing Bride then pass it on to my sweet friend who is getting married soon. Your writing on this blog has blessed me more than you will ever know, so I can’t wait to see what your books have to share with me.

  26. Ruth Chowdhury

    Thanks for raw honesty. We need more of that in our lives. Praying for you! Looking forward to the ebook, if you choose to go that route. 🙂

  27. Tara

    Don’t let go Marla! I think you’ve confirmed for me why I’d be too chicken to write a book … rejection of ANY variety is no fun. I hope that you are published very soon!


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