The Gift of Failure (and Free Books!)

Think of it like being in high school: you start as a Freshman, then advance to a Sophomore, then Junior. After your Senior year, you graduate with a published novel!

As a new author, I received this advice regarding a well-known novel-writing program. At the time, it really excited me – I was already a year into my writing journey, so I fully expected to have a published book in three years!

That was ten years ago.

You read that correctly. I first heard about the four-year plan a decade ago, but it wasn’t until this year that I signed my first publishing contract. I honestly believed that I was learning and incorporating everything that the experts were telling me to do, but nothing earned me a contract.

Beth Olsson talked a lot about this earlier this month when she answered the question, “When are you getting published?” There are so many factors that contribute to a delayed book contract. For starters, I’m a painfully slow writer (it takes forever for me to finish that first draft), so I don’t finish manuscripts as quickly as other writers. I also exhibit many traits of being ADD, so it’s hard for me to create my own schedule and stick to it; more often than not, I waste so much time that I don’t have time for everything and novel writing gets pushed off the to-do list.

Honestly, though, I think the biggest reason was God.

I don’t often talk about my faith on my blogs or social media. It’s not because I’m embarrassed by it – I’m unashamedly devoted to my Christian faith and my dependence on God – but I’ve always tried to focus on good writing/editing/marketing tips, and those don’t change whether you’re a Christian author or an atheist author. Good writing is good writing.

What motivates a writer, however, varies drastically, and my motivation centers completely on my faith.

I wrote my first novel eleven years ago as a way to help me cope with my husband’s cancer (don’t worry – he’s healthy and cancer-free now). I needed an outlet. I found it in fiction writing. It started out as a personal challenge:

Can I write a full-length novel?
Can I get it published?

The answers were yes and no, but I wanted to see what it would take to turn that no into a yes. As I studied, I learned that it would take a lot of hard work and sacrifice. I wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice without praying first, so I asked God if I should keep writing.

I don’t remember the exact answer or specific directions, but I knew that I needed to keep going. As an avid reader and a college graduate with a degree in English, I thought I’d see my book in print within a couple of years, so I proudly set upon my journey. I couldn’t wait to share my brilliance with others.

But then a couple of years turned into a few years that turned into several years. I watched my friends sign book contracts and win book awards. I read books that included all of the errors that I’d been taught to avoid. Each year my anger and frustration grew. My self-doubt increased.

What was happening?

I tried to quit, explaining to God how I was struggling. I told Him how embarrassed I was by my failures. He couldn’t have possibly called me to something so difficult that yielded zero results.

Except He did.

I cried. I hurt. I despaired. I wanted to quit! Clearly, I wasn’t good enough to publish a book.

But God never actually called me to publish a book, He called me to write and to learn. As I did both, He stripped away my pride. Poured out His grace. Pointed out so many of my misconceptions about Him and replaced those misunderstandings with His truths. My relationship with him strengthened, my marriage improved, and I started walking in peace when I used to walk in anxiety or anger.

For me, it was never about getting published. It was about being obedient to God and letting Him do the work that He wanted to do in me. If I’d know everything that would happen along the way, I don’t honestly know that I would have started on this journey. In hindsight, however, I’m so glad that I did. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if I hadn’t followed that path.

And even thought it wasn’t the goal of my journey, this year I signed my first book contract. I thought I’d feel like I’d arrived. Instead, it feels like I’ve received a surprise present – I would have survived if I’d neve received it, but I’m so thankful for the gift, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Next week, September 15-21, I’m celebrating my debut novel with all kinds of giveaways and fun things (including free copies of my book!). Just like and follow my Facebook page to participate.

Has God ever called you to something that didn’t work out the way you’d expected? Are you in that season now?

Karin Beery – Writer. Editor. Novelist. Karin writes contemporary and speculative fiction with a healthy dose of romance. Represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at WordWise Media, Karin is a newly-signed author with Elk Lake Publishing. Her debut novel, Summer Plans and Other Disasters, releases September 15, 2018.

When she’s not writing fiction, she’s editing or writing business copy through her business Write Now Editing & Copywriting Services. And when she’s not doing either of those, she teaches Substantive Editing for Fiction and Romance Editing through the PEN Institute. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at her website, www.karinbeery.com.

Click here to sign up for her monthly newsletter and receive the FREE, unpublished prologue to SUMMER PLANS AND OTHER DISASTERS!

By |2018-09-09T23:19:24+00:00September 11th, 2018|book giveaway, Karin Beery|3 Comments

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3 Comments

  1. KIm Laliberte September 15, 2018 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Karin, Having just met you at another author’s online party, I am thrilled to support your writing journey. I have had a similar
    “failure” journey which my book (coming out 10/15/18) chronicles. Not fiction, but painfully real. I painfully relate to this blog entry and am so blessed with people are real and authentic about their faith, as you are. Someone recently asked me about my book, “Is this a faith-book?” I loved that phrase. It opened a whole new way of seeing and explaining. So thankful for you sharing your journey with us all!

  2. Karin Beery September 19, 2018 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    You’re welcome, and congratulations! There really is more to this journey than people understand — it’s always nice to have people around you who “get it.”

  3. Austin Ryan September 19, 2018 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Has God ever called me to something that didn’t work out the way you’d expected? That looks like a complete failure to all who come across my story?
    Oh yes. Yes, He has.
    I’m going to be all mysterious here and not expand on the circumstances but God never promised to fulfill my expectations, He never handed out five-year plans or quarterly progress reports. All He asked for was obedience, to step out in Faith. So, whether in writing or in life, I think it’s pretty much always about “letting Him work in us” and never about “the dream”. Thanks for a great post, Karin! <3

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