by Cynthia Ruchti
Yesterday, we took a look at what it means to “turn pro” as a writer. These questions arose: How can we turn pro even before we’re published, before we’re a recognized entity in the writing world, before our books start showing up on the bestseller lists or the awards announcements? And how do we remain professional after those pinnacles?
We looked at how a professional approaches issues like Practice, Time Use, Relationships. Now let’s dig a little deeper into several other areas in which our professionalism shines through and helps mark us as serious writers.
Devotion: Very few pro athletes have successfully pulled off simultaneously playing two different sports-playing running back during football season, guard during basketball season. High school athletes might manage it. Amateur athletes may handle the rigors of more than one sport. But when they turn pro, tough choices have to be made. Can I consider myself a serious novelist and still coordinate VBS for a thousand kids? Can I write with a professional attitude and still lead six city-wide men’s Bible studies? The answer may be yes. But the person who thinks like a pro gives it serious consideration and doesn’t say yes because of desire alone. He or she waits to hear from God and evaluates each task in light of His leading. I was approached to be part of a team of novelists for a devotional project-His Grace is Sufficient…Decaf is Not (Summerside Press, release date Nov. 1, 2011). Five novelists were asked. One evaluated her situation and other commitments and after much prayer declined. The rest of us said yes because the Lord had not only given us the go-ahead in our schedules and family responsibilities but reminded us that the project fit with our individual passions to tell stories that glorified Him.
Passion: Pros are passionate about their assignment in life, their calling. And it shows. Non-professionals may be obsessed, but that’s not the same thing. A pro’s passion shows up in the positive way he or she talks about the profession, in the joy they experience at each level of accomplishment, in the drive to keep getting better, not settle for excuses, and not look for a “good enough” plateau rather than pressing on to excellence.
Always on Duty: When is a follower of Jesus Christ off duty? No, not even then. The same might be said of writers who treat their writing professionally. Never off duty. Always observing. Always learning. Always serving with their writing. King David is a poignant example. He was writer, worshiper, and warrior. When he considered himself off duty in any of those three areas, he got into trouble. When he lived full-on in all three, he not only succeeded but enjoyed God’s favor.
Forgetting and Remembering: Who are the pro football players who move us when they score touchdowns? The taunters? No. It’s the athlete who points to heaven and then drops to one knee to say “Thank You, Lord.” It’s the athlete who when interviewed talks about the other players who helped make his accomplishment possible. Just like pro writers. They set aside past failures to attend to today’s “game.” They remember past laurels only as a sweet affirmation and an impetus for the next assignment. They both remember and forget rejections—sobered by them but motivated to keep working, keep pressing on. They remember past awards but forget the lure of limelight so they can create something new that reflects the One they serve.
So, are you ready to turn pro? You may still have more expenses than income,
still have to keep your day job, but your professional attitude will mark you as a writer to watch…and read.
Cynthia Ruchti is the author of the 2011 Carol Award finalist They Almost Always Come Home (Abingdon Press), “The Hearts Harbor” in the award-winning A Door County Christmas novella collection (Barbour Publishing), His Grace is Sufficient…Decaf is Not devotional collection (Summerside Press), the spring 2012 release “Maybe Us” in Cedar Creek Seasons novella collection (Barbour Publishing), and 2013’s When the Morning Glory Blooms (Abingdon Press). Grateful for ACFW’s influence in her writing career, Cynthia served as president of ACFW in 2009-2010 and now serves as its Professional Relations Liaison.