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Finding Acceptance in a Tough Writing Industry

By Emily Conrad

When responses to my debut novel started to come in from my launch team, a friend asked if the positive feedback encouraged me.

Though, yes, the praise was a momentary boost, and no, I don’t want to consider what might’ve happened in my heart if the initial response had been the opposite, I had to confess that the good things people said didn’t truly bolster my confidence.

“I’m pretty hard on myself, I guess,” I said.

That brought a wry chuckle from my friend. “Oh, so you’ve noticed.”

Yes and no. I tend to believe I’m being realistic.

I’ve gotten enough critiques, rejections, and low contest scores to know my writing is neither perfect nor universally appealing—no matter how much praise comes in. But oh, how I long for it to be.

Those of us who crave acceptance hear criticism loudly. Often, too much so.

We can treat the symptom by limiting negative feedback. Personally, though I worked with critique partners, considered the feedback of judges, and worked with my editor prior to publication, I chose not to read reviews of my book after it came out.

Still, the underlying problem remains.

As a human and as a writer, I have a great need for acceptance that forms a deep chasm in front of me.

No opinion of my work, however negative, is responsible for carving that canyon in my heart.

No opinion of my work, however positive, is going to touch that void, much less fill it.

But long before I wrote a book and started thinking about acceptance and rejection, Jesus saw me.

He saw the chasm into which I would throw the positive words any human might gift me. He saw my fleeting, soon disappointed hope that given enough of those words, the chasm would fill.

He saw how I’d watch the negative words fall into the black abyss, hoping to at least learn the depth of the problem.

He knew the futility of these efforts, and He offers a better way to me, and to you.

John 2:24-25 tells us Jesus didn’t entrust himself to people. And how good that He didn’t! One day, they cheered for Him. Another, they called for his death.

He didn’t look to human responses to validate Himself or His mission, and likewise, human responses cannot validate us or our efforts.

This chasm, this craving for acceptance is so deep and wide, only God can fill it, and only the cross can bridge it.

God loves me. Because I am in Jesus, there’s no condemnation against me. Talk about a five-star review!

The needs revealed in me by the process of publication are not an order to try harder, work longer, or call it quits for a less vulnerable profession. The needs revealed in me are, as they’ve always been, an opportunity to let Christ fill my emptiness to the very brim with His love until that love spills over to others.

In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prays that we would “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you will be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (NET)

Did you catch it? Filled up.

We sometimes fall into thinking that next thing is going to fill the acceptance void. But the moment we turn from finding ALL of our worth in Christ, we pull the plug at the bottom of the chasm. God’s love for us doesn’t lessen, but our understanding of it drains right out, and no amount of human acceptance is going to fill us back up.

Only Jesus can touch this need, and His hand is already outstretched, offering healing, hope, and fulfillment.

The needs revealed in me by the #writinglife are not an order to try harder, work longer, or call it quits for a less vulnerable profession. @emilyrconrad #ACFWBlogs Click To Tweet

Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys coffee. It’s no coincidence her debut novel, Justice, is set mostly in a coffee shop! She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

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14 Responses to Finding Acceptance in a Tough Writing Industry

  1. Emily Conrad says:

    So excited to be a guest here today! I pray this post encourages someone who needs to read it as much as I needed to write it.

  2. Wow. “Those who crave acceptance hear criticism loudly.” How true is that?! Beautiful post, Emily. Thank you for this reminder.

  3. Samantha says:

    A timely reminder for me and one I hope I never forget. So much wisdom in this post–thank you. 🙂

  4. Katie Powner says:

    Great post, Emily. I’m so glad we don’t stand or fall on man’s acceptance, but on God’s.

  5. JPC Allen says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post. I hear criticism too loudly as well.

  6. Emily Conrad says:

    So glad you stopped by, Rachel! I wrote that line based on personal experience. May we never hear any voice louder than the voice of our Savior!

    Samantha, you are very welcome! May knowledge of God’s love for you bolster you whenever discouragement comes calling!

    Amen, Katie! So very well put! Thanks for reading!

    Hi, JPC! I suspect we’re in very good company. So grateful that Jesus doesn’t leave us to our own devices as we cope with criticism and discern what feedback to apply and what to leave behind. He’s so good to us! Thanks for commenting!

  7. Thank you for your encouragement, Emily. May we always look to God for our approval and not man. A hard lesson when we live in a social media world. If the Spirit say “Amen,” so should we.

    Congratulations on your debut. I enjoyed “Justice” and I heard an “Amen.”

  8. Emily Conrad says:

    Thank you, Barb, for all the encouragement you’ve poured into my life and my writing! Yes, may we keep our eyes on Jesus and listen for the Spirit!

  9. Kelly says:

    Wow, so true! It’s so hard to shut off the negative voices in our heads. Way easier to believe at times. It’s a conscious choice to believe the truth of God’s word and how He sees us and as well as our writing.

  10. Emily Conrad says:

    You make a great point that we have a choice. May we always choose to believe God!

  11. Mary Felkins says:

    I just really love all of this, Emily but particularly the verse you shared…

    John 2:24-25 tells us Jesus didn’t entrust himself to people. And how good that He didn’t! One day, they cheered for Him. Another, they called for his death.

    He gets it all. He’s suffered it all. He loves us in full.
    Great encouragement today!

  12. Pearl Allard says:

    Emily, this was SO encouraging. Thank you so much for the reminder (I need them often!) that it’s God’s activity that secures our identity which can’t be improved upon on our best days or eroded by our worst. Justice is a page-turner! I read it in just a few days (quick for me). I can’t wait to see what you write next! But I’m encouraged that you’re committed to God’s pace. May He continue to bless you! Hugs!!

  13. Emily Conrad says:

    That verse really snagged my attention, Mary. It’s such an important truth for those who, like me, struggle sometimes with people-pleasing. I love your take on it, that Jesus experienced even that. He gets it all, and in Him we have our loving and perfect Advocate and Savior!

    I need this reminder a lot, too, Pearl 🙂 And thank you for your kind words about Justice. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  14. Lovely post as usual Emily
    PamT