Friday, April 15, 2016

Being an Imperfect Writer by Rondi Bauer Olson

Rondi Bauer Olson

Most of us probably struggle with our human imperfections. Author Rondi Bauer Olson shares one of her experiences, as well as encouragement for those days when we feel unworthy to be writers spreading the news about God and his love.  ~ Dawn

Being an Imperfect Writer

My phone rang right before my talk at the library was supposed to begin. I considered not answering, but it was work, and I was on call for information technologies. I imagined the worst, like the entire network being down. Instead, a co-worker, who often called about the simplest things, began a casual conversation. Nothing urgent. Nothing that couldn’t have waited until I was back at the office. My temperature rose. I let her have it.

Disconnecting, I walked around the bookcase to see the Teen Writer’s Group staring at me. They had heard every word. I was supposed to be giving them a talk about incorporating theme in their writing, using my manuscript and its theme of love and mercy as an example. I felt like such a hypocrite and failure.

Most writers don’t like the idea of being a public figure. In general we are an introverted bunch with a love of words, but we do want people to read what we’ve written, and if we’re fortunate, thousands or even tens of thousands of people will. Our influence doesn’t stop on the page. Readers follow us on social media, come to book signings to meet us in person, and sometimes write personal messages to us. They want to know the person behind the stories they love, but often we don’t feel so comfortable with ourselves. Worse, as Christian writers, we have an enemy who likes to remind us of our flaws, and tells us our shortcomings disqualify us for service. The characters in our books may have problems, but we’re supposed to be perfect.

If you’ve ever felt unworthy to write or be published, know you aren’t alone. Many of us look at ourselves and fear instead of glorifying God with our writing, we’ll bring reproach to his name. This fear, however, isn’t from our Heavenly Father. It is from our adversary, the accuser who wants us to give up in shame and discouragement. God’s message to us is quite different. He tells us his “strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9 KJV). Not that we are to be proud of our flaws, but personal struggles are part of the human condition.

Back at the library, I was tempted to pretend nothing had happened. Instead, I apologized to the group and acknowledged no one deserved to be treated the way I had just treated my co-worker. I excused myself, and in private called my co-worker back and apologized. When I did start my talk, I apologized again, and said that not only was my main character flawed, I was, too, and always in need of God’s love and mercy. That session could have been incredibly awkward. Fortunately, the kids gave me a second chance. Still, I probably learned more that day than they did. Our imperfections can help us illustrate God’s redemptive love, sometimes even better than the characters in our stories.

Have you ever been tempted to give up on writing or publication because of personal flaws or spiritual failings? What kept you going?

Rondi Bauer Olson is a reader, writer, and animal wrangler from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her debut novel for young adults, ALL THINGS NOW LIVING, was a finalist in the 2012 ACFW Genesis Contest and is scheduled for release this spring by Written World Communications.

You can learn more and connect with Rondi at these online sites:

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