Tuesday, April 2, 2019

You've Got Talent - Don't Bury It! by Emily Conrad

The novel intimidated me, so I did the mature thing and put off reading it.

I knew from the cover alone that the story followed a Mary-like character through an assault and into an unplanned pregnancy that costs her dearly. You could describe my debut novel Justice the same way. 

The only difference I knew of between this other novel and Justice was the author. I’m a little-known writer just starting out in her career. This other book, The Atonement Child, is by a legend of Christian fiction: Francine Rivers.

Obviously, she would’ve done a better job with the subject matter than me. People who read Justice would think I was writing a knock-off of this earlier story—though I hadn’t been aware of The Atonement Child until after Justice was written.

I’ve heard other aspiring authors lament bigger names publishing a book similar to their own work-in-progress, so I know I’m not the only one intimidated by the competition.

Perhaps others then, too, have felt insecure and intimidated in other areas of their writing life. For example, some of the women I now count my closer writing friends also intimidated me at first.

They had larger platforms, fancy agents, multiple books published, and witty social media presences. What could I offer them by way of friendship? But then, I started interacting with them and discovered that we’ve each been granted specific talents and strengths. It turns out, those talents and strengths meld well together.

So, I’m learning that everyone has something to offer—myself included.

When we hang back in fear, we’re missing an opportunity to cheer on someone else’s strengths and to learn about and use what we have to offer.

Everyone misses out when one of us buries our talent out of insecurity.

Just imagine what could’ve happened if, before I’d found a publisher, I’d learned of The Atonement Child and stopped in my tracks, never reading it and never moving forward with the story on my heart.

That would be acting like the servant in the Parable of the Talents who buried the talent he’d been given instead of investing it.

I feel for that servant. Perhaps he looked at the guy with the five talents, trading away and making a profit, and wondered wonder how he could ever possibly keep up.

I can’t! My master’s going to be so disappointed in me!

Playing the comparison game, he may have noticed he was only given one talent. My Master must have less faith in me. If even He knows I don’t measure up, what can I do but bury this talent? Surely it’s safer in the ground than in my hands.

The word “talent” means something different in modern language than it means in the Bible. I like how it carries over, and how loaded it is when I write about burying a talent.

But the original meaning is important. A talent was twenty years’ worth of wages. Imagine what you could do with that!

Well, that one servant did imagine, and he imagined getting himself in trouble. So, he buried the talent.

When he returns the talent to his master, the master isn’t pleased. He gives that investment to someone else, saying (and this is important, so don’t just skim it because you know the story):

"For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Matthew 25:29, NET

This seems harsh until I consider each of the servants should’ve fallen under the category of “one who has.” Despite the differences, they’d all been given a significant sum. Twenty years’ wages! 

What made a servant with twenty years’ wages “one who does not have”?

His fear-driven perspective. He bowed needlessly to intimidation.

We need to be careful, lest we do the same. Often, the difference between those who have and those who have not is not a matter of gifting or possessions, but rather a matter of our perspective.

Like the servants in the parable, we are all richly supplied to serve our Lord and Master. Yes, some will have larger audiences, but aspiring or published, indie or traditional, young or old, we’ve all been created with a purpose.

We've all got talent specific to our time, place, and audience. It’s up to us to not bury it.

I saw this again proved true when I gathered the courage to read The Atonement Child.

As I turned pages, the intimidation factor fell away. I saw I had built the story and its author into something larger than life. Rivers is still a master of Christian fiction. She still has a larger audience than me.

And yet, we both have our callings and our strengths and places in the market.

Francine Rivers is Francine Rivers. She has her style, her themes, her characters and plot twists. 

Emily Conrad, it turns out, is Emily Conrad. She’s different in style, themes, characters, and plot. 

There was no need for me to be intimidated. We’re different, and we’re each tasked with being faithful to our calling, however that looks.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are on this writing journey, you’ve got talent. Don’t bury it.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are on this #writing journey, you’ve got talent. Don’t bury it. via @emilyrconrad #SeriouslyWrite


                                          ✏️📖✏️📖✏️📖✏️📖

Emily Conrad writes Christian romance and a blog to encourage women of faith. Her debut novel, Justice, released from Pelican Book Group in 2018. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence Justice is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.
www.emilyconradauthor.com
facebook.com/emilyconradauthor
Instagram.com/emilyrconrad
Twitter.com/emilyrconrad
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Emily-Conrad-ebook/dp/B0792HGXQN/ 
Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/justice-emily-conrad/1127841580 

Justice
Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God's love and in each other?

23 comments:

  1. It reminds me of an art class where all the students are tasked with painting the same subject. The end result will look different for each of them and each will add a little something extra that makes it unique. Great reminder, Emily.

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    1. Yes, our personalities and experiences really do affect our work--no two creatives will do things exactly the same way! Thanks so much for stopping by, Sandra!

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  2. Love this for the same reasons you listed, Emily. Our books may be similar in subject, but our characters have their own personalities. This is also true for Bible stories. Several women were barren, but all reacted differently. And so do writers. Thank you for the reminder!

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    1. Oh, what a good point, Gail! I hadn't thought of how, at their core, some of the women in the Bible faced a similar trial but reacted differently. So glad you joined the conversation!

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  3. Great message, Emily. I appreciate your incorporation of Scripture and the reminder of the biblical meaning of a talent. I read a book by a well-established contemporary Christian romance author a number of years ago and realized it had, at its core, the same theme as one of my as-yet-unpublished novels (in a series). Oh, no! I wrote to her (she lives in my home state), and told her of the similarity (and what I considered my dilemma). She was gracious and told me there's basically only about six themes to go around in our genre. "You'll make the story your own, and no one will think anything of it." As it turned out, I ended up changing my story quite a bit, anyway, but I've never forgotten her words of wisdom. Blessings as you continue to write in your own unique style!

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    1. How wonderful that that author replied with such encouragement. I'm grateful to the more-established authors who've taken the time to help me along the way, too. Christian fiction can be such a supportive community! We really do spend a lot of time on similar themes, don't we? But it's all helpful, capable of speaking to different people in slightly different situations. Thanks so much for reading today!

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  4. "Surely it’s safer in the ground than in my hands." I really relate to this! At least if it's in the ground, I can't screw it up, right? But God knows what He's doing. Thanks, Emily!

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    1. That can be a tempting way of thinking, but yes, God knows what He's doing! Thanks for stopping by, Katie!

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  5. Great post! It's so easy to feel inadequate when we compare ourselves to others and feel we have nothing to offer. But, as you so powerfully pointed out, we've been given the gift of talent from our Father for a reason--to use it for His glory! Thanks for this reminder!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Jerusha! Comparison's a tough one. Grateful we can all encourage each other to use what God's given us.

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  6. Wow, I can relate, Emily. I was also so intimated by authors I admired. They were "them," and I was only "me." But, as I was given opportunities to not only meet them in person, but to also become their friend, I discovered that they're just people with their own insecurities. And they wanted to help me grown as a writer. What a fantastic blessing to understand that we're all in this writing gig together!

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    1. Amen! <3 It's so easy to put people on pedestals, but really, we're all in this together!

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  7. Emily, excellent post! I love the double use of talent. Like you, I always felt for the one servant. Unfortunately I think I could see myself in him.

    Now I'll try and be bolder, realizing that one talent is quite a gift.

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    1. I think a lot of us do see ourselves in that servant. But recognizing it is the first step to letting Christ change us so we can appreciate and use the talents He's given us! Thanks for reading!

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  8. I love your perspective, Emily! Thank you for this post.

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  9. My son texted me a few years back that someone had stolen my plot. What? I went into a panic and looked the book up on Amazon. It had a similar plot, but ended in tragedy. My book had a happily-ever-after. Boy, did I breathe a sigh of thankfulness.

    God gifts us all differently to bring stories to light. And I've heard, there are no new plot lines under Heaven.

    "Justice" was your voice and story given to the world. A unique gift.

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    1. Oh, man, I know that feeling! So glad you saw the differences so quickly. And thank you for the encouragement about Justice! I'm grateful I eventually learned what you wrote here--that God gifts us all differently.

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  10. I faced this exact scenario recently but it was the other author's debut novel. Though she was with a Big 5 publisher and the book was getting crazy good reviews. I called a more established writing friend, also with a big pub house, in a panic. Years of work down the drain, I thought. We talked it through and her message was that although the stories have some similar plot points, we will each bring our own voice to the story and the character's emotional and spiritual arcs will undoubtedly be as different as our life experiences. Good advice. I didn't trash the story.

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    1. Hooray for the writing community! I love how supportive authors can be of each other. Sometimes, we really need that dose of perspective. I'm glad you kept at it! Thanks for sharing this experience, too!

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  11. I have The Atonement Child AND Justice, Emily and you did a wonderful job! The storyline might be the same but the writing is amazing and unique in both books!

    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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    1. Thank you so much for this, Pam! I'm so grateful for readers who've made room for both The Atonement Child and Justice on their shelves.

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  12. Thanks for the encouragement! I'm a writer just starting out too, so I get it...and will try to remember to use my 'talent' for God and not be intimidated by others' successes. Good luck with your book!

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