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 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.
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Emily-Conrad-ebook/dp/B0792HGXQN/ 
Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/justice-emily-conrad/1127841580 

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?