Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Surrendering Your Dream by Jennifer Uhlarik

What does “success” look like to you? Maybe you’ve mapped out each step, and nothing short of that vision will do. It’s never wrong to dream, but let me share an important lesson I learned along the way.

I was twelve when the writing bug bit. I began cranking out stories with every spare moment while developing my vision of “success”—a picture that started with getting published by a top-tier publisher and grew more grandiose from there. It would take hard work, but the effort would eventually pay off.

 So I thought.

 After earning my B.A. in writing, I began shopping my first novel. My first batch of submissions quickly ended in rejections. Following a second batch of rejections, I re-edited the novel and tried again. More rejections. Each little heartbreak brought clarity. My writing wasn’t ready yet. Time to reassess.

Only I didn’t. Another storm hit my life—the divorce I never wanted. Instead of honing my skills into something worthy of a top-tier publisher, I submitted to what I discovered were fly-by-night eBook publishers during the infancy of the eBook revolution. I published a few stories, but with little time, energy, or money to promote, the books didn’t sell. Matters grew worse when, a year after opening, these publishers secretly closed up shop and made off with any earnings I did have.

I’d worked my original dream with no success. Plan B was in shambles. My strivings had left me tired and wounded, so I shifted my focus to survival rather than writing.

It was the best thing that could’ve happened!

Fast-forward to 2007. I married a wonderful man who afforded me the opportunity to write full time again. I returned home more humble, willing to surrender my grandiose plan for God’s direction. Rather than clinging to my dream, I asked God to orchestrate my journey.

Once I surrendered, I discovered that “success” wasn’t some elusive point in the distance. It was finding joy in the process. Instead of skyrocketing my career into the stratosphere, God took me on a leisurely drive in the country with plenty of picnics along the way.

Have I been published with a top-tier publisher? Not yet. Sometimes I still chafe at that, but God’s plan has led me in the most wonderful directions. One week ago, I signed my twelfth publishing contract, all with delightful mid-range or small presses I’ve loved working with. I’ve published mostly 20,000-word novellas, rather than the 100,000-word novels I once planned. Writing “short” has taught me more about story-crafting than all my college courses combined. And in a truly unexpected turn, God made me the managing editor of Trailblazer Western Fiction, I’m sure to remind me that this journey isn’t all about me but whom I can help along the way.

If I’d never surrendered my dream for God’s, I’d probably still be striving for some unattainable idea of success. Instead, God and I celebrate small victories often, and success comes in the most unpredictable ways.

So I leave you with this—do you need to surrender your dream to find true success?

Do you need to surrender your dream to find true success? via @JenniferUhlarik #SeriouslyWrite #writingtips


Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse”
book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

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  1. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! As a "control freak," I've had to constantly surrender my writing to the Lord. I work as hard as I can - doing my part - to write the best stories I can, promote as much as I can, etc. But, in the end, I still need to give it to him to do as he sees fit. Sometimes surrendering is difficult, but it can also be freeing!

    1. You are sooo right, Dawn. It's not easy, but the freedom that comes is amazing! And it is a constant process for me as well, though the first time was the hardest. ;) Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. So well said, Jennifer. Lots of similarities and conclusions in our paths. God bless you on the journey!

    1. Thanks, Naomi! And God bless you on your journey as well! ;)

  3. I can so relate to the piles of rejections. Thanks for sharing your life lesson. Writers need to be reminded who is in control and surrendering to Him always brings the best for us.

    1. Amen, Cindy. Surrender does bring the best for us--but it can be so hard to do! ;)

  4. The dream never goes quite the way we'd imagined it, does it! The Lord is in control of the journey, and we soon learn that he has other lessons more important for us to learn. He's far more interested in our character, our growth, and our intimacy with him. That's far more important than our worldly "success"! Thanks for sharing your story. It resonates.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by--and especially for letting me know this resonated with you, Melinda. It wasn't necessarily an easy lesson, but so worth it! ;)


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