My name is Priscilla J. Krahn, and I am a published author. What took me from being a wannabe writer to a published author was something none of us like. Discouragement.
There’s nothing like wanting to do something, and being told you won’t ever be able to do it. Especially when the person telling you that you can’t is a big brother who is always right.
When I was eleven years old, I knew I wanted to be an author. I had dozens of notebooks filled with stories, enough ambition to ‘fill a book’, and about as much experience in the writing world as a goldfish has on land. I had dreams, but that’s all they were. Dreams. Dreams that would never come true. Dreams that I could work hard for all my life, and never achieve. Once, when I was talking about how I was going to become a published author someday, one of my big brothers looked at me and said, “Cilla, you are never going to become an author.”
I straightened my shoulders and glared at him. “Of course I am!”
He shook his head, a smirk on his face. “You won’t. And if you do, I’ll personally help you pay for your first book shipment.”
I grabbed a piece of paper and shoved it towards him. “I want that in writing!”
He laughed at me, but he wrote it down, and signed it. I locked that paper in Dad’s safe and dreamed of the day when I could bring it out again. My brother’s doubt and ridicule drove me to try like never before.
Fast-forward a few years, and I was still a dreamer. I still had my notebooks full of ideas, but I had been introduced to the One Year Adventure Novel, and felt like I was learning things that would turn me into a published author. I lurked on the OYAN Forum, I wrote as much as I could, and I kept dreaming. Yet despite the improvement in my writing, I was still lacking. I felt that my first novel had great potential, yet somehow, it seemed like something was missing. It had the drama, the cliffhangers, enough emotional conflict to make readers laugh and cry, but something was still missing.
I became discouraged again. Not because someone was telling me I was failing, but because I knew I was failing. Through this time that God allowed me to be discouraged with my writing—to the point that I wanted to quit altogether—He showed me how unsatisfied I would be with my writing if I kept on how I was going. I was writing exciting, dramatic novels that would entertain, but that wouldn’t impact. I knew that it wasn’t enough. I knew that if I was going to spend the rest of my life writing novels that just entertained, I wasn’t going to be happy. I had to impact people. That’s when I found out how hard it is to put a message into writing.
Think about it, there are millions of ‘good’ books out there that you can read, enjoy, and finish without having learned anything. I wanted more than that. I wanted to create characters that people couldn’t come in contact with without being changed. Characters that go through the same struggles that the reader goes through. Characters that understand what it is to feel like a failure, to feel alone, and discouraged.
As I fought the discouragement that I was struggling with, I started putting my feelings of discouragement into one of my characters. What happened? My characters became more real, I faced my struggles, and put my struggles into my characters. When I look back at my first series of books, I see in the characters’ lives the lessons that God was teaching me.
That’s when my writing began to mean something. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to get that first letter from a reader, telling me how she had been challenged in her life after seeing the characters’ struggles and growing faith.
Six years after I locked that paper in my dad’s safe, my brother helped pay for my first book shipment, and I stamped the paper ‘Paid in Full,’ and returned it to him.
I didn’t feel the accomplishment from being published that I thought I would, but I did feel a deep satisfaction in knowing that I was sharing real life problems and solutions as my characters met Christ and His love throughout the pages.
Discouragement made me keep writing. Discouragement helped me see the things I needed to change to make my books more impacting. Discouragement is . . . well, it’s discouraging. The question is, what do you do with it? When people tell you that your dreams can’t be accomplished, how do you respond? Do you give up, or do you keep going? Do you allow the discouragement to push you forward, or hold you back? When the wind gets taken out of your sails, do you wait in fatalism and defeat for more wind, or do you get out the paddle and start rowing, through the frustration, sweat, and tears? What you do with discouragement will define how successful you become as a writer.
Have you ever turned a discouragement into a source of motivation for your writing?
Priscilla J. Krahn graduated from Krahn Homeschool in 2015 and currently resides on the family farm in northern Minnesota. She is the author of seven books, including Mission of a Lifetime, published by Ambassador International, and The Adventures of Amy series. In addition to helping on the family farm and writing books, Priscilla blogs at www.priscillajkrahn.com and enjoys coffee drinks and the opportunity to share her faith with others.
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