Monday, April 23, 2012

Throttle the Urge to Kill

I am delighted to host some authors on my blog periodically over the next few weeks. I have some commitments that will keep me from reviewing books at my normal pace, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce you to some newer, as well as some more established, authors that I've come into contact with through ACFW. Some of them will be sharing about their writing journey and the writing process, so if you are feeling the "hankering" to write, as we say in the South, you will find these to be encouraging and instructive. And if you simply enjoy reading, a peek behind the scenes and into the mind of an author will just enhance your experience!

Today I welcome Ada Brownell, who shares about handling the sting of criticism. While her focus is on what she's learned from critiques and rejections of her writing projects, the principles certainly apply to any types of criticism.

Throttle the Urge to Kill
By Ada Brownell

A Sunday or two ago our pastor preached a sermon from an different angle. I’ve heard many sermons on dousing a critical spirit and watching my tongue, but I can’t remember a pastor ever teaching how to accept criticism.

He’s doing a series on Hebrews 11 and the verse of the day was, “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain. By faith he was commended as a righteous man when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”

Although it’s not written in this passage, our pastor indicated we should pay attention to what appears to be behind the story that first appears in Genesis 4. The young men made a sacrifice, probably because God instructed the first family to do so. Sacrifice meant shedding of blood. We learn God said without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. If our just God rejected Cain’s vegetables, evidence shows the young man didn’t obey the Heavenly Father.

No matter how proud Cain was of his crop, it wasn’t according to the guidelines.

Cain’s reaction to God’s rejection was much worse than any writer who thought he had the perfect novel. The youth took his anger out on his brother and killed him. That’s like one of us killing a successful novelist because our book was rejected.

Many Bible characters experienced rejection and criticism. David had to run for his life from King Saul. Moses had to keep submitting his request to Pharaoh, although he was rejected on his first tries. Joseph was rejected by his brothers and severely criticized. The Apostle Paul was rejected at first by other Christians, and Jesus was not only was badgered with skepticism by the Pharisees, the Jews turned their backs on Him and crucified Him.

How should writers react to rejection? I hope not with the anger of Cain.

We should be gentle giving critiques, but ferocious about keeping our pride in check when we receive a critical review of our work.

In an interview on Faithwriters Blog by Joanne Sher, Philip Yancey said, “If you want to improve your writing 1) read voraciously from writers who can teach about style and content and 2) Hope for friends who will edit with a scowl. Most people want you to feel good so they give you compliments about your writing and that doesn’t help at all (except emotionally). Really, you need some grouches to edit your work.”

Yancey is a best-selling author of many books including, What Good is God? and Prayer: Does it Make a Difference?

I’ve learned much from critiquers and not following guidelines. The first sharp words about my creations always hurts a little, but I won’t allow the wound to my ego to continue to bleed or fester. I let it heal and go on so it won’t kill my desire to fulfill my calling, and I’ve found success.

© Ada Brownell

Ada Brownell, a retired newspaper reporter is author of two books, chapters in five books, and 275 articles and stories in Christian publications. Her latest book is Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal.

Purchase on Amazon: Paperback or for Kindle

Ada's Blog: Ink From An Earthen Vessel

Disclaimer: I have not read Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal and therefore do not have an opinion on it. The views expressed in this guest post are those of the author, Ada Brownell, and may or may not reflect the views of Mocha with Linda.


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1 comment:

Cindy said...

As a fellow book reviewer, I'm always happy to discover new authors. These books sound great. Thanks for posting about them!