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Do What You Can With What You Have

Ever feel like you’re less than? Like there’s something you really want to try, but you’re convinced that you could never be skilled enough or talented enough to make it worthwhile?

And if one more person tells you, “There’s always somebody better than you, and there’s always somebody worse than you,” you are going to scream.

Because you’ve already repeated that mantra to yourself a hundred times.

A few months back I wrote about feeling that I’m not made for novel-writing because I can’t come up with stories with super-interesting plot twists. How the suspense and thriller writers do it is beyond me. Even straight-on formula romance writers often engage their characters in an intriguing settings and interesting events that have me scratching my head and doubting my creative ability to write fiction.

Taking it back even further: I used to want to sing like Julie Andrews or Barbara Streisand (I’ve mentioned that in a blog post, too).

I’d finally gotten over myself enough to go on and write another novel, and now I am writing the second book in the series. But while writing the first book, every once in a while I would look at my plot and think, “Gee, this isn’t exactly a page-turner.”

Neither was it as humorous as I’d intended it to be (although it’s probably the most light-hearted novel I’ve written yet). The novel I’m working on now is even less so.

What’s the deal?

And why, at age forty-seven and having read more than my share of self-help and motivational books, and having declared myself on my blog as having been cured from this self-confidence issue, do I continue to struggle with not being My Ideal Self?

Once again, God speaks to me through a book

I just got done reading the novel Home by Ginny Yttrup. It’s published by Barbour Publishing. Ever heard of them? Yeah, being a Christian publishing house, it’s not the biggest, but any avid reader of inspirational fiction and/or Christian non-fiction will have heard of them.

The characters are real. So is the story. No FBI agents saving a kidnapped woman, no fugitives running from Interpol, no family feuds. Just real people, dealing with issues that any of us might have.

Not a page-turner by any means. Well, except one page, the way Ginny ends one of the chapters. But for the most part, the plot is nothing that makes your heart pound in anticipation and forget to eat because you have to finish the book today.

Yet…I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Though it’s down-to-earth and simple, I found it worth reading. Actually, it blessed me in a personal way, helped me appreciate my marriage (and my husband) more.

And did I mention that this is not an Indie novel, but one published by a traditional publishing house?

The book blessed me in a personal way, yes, but God also used it to speak to my professional life. My author life.

As a matter of fact, He led me to reread the book. Right away.

Ask J how often I reread a book.

Hardly ever.

Once I’ve read a book, I’m done. Hand me the next one! I don’t know if I’ll ever figure out J’s desire to reread the same book dozens of times (no exaggeration).

But I re-read it. And this time around, I realized something.

The second time’s the charm

Actually, I realized several things.

  • A great story doesn’t have to be filled with barely-believable events and superhero-like protagonists.
  • Many (perhaps most?) readers appreciate a serious story as much as they enjoy a humorous one.
  • I can write a story like this – a story, that, a-HEM, a literary agent or traditional publisher might accept.
  • However humorous I can make blog posts or non-fiction books, my novels tend to take on a serious tone.
  • That’s okay, because many (most?) readers appreciate a serious novel.
  • Therefore, why am I trying to be someone I’m not?

Bringing the message home (no pun intended)

There are a lot of “gurus” on the Internet, trying to coerce into buying courses or e-books so that you can be just like them. You will lose weight like they did. You will make money with a blog like they do. You will retire from your day job by flipping websites like they did. You will learn how to play the guitar like Eddie Van Halen. Like, of course, they did.

Et cetera.

You may have a passion for writing, for entrepreneurship, for health, for music, for art, for crafting jewelry, for teaching, for any number of things. And you know you have developed your skills and knowledge to a level somewhere above beginner.

And you want to put yourself and your skills and talent out there to the world in some form or fashion.

You have two choices. You can do what you can with what you have. And start going somewhere.

And feel fulfilled – happy, even.

Or you can look at the gurus, realize that you will never be able to achieve exactly what they have achieved, and throw in the towel.

Which are you going to choose?

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