Posted tagged ‘encouraging words’

A Good Rejection

December 19, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                December 19, 2018

                                  

Thursday afternoon one of the seventh grade teachers at the middle school I substitute teach and coach at exclaimed to me, “We love your book!” I sent her the book draft in a Word Document and she had been reading a chapter each night with her two kids, a fifth grader and a sixth grader.

I replied, “That’s great to hear, because I got the rejection letter from the publishing company two days ago.” Her face announced her surprise.

That afternoon the seventh grade counselor, who I had given the first seven hard copy  chapters to came to me and said, “I really like it!”

“That’s great to hear since I got the rejection letter two days ago.”

She frowned in disappointment.

The letter came from the managing editor who had given me his business card at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference last May and told me to send the book. It had taken them this long to get it to the top of the pile. (Publishing companies are piled high with submissions and only a trickle ever being published.)

I showed my rejection letter to my Starbucks friend, who is one of the writers and producers of Adventures In Odyssey. She read it and, in a matter of fact way, said, “As rejection letters go…this is a good rejection letter!”

“Huh???”

“It shows that they actually read it and he’s giving you three suggestions as to what to do to improve it and bring it to a point where it’s ready to be published.”

“Ohhh!” My self-esteem came back up from the basement. “Have you ever gotten a rejection letter?”

“Sure!” This writer/creator of the series, that my grandkids love to listen to, had also been rejected. Several other people have told me about J.K. Rowling, who got numerous turndowns before Harry Potter became a household name. 

Rejections are stings that can make us strive for something better. After I had submitted my book draft to the publisher I went back through and revised it again. Since the rejection letter I’ve gone through and done another revision. My dear friends, Ed and Diana Stucky, are going through it again…for the third time helping with the editing and their ideas. Ed has reached out to a couple of friends in the publishing world for advice and suggestions.

Rejections can sometimes show us who will be there to help us keep moving forward. They can make us stronger, more determined, and more focused. 

One of the suggestions from the managing editor of the publisher was to cut it down to between 80,000 and 100,000 words. I was at 114,000. After going through it again I’m down to 101,000 and figuring out what the next cut might be that will not effect the quality or flow of the story.

If nothing else comes from this writing I will always remember getting a phone call one night from my ten year old grandson.

“Granddad!”

“Yes, Jesse.”

“We like it! We like your book. Mommy just read the last chapter to us tonight, and we really like it!”

“Thank you, Jesse!” 

Three months later I got another call. 

“Granddad!”

“Yes, Jesse.”

“We finished your second book tonight and…we really liked it!”

And now they are waiting to read the third book, which I’m 20,000 words into, as I also continue to revise Book 1 and Book 2.

I may never get a letter from a publisher saying “We’d like to pursue this with you!”, but two late night phone calls are all the acceptance I really need!

Encouraging Encouragement

January 28, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         January 28, 2016

                            

A  parent of one of our basketball players paid our coaching staff a great compliment last night. He didn’t say it trying to get more game time minutes for his daughter, or because there was a lull in the conversation. He simply walked up to us as our practice was about to start and told us how much he appreciated the three of us as coaches.

Then he went on to say that his level of respect for us had risen even more as he has watched the actions and antics of some of the other coaches we’ve encountered this season. In other words, in his eyes we look even better as he has watched coaches of other teams relate to their players.

We thanked him for his words of encouragement. Although my Junior Varsity girls’ team has been successful in the final outcome of our games most of the time this season, it has been a challenging season in other ways. For example, having fifteen players on the team means the cutting up of the playing time in ways that communicate that each of them is valued. That’s a challenge because it breaks down to less than eleven minutes of playing time for each player, if they all play equally.

His words were timely and uplifting.

Each of us as coaches look forward to coming to practice each day, and spending time with our players. We seek to teach, explain, evaluate, analyze, improve player skills and game understanding…and encourage. This season our high school has been dealing with the death of a student known by everyone. In the midst of practice our varsity coach several times has gone to the side with a couple of girls who are struggling with the loss…dealing with the grief. It’s encouraging to have someone listen willingly to your sorrow.

This dad, whose daughter was impacted by the death, understood the extra role that we have coaches have taken on this season. Not counselors, but rather listeners of pain and confusion…and his words, once again encouraged us.

All of us desire encouragement, but encouraging encouragement is a concept that seldom occurs to us. It comes out in the New Testament. Paul wrote to the Christ-followers in Thessalonica and instructed them with the words “Therefore encourage each and build each other up…”, and then he finishes the sentence with the clarifier “…just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Encouragement gets noticed and remembered.

I would like to have met a man named Barnabas, who appears in the Book of Acts. Acts 4:36 tells us that his real name was Joseph, and that he was a Levite from Cyprus, but the apostles referred to him as Barnabas. It was his nickname, kind of like Smiley or Buck. His nickname meant “son of encouragement.”  When the apostles, and others, were with him they saw that being encouraging was what defined him. Add he traveled around with the Apostle Paul I’m sure his encouraging words were often the difference between Paul throwing in the towel or persevering.

Encouraging encouragement. The words of a parent made me ponder how I might build some young people up today with just a few brief conversations on what they are doing well.

The One Word

June 10, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 June 10, 2015

                                               

I wrote recently about a young lady who I had coached basketball for three years in high school passing away at the age of twenty.

Ever since hearing of her death I’ve been haunted…that’s the best word I can come up with…haunted by the absence of a word!

“A word” is not necessarily meant to be a literal term. It could be a few words… or one comment… or one encouragement…or one probing question. Just one thing that might have helped her define her life direction, her purpose, the potential of her vibrant spirit.

There have been other people who I’ve said things to, though unaware of it at the time, who have come back to me later and told me the effect of my words. I’ve written things that touched people in profound ways that I had no clue about.

And so it haunts me to know that this young woman could not latch on to something that I taught her, or I could not find that one word to guide her, years later, through rough waters.

Knowing the ache in my heart, I can’t imagine the aching fatigue in the lives of her family members.

One word! I think back over my life and the “one words” that have helped me get on track. My Uncle George taking me into the bedroom of my grandparents’ house in Oil Springs, Kentucky and giving me his “one word” after I came home from my first quarter of college with a GPA of “.533!” That’s right…the decimal point is to the left of the first number greater than “0”!

I remember Jerry Heslinga, our associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Ironton, Ohio giving me his “one word” that helped me stay the course in seminary.

I’m thankful for the “one word” that Gene Gilbert has for me on Sunday mornings when he lays a hand on my shoulder before worship and says a prayer for me.

And the “one word” that Rev. Chuck Landon imparted to me as I was floundering in the pool of pastoring. His “one word” was like a lifeline that kept me afloat.

I think of the “one word” of my coaching mentor, Don Fackler. Every time I hear, or say, “discombobulated” …which, believe it or not, is quite often, I see his bespectacled face.

And I think of my closest friend in ministry, Tom Bayes, and the defining conversations we would have. Sometimes I would be in the depths of despair and Tom would lift my spirits, and at other times when I had whacky thoughts he would ask a question to help me right the ship.

“One word” people have been instrumental in my life.

That knowledge makes it that much more difficult for me to know that I didn’t have that “one word” for this lady. In times like these I’m not sure there is a silver lining. Perhaps it will cause me to be more mindful of what I say and don’t say. Perhaps I’ll treasure the relationships I have even more.

The ache in my spirit has not lessened since last Friday. Perhaps that’s a good thing!