by Jeffery Romine
When I was co-chair for a medicinal chemistry program, my counterpart often insisted that the success of our executive director, his immediate supervisor, a man who had achieved not only a position of authority but respect within the organization, was due to his remarkable ability to see through the gray. At any given time, competing projects could be resourced or cut, and it was his responsibility to make the call. His skill, or let’s call it an aptitude, was to put his money not on those projects with the most popularity or even scientific excitement, but the most promise to deliver.
“We need results,” argued my co-chair in an effort to get me to make compounds that would advance our project along its critical path—lest we get cut. He was right, and he was right in his equally frequent follow-up statement, “What’s the point of getting to the market too late where others have already reaped the profits?”
While I wouldn’t say that the day-to-day operations of a pharmaceutical company are akin to a ‘dog-eat-dog’ world, I do say that timely progress is essential. The problem for my co-chair and me, however, was that we too often faced gray data. We could either scale up and push a compound forward or make more derivatives to be sure we had the best profile. In order to know what to do, we needed more data, better data, less gray data, but to wait for it to come along, when and if it did come along, meant lost time. The one sure thing was: Should we need to change directions, whatever we chose would be like a boat anchor pulling drag on our progress .
I’m an author now, and the challenges are similar. Should I revise my draft one more time or send it out? Should I write another novel or try my hand at nonfiction? Should I spend time on social media or spend money on advertising? See the gray here? Advice can help sort through the gray, and there are plenty of eager predators out there ready to provide that help—for a price.
The learning curve enroute to becoming a successful author often calls for decisions before we have clarity, but clarity can demand more time. We need advice. Working with a literary strategist like Tom Blubaugh can help cut through the gray, but he offers an altogether different take on time.
“The author’s journey is very similar to when a missionary is called into ministry. There is money to be raised, education to be garnered, languages to be learned, preventive health measures to be addressed and, of course, a people group to be selected. Years intervene between the call and the ministry. Such is true for authors too, especially those who would pursue writing as a full-time profession. There are books to write, a social media presence to build, a target audience to identify, and credibility to establish,” says Tom.
Here are a few thoughts that can help us map out our process with assurance toward the best outcome.
Don’t rush. As the scriptures teach, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty” (Prov. 21:5). Take the necessary time to ensure you’re building upon a solid ground.
Check your motives. One ingredient that can render us vulnerable to predators is something that roots in our hearts. While we do need to earn a living and pay bills, we must ask ourselves whom we serve. Jesus said we cannot serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt. 6:24) Has God called you to write? Do you have a special message to impart, a burden in your heart to share with others? If so, then the aim is to get it right, meaning accurate and well-crafted, rather than get it out on Amazon. Instead of firing off book after book (some authors strive to publish a book a month), let your work reflect his radiance.
Don’t get ahead of the Lord. Finally, if your motive and method are right, then there is no point to getting ahead of Him. Discipline, steady progress, and choosing wisely as to where best to put your time and resources are sufficient. The Lord knows who your target audience is for your writing. Or, better said, the Lord knows who his intended audience is for the message he placed in your heart to share.
Often times, that gray can be put there by God to help you focus on what you do know in your heart. That fog can actually be faith, obedience, and grace at work so that we can hear that still, small voice of God and know that He is here.
What gray have you faced lately? How did you work through it?
Jeffery Romine, PhD is an author, chemist, and volunteer staff member of Authors Community.