Authorship Is A Lesson In Humility

The pain was almost unbearable as I read my book doctor’s lengthy and critical evaluation of my first manuscript. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. Without significant additional help, not to mention hundreds of hours of work and a lot of money for surgery, my manuscript wasn’t going to live. It was my first lesson in humility as a would-be author.

Thankfully, my book doctor was funny and tactful as he delivered his prognosis. He told me he could teach me how to resuscitate my baby if I was willing to pay the $80 per hour co-pay.

As if my deficiencies as a writer weren’t a big enough blow to my ego, I was also told I had to wait three months before he could carve out time for my writing lessons. Come on, man! Three months? Really?

The harsh truth was no matter how much authority and respect I garnered in my day job as a physician, in the world of book-writing and publishing, I was a vulnerable, inexperienced nobody. I couldn’t even get a writing coach’s quick attention when I was paying.

Fast forward a year, and thanks to my book doctor’s worth-the-wait teaching, plus my own endurance through repeated rejections and humiliation, I produced a much-improved manuscript and ultimately went on to secure Greg Johnson as my agent and a publishing contract with Zondervan for The Eden Diet.

Woo-hoo! I got an amazing agent and a book contract! I thought that meant, “No more begging for people’s time and attention regarding my book.” Wrong! I hadn’t yet even begun to market. I didn’t know yet how humiliating book signings can be, “Please, Mrs. Bookstore Patron, may I interrupt your shopping agenda and tell you about my book?” Many stopped and listened, politely, but some walked right by, as if they didn’t hear me talking.

Compare that to my life at the office. In my doctor-world, I have actual authority and garner near-immediate respect from people who don’t even know me.

Fast forward again and now I have a contract with Strang/Charisma House for a book that can help even more people. Will I risk rejection again as I hold book signings and market for this second book? Absolutely. I counted the cost, and it’s worth the price. My message can bring countless readers into physical, mental and spiritual wholeness. Isn’t their profound healing worth a little momentary discomfort on my part?

Besides, any tiny shred of humiliation I endure along the way to help other people is infinitesimally small compared to the humiliation my Lord suffered when He was hung on the cross. Actually, now that I think about His humiliation for the greater good, I don’t even have the right to talk about humility.

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About Doctor Rita

Dr. Rita Hancock is a board-certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation doctor with a sub-specialty board certification in Pain Medicine. She is also a Christian physician, and serves as the Oklahoma state representative in the House of Representatives of the Christian Medical And Dental Association. Dr. Rita writes about health and wellness issues as they relate to her faith. Her books include The Eden Diet (Zondervan, 2008) and Radical Well-being (Siloam, 2013), which helps you overcome stress-induced illnesses, such as fibromyalgia, headaches, neck and back pain, TMJ dysfunction, IBS, and other illnesses that are aggravated by stress. For more information about Dr. Rita's diet books and relaxation CDs, visit www.TheEdenDiet.com or www.RadicalWell-being.com.

10 thoughts on “Authorship Is A Lesson In Humility

  1. Rita, I love your reminder that Jesus already endured the ultimate in humility. As long as our writing and work is for His glory, it’s all worth it, no matter what the price.

  2. Rita, thanks for your post. It’s also a reminder to new authors that writing is both a gift and a craft. It takes years and some great teachers to become a doctor, and the journey as a writer can be just as long. Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. So true! Far from the vision of accolades that many view as the life of a writer, it is a continual lesson in humility. Even as we work so hard to share the message we know to be valuable, we must learn to recognize and understand that the vast majority do not and will not value it.

    And, yes, the same is true of the message Jesus brought thru so much agony…

    Thank you for the well-worded reminder…

  4. As a writing instructor, I often hesitated handing a student my remarks–that’s what I NEVER used a red pen! I wanted to encourage their writing, not make them drop the course. That’s why I just marked a few paragraphs and sent it back to them with a list of items that they needed to check throughout the manuscript–the grammar and mechanical issues. Well, that–and I figured they needed to do the work, not me.

    My husband serves as my “grammar cop”! I’ve felt the sting of his red pen many years. He’s a little better with his comments now. One time, he circled something and made this note in big RED letters: “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!”

  5. I admit that, when I first started writing, the corrections and the rejections bothered me more than they should have. It felt like I was on a bit of a self-esteem roller coaster, and I wasn’t used to that. One day, I’d feel like I was “on top of the world” because I’d get positive feedback from a reader (e.g. one who lost 100 pounds through my diet book, The Eden Diet. See http://www.TheEdenDiet.com). And then, on another day, I’d feel low because none of the TV or radio producers returned my phone calls. But you can’t live like that, dependent on what other people think of [you and] your writing. It’s too draining on your emotions, and it serves only to distract you from your mission and your joy in life. You have to accept that your editors and advisers aren’t rejecting, correcting, OR JUDGING WHO YOU ARE, they’re simply trying to help you develop in your writing skills. This book-writing lesson is really bigger than it seems. It’s a lesson in life, in general.

  6. A lesson on humility is always welcome here! I want to think I’m willing to share my writing know-how b/c of a generous spirit. But I admit it is nice when someone admires the number of articles I’ve pub’d or children’s books I’ve written. God, help me keep my eyes on You at all times. Amen.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. I admire you for hanging in there. I have an editor who performs surgery on my MS sometimes without anasthesia! Ouch!

    But it is worth it in the end. He helps me develop the plot in ways I hadn’t thought of. It is humbling…thank You Lord!

    Great post!

  8. Great description for those of us comfortable in our daily routines, but who are now called to a secondary career/ministry as a writer called by God. Humility is a hard medicine to swallow, but one we need, in order to survive the change in life when we seriously pursue this craft. It isn’t for the fragile ego.

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