“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves” Psalm 126:5-6 (NRSV).
Writing for publication is a lot like growing crops. Surprised? The last verses of Psalm 126 celebrate a bountiful harvest. The people who planted the crop had the faith to sow the seed, watch, wait, and, when the time was right, brought in the harvest. So how is that like writing?
- Sowing: In Bible times, farmers planted grain by walking the length and breadth of the field. They scattered seeds on the ground without any effort to cover them with earth. Writers, our submission process is like sowing seed. We send out our submissions to publishers far and wide. It may not be hard physical work, but preparing manuscripts for publication is sometimes an arduous, tearful process.
- Cultivating: A seed needs water and nutrients to sprout grow into a plant that will yield grain. The farmer watches and intervenes only to be sure the plant has water or fertilizer. Writers should continually improve their craft, cultivate connections with other writers, and be open to suggestions to suggested changes in works in progress.
- Waiting: Each plant has a definite number of days required to reach maturity. The sower must wait until maturity to know the quality of the harvest. Writers know they must wait for a decision on whether their work will be published. Although most of us are not good at waiting, we accept that it must be done.
- Reaping: Sometimes storms of wind or flood destroy the crop or reduce the yield significantly. In such cases, the sower is powerless to stop it. But, once the plant reaches maturity, the farmer must harvest the crop to know the amount of yield. Sometimes it’s a bumper crop. Sometimes it’s barely enough to give him a living. Occasionally, it’s a total loss. A writer might get an acceptance letter. Then, again, the letter could be a rejection.
The sower (writer) must sow every year, whether in joy or sorrow. In spring (the time for sowing), there’s hope for the new crop regardless of last year’s result. Writers must submit work regularly, work with editors, and help with marketing to get published. In this psalm, the sowers went out weeping, despairing that they would have a good crop. But, God restored their fortunes, and they harvested bountifully, rejoicing as they brought the sheaves of grain home. If we writers persist in the same manner, asking God for help, we can expect a harvest of joy, too.
Prayer: Father God, help us to be enthusiastic in our efforts to be published. Give us strength when we feel like giving up. Help us wait when waiting is required. Whether our harvest is bountiful or sparse, we give thanks for the opportunity to share our faith with believers and non-believers alike. Amen.
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