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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I do what I do by Terry Burns

The writer’s testimony that I have on my personal website comes from a time nearly 20 years ago when I was attending the conference in Glorieta NM as a writer (that’s the conference that is at the Ghost Ranch at Abique NM now).  My mission was to learn what God was expecting of me in my writing and how to use my faith in my writing. A part of the process was going through an exercise intended to identify my spiritual gifts. They turned out to be music, writing, and the gift of encouragement. Some time later I felt called to use this gift of encouragement as an agent and my focus changed.

I work with clients as a means of using this gift and that’s difficult since there are so very many submissions that come in and I can take such a small number of them. Still, I try to the best of my ability to respond to those that I can’t take in such a way as to encourage them and give them hope. Of the ones I do choose to work with it means I have a larger percentage of debut authors than most agents want to have, I know that, and it does impact on the financial return for my efforts. Still, it’s what I feel led to do whatever I need to do and wherever I need to go to make it happen. On Publisher’s Marketplace I am generally up on the top of the list of agents placing debut authors, often number one, but that also means I don’t get to do as many big deals as many other agents. It is what it is, I have to go where I feel led to go.

I present at conferences around the country, generally twenty or so a year, for the same reason. I do it trying to use this gift of encouragement to help other writers use their words for the Lord. Am I seeing a return for my efforts? Am I being successful? I don’t know, how do you measure success in providing encouragement? How many people have to give you feedback that something you did encouraged or helped them?  One is enough to keep me going.

Encouragement is important in writing, more than in many other endeavors because writing is by definition a very solitary task. Writers often do not get this encouragement from friends and family who do not really understand. If they do get it they often find it is a sort of ‘blind faith’ from a mother, husband or wife who just think everything we do is wonderful. That is heart-warming, but not particularly useful from a writing perspective. What is useful is feedback from others in the business, people who understand the process, people who can encourage but who can also help us grow in our craft. That’s why we are in critique groups and writing groups and attend meetings and conferences.

And it’s why I have chosen to do what I do.

4 comments:

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

I'm grateful that you do what you do! Am I appreciate all the encouragement you've given me--especially in helping this newby author get started!

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

That was supposed to be "and I appreciate".

Joanne Sher said...

As one of your "rejects," you definitely encouraged me. I so appreciate that you're out there, doing what God wants you to. Thank you.

Rick Barry said...

Terry, you asked yourself whether you're successful. But success can't be measured in inches, decibels, square feet, pounds or dollar signs. If you're faithfully pursuing the direction that you believe God has set before you, then, yes, that is the pathway of success by the highest possible standard. Blessings to you.