Yesterday, I published my second novel, a Western mystery called Never. The exhilaration of being published a second time is even stronger than the first. Holding two books in your hands is much more impressive than holding only one. Telling people “I’m an author” somehow feels more true when you have multiple books.
I have more people excited about this book’s release than my first. There were more people anticipating it--some of them people I didn’t even personally know! There’s been a little more buzz about it. A little more talk around the internet.
Now, with Firmament: Radialloy and Never both sitting beside me on the bed, I have a proud feeling of accomplishment. My books. They’re real. I worked hard for them. People are enjoying them, raving about them, even. People who haven’t read them are interested in reading them, or at least learning more. The name “J. Grace Pennington” is starting to mean something in certain circles. It’s small, but it's new. And it's exciting.
I think back over the hard months of emotional hardships and hard work and worry and planning and learning, and I’m proud of my accomplishment.
As the feelings sink into my heart and lend themselves to words in my mind, one word in particular slaps me in the face.
I take mental inventory of the words and phrases I used to describe this victory to myself. My books. I worked hard. People are talking about me. I pressed through hardship and got it done. I published these books. My accomplishment.
Such is the pitfall of the artist.
What happened to never boasting except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?
For every artist, one of the greatest temptations is to drift into seeing our work as an expression of ourselves. Who we are, what we’ve done, what we want. You can start out with the best intentions, and still find that the feeding of your ego by admirers and accomplishments chipping away at any humility you may have possessed. We pour so much of ourselves into our work, we give our time, our heart, our soul, we deserve some praise, some recognition, some recompense.
Myself. My time. My heart. My soul.
Somewhere in the process, we forget that we are not our own, that we were bought with a price. That our time, hearts, and souls, belong to Someone Else. That despite all we might like to think, it isn’t our accomplishment. Because we aren’t here to glorify ourselves, are we?
And yet no matter how many times we learn this, it’s so easy to slip back into ego, and pride, and self-serving thoughts and behavior. It’s not a battle that’s fought once. I had to fight it with my first book, and I’m fighting it again now, and I’m sure I’ll have to fight it with my third book, and my fourth, and my fifth, and as many as He allows me to publish. It’s a lifelong battle.
But it’s a battle that we can win. Because we aren’t alone in the fight.
And the reward -- the “well done, good and faithful servant” that we all want to hear -- is worth it.
My name is J. Grace Pennington.
And I am a servant of the King.
. . .
J. Grace Pennington is a young author living with her family of eleven in the Texas Hill Country. When not writing, she likes to play with her siblings, bake her world-famous chocolate-chip cookies, and play film soundtracks and hymns on her various instruments. She desires that her writing and her life would give glory to her King and Creator at all times.