I was a closet writer for thirty or so years. I can count the few times over those years that I pulled my material out of seclusion and offered it to select people. What I dared to have printed for a larger audience remained anonymous. But finally at age 50, I published my first book.
Although in my early twenties I had every intention to write for publication, over the years, reasons piled up to keep me in the closet. They seriously impacted the confidence and fortitude it takes to expose one’s thoughts to possible rejection. “You can’t,” eggs some people on, and they burst those bonds with Samson-like determination. For others of us, however, the accumulation of difficulties and fear can entangle our talents and bind them in dark musty corners.
Yet, as fans of the Narnian chronicles know, a shadowed closet may germinate new worlds out of impediments. God’s economy wastes nothing; so the decades that passed granted me experience. I pondered questions of fate and faith and wrangled with my Lord. I tried to let the years teach me, scribbling sporadically about the journey.
After converting to the Orthodox Church, the writings of her elders—ancient and contemporary—plunged me into further dimensions to ponder. This, combined with the practice of sacramental Christianity lived on the ground, began to fill me up with words needing outlet. An increase of ardor for the quest of God now contended strongly against the old accumulation of difficulties and fear.
Technology provided the forum to move out of the shadows a little, test my courage and let my meditations breathe into the common air. And so “Lynette Smith’s Lagan,” a blogsite of essays, was born. After a couple of years of blogging, key people in my life—especially my spiritual father—encouraged me to rework these essays into a book. Would it become published? I didn’t dare beleaguer the question lest it drive me back into the closet.
The time came when the book seemed finished, and simultaneously an opportunity for publication seemed to arise. Then all came to a stand-still. I began to wonder if I should just shelve the project. Depression snaked itself around my budding confidence.
Mercifully, one day I came across a quote from C.S. Lewis to his friend, Arthur Greeve, who was anxious about the slow progress of his writing career. What he wrote broke me loose. “It is not your business to succeed, but to do right: when you have done so, the rest lies with God.”
Patrons and publishers do or don’t do whatever they choose. I was the only person I could compel into motion. It was my job only to put forth my writing, not to force or control the outcome. Probably more than half my life was over; what did I have to lose? At the very least I would someday hold up a manuscript and publisher rejection slips before the Judge of all and say, “Lord, I managed to put it out there. Here’s proof that I did not let fear forever bury the talent you gave me.” In the end, a publishing contract came about.
I don’t kid myself that I’ll always get published if I simply “do what is right.” What matters is that I continue to offer what I can as God enables me.
Lynette Smith lives near Denver, Colorado with her husband and cat. She grew up on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, and as a young adult assisted missionaries in Southeast Asia. She converted to the Orthodox Christian Church in the middle of getting her Masters in Biblical Studies at Denver Seminary. She and her husband attend St. Columba Orthodox Church, a Western Rite parish under the Antiochian jurisdiction. She has taught Bible studies in both Protestant and Orthodox churches, been guest speaker at Orthodox retreats, and currently serves as chanter in her home parish. You can learn about her book, “Voyage: A Quest for God Within Christian Tradition,” at www.lynetteasmith.com. The book is available through Regina Orthodox Press, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble.