Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No Mile Along the Journey Is Wasted

Good morning, everyone! It’s a little after 5 a.m. in Nashville, and I still haven’t washed the Sandman’s visit out of my eyes. This week while I prepare for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and attend the conference in Indianapolis Thursday through Monday, I thought it would be fun and beneficial for you to invite some of my talented authors to share their experiences and inspiration with you.

Today’s guest blogger is Richard L. Mabry, MD, a retired physician and medical school professor who achieved worldwide recognition as a writer, speaker, and teacher before turning his talents to non-medical writing after his retirement. He is the author of Code Blue and Medical Error, the first two novels in The Prescription for Trouble series from Abingdon Press; one non-fiction book, and his inspirational pieces have appeared in numerous periodicals. He and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas. He’s one great guy, and his stories reflect his decades of medical experience. You’ll love his romantic suspense! Visit Dr. Mabry at his website: Heeeerrrrreeee's Richard!

Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

My children must have hated some of our family road trips. From the moment we were out of the driveway with me behind the wheel, I was focused on my goal: getting there. Bathroom stops were grudging, food consumed at a gallop. It couldn’t have been easy for my sweet, patient wife. After it was much too late for the “kids”—who could no longer be called that—to reap the benefits, I discovered that the journey is as much a part of the trip as anything.

Some writers approach their art in the same way. Work really hard, keep your eyes straight ahead, never stop to look at the scenery, pay no attention to the people you encounter along the way, think only about “getting there.” But it doesn’t have to work like that…and that’s good. Because taking time along the way is never wasted. The journey is a wonderful part of the trip.

Like a lot of neophytes, I attended my first writer’s conference hoping to catch the attention of an agent or editor, submit my work, and be published soon thereafter. By the second day, I’d given up that idea and started to enjoy the experience of meeting fellow writers, becoming acquainted with well-known authors (who, I discovered, were pretty much real folks), and finding that editors and agents weren’t so fearsome and some of them were even fun. I was beginning to focus on the trip, not the destination. And the people I met along the way were some of the nicest I’ve ever encountered.

For years I worked to learn the craft, but I also decided to work on becoming a member of the writing community. I kept in touch with the people I’d met. I made a point of speaking to writers, editors, and agents as our paths crossed again. Some of them even remembered my name. There were times that I attended a conference or a meeting for the sheer joy of fellowship, with no hope of achieving anything other than refreshing my soul and recharging my writing batteries.

Did anything come of this? One of the editors with whom I became friends at my first conference ended up being my agent. My relationships with established authors allowed me to approach some of them for possible endorsements. Several of the same editors who passed on some of my early work (and, in retrospect, with good reason) rejoiced with me when I told them I had a contract. And a myriad of fellow writers, at various stages along their own road to publication, were nothing but gracious in their congratulations. All because I’d taken the time to relate to them as friends and colleagues, not as someone whom I could use to achieve my goals.

So, to all of you who are on the journey to publication, wherever you happen to be located right now, please remember to pull into a rest stop from time to time. Meet some people. Enjoy the fellowship. You’ll find it’s one of the neatest parts of this thing they call writing.

And the great reviews for Richard Mabry keep rolling in. Here’s one from writing guru and author James Scott Bell after reading Code Blue:

“A healthy dose of mystery, with ample injections of suspense and romance. Richard Mabry’s splendid debut novel is just what the doctor ordered.”

Please let me know how today’s blog has helped you. This becomes a two-way conversation when you post a comment. Often I jump back on the blog during the day and will answer your questions or respond to your comments. I have both published and unpublished authors who read The Roving Editor, and we’d love to hear from you so that we can learn from your experience. Let’s talk!


  1. What great advice about the journey! As I look back over my publishing career, that's my second favorite part of the whole process. My favorite is meeting other people with the same goals and dreams.

  2. I've been thinking along these lines myself lately. Sure, I'd love that contract, but I understand more and more that it is indeed a journey. So I'll take my appointments this weekend in Indy, pitch, and shake a little with nerves, but I've got friends waiting there for me. The hugs, the prayers, and the fun are a huge reason I'm going. And I've got more books to write and more to learn.

    Packing today for another part of the journey!

  3. Debby and Teri, thanks for your comments. The temptation of treating people with the view of "What can I get from them?" isn't confined to writers, of course. In my thirty-five years in medicine, I sometimes found myself conversing at a meeting with a colleague who was looking over my shoulder for a better (i.e., more useful) contact.
    Hope you both enjoy your own journeys as I've finally learned to enjoy mine.

  4. Since I'm driving to Indy, I'll enjoy the journey much more than if I was crammed on an airplane. Air travel isn't what it used to be. LOL Everybody wave when you come into the editor/agent room! I'll give you a smile and a thumbs up. :)

  5. Good luck and travel mercies to those traveling. Being motivated towards a goal is a strength although God often slows us down in order to learn as much from the journey. Being aware of this makes the "slow down" a little less painful.

  6. Richard,

    You've been one of the enjoyable characters to meet at Mount Hermon. I would say you have the affable type of personability that is perfectly suited for building relationships. I believe being likeable is a key factor in all of this. One challenge I would put up to my friends who are heading to Indy: look around and see who could use a little encouragement...and then be the one.

  7. The journey is full of discoveries and I've already been blessed so many times by encounters along the way. No matter where we are on the ladder of experience there is someone else above us offering a helping hand, and someone below who needs one. The writers' community is a wonderful place!

    Your mention of James Scott Bell reminds me of Barbara's earlier post on divine appointments. I've been attending a conference here in Vancouver, Canada for many years and this year had finally gained the courage to book appointments with Donald and Lisa (Rector) Maass. When I discovered they had to cancel their attendance at the conference I was crushed... until I learned that alternate appointments had been set up for me with Cameron McClure and James Scott Bell. While I'm not expecting any miracles, I trust God's maneuverings and appreciate the opportunity to meet these two men.

    Carol Garvin

  8. Sally, your comment reminds me of the words of a song we sang in church a few weeks ago. The song, Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer, was unfamiliar, but is already a favorite. In part, it says "Let the treasures of the trial form within me as I go..." In other words, even the toughest journey can bless us.

    Michael, at Mount Hermon, as with all other encounters I have, I try to treat others as I'd like to be treated. Hmmm. Sounds almost Biblical, doesn't it? Thanks for your kind words and for putting forth the challenge to apply the Golden Rule in our lives.

    Carol, I believe your divine appointments were just that. Isn't it great that sometimes God doesn't give us what we want, but instead gives what we need?

  9. Barbara and Richard, thank you for this post. It really encouraged me to enjoy the journey. Our greatest achievements happen on the inside.

  10. Richard, I was greatly encouraged by your post. I've blogged about it a bit at I have struggled with the constant pressure to keep up with the social networking, etc. I am glad you reminded us we are here first as people for people, ie, I am here to serve, not be served. And to enjoy the journey God has given us.

  11. Richard, You are so on-target with this advice. I spend way too much time with my eyes on the road ahead instead of enjoying the scenery along the way! Thanks for the helpful reminder!

  12. Richard, we're all too busy these days, and I needed the reminder to enjoy the journey. I plan on a long talk with the Lord as I drive to Indy. May He continue to bless the work of your hands; you have helped so many people in both of your careers.

  13. I'm glad my advice struck a chord with Barbara's readers. It's a lesson I almost learned too late in life, but better late than never.
    Cindy, Diana, and Sue: you show me that I'm not the only one who has struggled with the problem. Thanks for your comments.
    Thanks to all of you who dropped by to comment. And thanks to Barbara for letting me borrow her audience. Blessings, all.

  14. It's been a pleasure getting to know you here, Richard. His blessings on the writing journey as you seek to put others before yourself. Thank you for this reminder.