As a book-addicted kid, I planned to publish my first novel a few years after college. I would stay home, raise children, and happily work at my desk while getting paid.

Three years after college, I got my first book contract: a deal to write a travel guide to Southern Maine. Not a blockbuster, but one that allowed me to stay home with my newborn son, Judah. I also began writing fiction for children, hoping to publish a novel.

This fall Judah will be a senior in high school. He has five siblings. And, while the travel book came and went, my first novel fills a laundry basket in my writing shed. The second. I’m editing. And my agent will soon send my memoir to potential publishers.

“The one talent that is indispensable to a writer is persistence,” said Tom Clancy. “You must write the book, else there is no book. It will not finish itself. Do not try to commit art. Just tell the story.”

In September, I’ll be sharing about my nearly two decades of making a living as a writer at the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers conference in China, Maine. I’ll also be talking about persistence. I’ve found, much of it comes down to owning the right mug.

When I’m feeling tired and uninspired, I connect with the Muse by filling a Macbeth mug I bought in London during college :


 When I struggle to believe that my words will ever make it through the difficult process of publishing, I draw inspiration from illustrator Mary Engelbreit.


And when I think I cannot possibly write or read another draft of a yet-to-be-published manuscript, I fill a jumbo-sized mug from Our Name Is Mud:IMG_5404

The last mug is my favorite. Unfortunately, I recently chipped the edge, directly above the words telling me to “Think Happy Thoughts”–another useful habit for writers.

Thankfully, the outcome of my work doesn’t depend on happy thoughts. And my greatest inspiration isn’t found in a mug. It is found in my faith that God alone watches over my work. That the One who gave me the gift of words will also use them to bless others. And that whether I ever receive another paycheck, God himself is my reward.

To have true persistence you must know WHY what you are doing is worth it. And as much as I want to see my words between the cover of a book, my ultimate goal is to tell stories that bring people closer to God. Publishing a book is simply a way to get there.

And so, despite many ups and downs and obstacles, I keep writing–with a good mug in hand and an ancient prayer on my lips:

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer,” Psalm 119:14.

Whether you want to be a writer or a rock star, that’s what ultimately matters.

What do you think?