Today….I Must Be Honest

A Fractured Faith has increasingly, in recent months, acted as a vehicle to publicise a book I have been writing. Since the turn of the year, it has taken up a considerable amount of my free time. I have made steady progress and a few months ago started to release sections of it to a dozen beta readers for honest feedback and constructive criticism. Around half of these volunteers have since fallen by the wayside but those who have stuck about have been worth their weight in gold.

This time last week I was nearing the end of the book’s fourth edit. I anticipated there was approximately another week’s work and I was done. Then it was just a matter of collating and reviewing the beta feedback, tweaking the manuscript as suggested, and moving onto the next phase of pitching the story to potential agents. I was nearing the end of phase one of the journey, so was pressing down hard on the accelerator as the finish line loomed up ahead.

That was last week. I haven’t written a word since and cannot bring myself to look at it. There are a number of reasons for this that I won’t bore you with. I initially thought I was sick of the story and characters. Familiarity breeds contempt, after all. As the week has progressed, however, I’ve come to the conclusion there is more to it than that. I’m not sick of the book, rather I’m sick of myself.

I started this blog with Fionnuala to help other people, not sell a book or promote myself as some hot shot writer. The message was about humility; pointing out to others that it is possible to utterly mess up your life, yet still recover and rebuild it. It increasingly feels I’m not doing that but allowing my ravenous ego to take over and drag me kicking and screaming in completely the wrong direction. I may write the words, but I don’t want the blog to be about me.

So the laptop remains switched off this week, as I struggle with where I am heading. At the minute, I don’t know when it will be switched on again either. The same applies to my running shoes since the disaster that was the Causeway Coast Marathon two weeks ago. I never thought I would hear myself say these words but I don’t particularly want to run or write at present. I just want to be close to Fionnuala and the kids. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted.

I can only be honest. I know no other way to write. I’ve poured everything into the book and I’m not sure I have much left to offer. The prospect of countless rejection letters completely switches me off. I know my skin isn’t thick enough to handle that. Increasingly, the thought of tidying up the final few chapters and storing it a drawer, grows increasingly appealing. My dream was to write a book and I will have achieved it. That might be enough.

Running and writing a book are stretching me too thin. There is so much more I could be doing to support my family rather than pursuing distant pipe dreams. I’m not sure I have the strength to follow either to the distance. Mentally, I feel exhausted and, physically I’m not far behind. These, in turn, damage my spiritual health, which I am trying hard to rebuild. It has to be my priority, for if it suffers then I cannot fulfil my primary roles of being a good husband and father.

That’s how it is, at present. I’m excited to have started my Bible studies again. I’m excited for, and proud of my kids, for everything they achieve every day. I love my wife deeply and want to be there for her in any possible way I can. As for publishing a book or running a marathon? At the minute, there is nothing I can think of doing less. That could change tomorrow. But today, I must be honest. There is no other way. Honesty is what I crave.

77 thoughts on “Today….I Must Be Honest

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  1. Much love to you and your family. I certainly understand what it’s like to wake up one day and feel like you have lost sight of the direction you’ve wanted to go. I know I’ve done it more times than I care to count. Lucky for all of us, as long as we’re still breathing we still have the opportunity to steer our ships back towards the light we desire. Hang in there and have faith in knowing you’ll find your way once more.

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  2. There is no surprise that rekindling your love affair with the Bible brings about renewed desires for selflessness and loving on your family. I’ve currently been out of work for two months because I hit the exhaustion wall that brought about a CFS diagnosis. I was simply doing too much and blogging/ministry were two of the items that I had to step back from. As I slowly rebuild my life I am able to reprioritize family first, then church. I am on the precipice of quitting my 18 year 60 to 70 hour week high paying job, there’s just no room for that kind of sacrifice anymore. It will be a sacrifice (if I have the courage to go through with it) but the Trinity models that our entire existence is about people and not performance. You are in good hands, you are in HIS hands… follow your convictions wherever they lead, your faithful readers will be here, some are praying for you, some encouraging in other ways. That’s the beauty of this community, we are not alone and that’s a wonderfulthing! Press on brother ❤️🙏👍

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  3. Oh, Stephen, I can fully relate to what you are saying. I recall when I realized that I needed to give up my dream – for now – of publishing further children’s books and focus on my children (my own and those in ministry) instead. I felt I could only pour myself into a few things and do them as fully as God would have me to do. I know I have more writing to do one day, and I look forward to it, but I am content and less stressed having made that decision years ago. I will pray for you as you consider what steps to take at this time. God bless you and your family!🙏

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  4. I heard a message recently that said, “the closer we get to our Destiny, the more opposition we’ll encounter…the enemy always wants us to give up, because he knows God has a good plan and purpose for us, a future of hope”. So, if you need a break to recalculate or prioritize, or just breathe–God has plenty of grace for that and will guide you in the right direction. God bless you and your family most abundantly during this resting season ❤

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  5. It is thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and there is much I will be giving thanks for. Primarily my husband and my children, who are adults now. It’s not easy raising a family and it sounds to me like you have your priorities in order. You are a very talented writer, but more than that, you are a compassionate and kind person. You have already left a mark on this world through your blog that has inspired and helped many. I wish you the blessings of peace and serenity. All things work out in the end. Take a much needed break and enjoy your family. Happy Thanksgiving from Canada!

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  6. There is plenty of time for all things. There is no rush for the book. It will wait if that is what you need. It will still be there when you get back to it. You have a lot of life in front of you and stopping to listen for God is always good.

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  7. Take your time, spend time with your family, enjoy and make memories. Then when there is time and when you feel ready get back to your hobbies. We all need our own interests and just by sharing your experiences it does not mean you have made the blog self centred. You are just letting readers into a little bit of your life, which judging by the amount of readers you have, everyone enjoys 😊

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  8. Take your time with you. We’ll all still be here. And I’m sorry I’ve fallen off the KSC beta wagon…I’m still flailing on the ground trying to get out of the ditch and back on the road. (The Good Samaritan hasn’t come by yet.) All the best to you as you draw closer to the Lord. 🙏🏻

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  9. If you were closer and one of my few female friends, I’d be driving right over with a funny movie and a box of chocolates.

    I don’t know what therapies work for you, but I DO know that your perspective will change if you can get back the old Stephen drive.

    [I’ve been kinda wondering about your ego guilt, to be honest right back at you… ;)]

    And you’re not allowed to stick Skelly’s Square in a drawer! Don’t murder your characters before they’re born. Save that for the sequel.

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  10. I always appreciate your honesty and openness in your blogs. I will be praying that God shows you the direction He would have you go, and that you can follow that path in complete peace and confidence.

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  11. I really appreciate the honesty in this post.

    Whenever I realise that I’ve become obsessed with my writing, I step back, leave it for a while, and remind myself of what really matters in life. This is why I no longer want to become a professional author; I want writing to be something I enjoy, not something that causes me stress and anxiety and makes me feel like a failure.

    Too many people value creativity by its commercial success. As long as you’ve enjoyed writing the book, and you’re proud if it, then it’s been worthwhile. It’s wonderful that other people have read it and enjoyed it too! I’m so happy for you!

    You always sound really passionate about the book when you discuss it, so I expect you’ll want to return to it eventually, either to polish it and put it aside, or to share it with the world (as you know, traditional publishing and rejection letters are no longer an author’s only option!)

    I hope you feel better soon. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading about your writing journey!

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  12. The primary roles of being a good husband and father matter the most. Someday you, hopefully very soon, you might come back to running and writing another book as they are part of your honest self that gave you strength. The dreams, the disappointments of the rejected letters, the repeated work of editing drain anybody’s energy.
    I don’t know if you can run and write without the ultimate hope of publishing success just for now.
    May you find help and further wisdom in your renewed religions studies and the willingness to not fully deny what is very important of you.

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  13. I am going to be devil’s advocate for the writing. Yes, seeking a publisher can be a heart scald. BUT, do you feel that your book has a helpful/hopeful theme? Because maybe somebody really needs your words today. Listen, I am a poet, which is a really minority sport readership. Yet, I posted a poem the other day that about 10 people looked at. But there was one person that it spoke to right where they lived and it appeared at just the right time. So, the writing is not necessarily all about the ego. Or it can be. So maybe don’t be so quick to give up. Rest a bit becaue it is gruelling to live with draft after draft. I know. My husband went through it.

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  14. I would say Why not just tidy up the last few chapters and put it in a drawer until you feel stronger/ more ready to take the next step? Why not stop running marathons? There’s nothing wrong in taking a pause – it’s nothing to feel guilty about. You’re not letting down those people who have read and commented and helped you with your book – you’re taking time to reflect on what they’ve told you about it. Even if you feel you’ve wasted years writing the book, you haven’t, because you’ve learned, and grown through the process, and hopefully enjoyed the process too. Your running has helped you improve your health & fitness – now, why not just continue with shorter runs for pleasure (not that I understand how running anywhere can be a pleasure!)
    It seems to me God is saying Stop a moment. Pause. Take time to “be” with Him, with your family, with yourself. But don’t think you’re doing something wrong, or letting people down. You’re not.

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  15. There is no hurry. Do what you can when you feel the time is right. However, I’d hate to see you allow fear to stop you. Yes, you may…no, you WILL get some rejection letters. That happens to EVERYONE that writes, but it would not be the end of the world. If nothing else, you can selfpublish…either in physical book form or as an ebook.

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  16. Well I’ve read the first 30 chapters of your book and I think it is worth continuing with and frankly I really want to know what happens next. If you feel like taking a break with it, that’s ok, but please don’t abandon it. Even if it doesn’t get accepted by a publisher you can always self-publish it. I think that story deserves to be seen by others.

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  17. Don’t give up! The Lord has taken you this far and He will complete the work in you. Don’t worry about rejection just believe in yourself and the ability that God has given you. It is your book and your story so enjoy it and love it. Soon others will follow. You are a great writer! I enjoy reading all of your posts.

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      1. I am praying that you will return to it because I feel deep within my heart that it will be a best seller. I know base on the quality of writing in your blog. So I will pray that God will renew your strength and zeal to complete your book.

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  18. I know EXACTLY how you feel! I am sick of rejections, sick of editing, love the theme of my book, and got positive feedback, but cannot stand doing one more minute of work on it right now! I just want to do my Bible studies and share them with others, through my blog page. Last night it came to me crystal clear, that it’s not all about me, but Jesus. Leave it up to Him. Also, John 3:30 came blasting through the silence, He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. I don’t need to prove something by leaving a legacy. I just need to share the love of Jesus with others. So today I took my picture off my blog site and my name, and am leaving it up to Him! So thanks for being honest and letting me know I am not alone in this struggle!

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  19. Hmmm … ok, so it sounds like my Betty has paid you a visit. She needs to be sent back home, back to my garage where she can remain shackled. Temptation is always there in many, many forms. Temptation to take the easiest path or the most dangerously exciting path, or the path of just giving up but of course none are wise when there’s so much at stake and so much potential. And if it means you have to take a short break to regroup and take stock then so be it. But it needs to have an end, a day that you decide to get back your mojo, fight it and remember what’s important in your life. Otherwise you’ll end up like me, feeling sorry for yourself which is another temptation. So whilst I am being faintly hypocritical, you do need to set yourself an achievable goal, and do it. Be that a short run, jog or waddle (!). So, if you put down the ice cream and put on the trainers, I’ll hide the ginger nuts and blow up Claude’s tyres. And perhaps having had a bit of time off the book and running and having metaphorically had the car in neutral, maybe it’s time to start gently and put it into first gear. Katie

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      1. Bloomin’ well done! I rode Claude for a little while, nearly got taken out by an idiot in a Discovery. Gave him hell, but he gave me hell back. He called me a rude word and I’m ashamed to say that I called him something even ruder. Oh dear … please send the chapters to the email address I gave you, not the gmail one as it’s clogged up. Are you feeling a little better?

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          1. Just realised that it’s supposed to be .com rather than .co.uk
            I think I’m slightly losing my marbles… only discovered this yesterday morning as I spent my day in Apple retrieving half the book having accidentally deleted it. 😫. Have got it back though thank goodness!

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  20. I’m still in the running as a reader 🙂 I felt really tired last week so was not able to get to comment much or get much reading done. I hope to do better this week and get 9-15 to you. I know what it is like to have a falling out with readers, it may be hurt and do your best not to take it personally. I struggled with it, but have gotten better. You absolutely have done something you originally thought you could not which is write a book. I think maybe if you feel some conviction you might have to step away, like you are wisely doing. But who knows, the book kind of is a product because of the blog. I think it can be a reminder of many things. Things to work towards and things to stay away from.

    I await eagerly to see more development with your Bible studies.

    I wanted to check with you and see if the interview questions I had for you should be sent to your personal email or resent to the Fractured Faith email, or if you still wanted to do the interview. Which is fine, if you do not. 🙂 I just wanted to try to get an update.

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