A concept I like to ponder frequently, especially in times after I've read something like that link I posted yesterday about How the Business Operates, is the fact there are in fact, two economies (which, out of the blue, just "happened" to be the subject of last night's Bible class.) There is the worldly economy, which says, Work! Write the absolute best book possible! Be better than all the others! Strive for success! Save! keep!
And then there is the heavenly economy which says, Seek first the Kingdom of God, submit to your pastor in learning God's word, live in what you've learned, and all these things will be added to you. It says, don't strive for success, strive to know God. It says, don't keep and hoard, give it away, and "it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap..." (And how cool that there are 5 different ways of measuring what is given -- five being the number of grace).
As believers we are not of this world. We have a heavenly citizenship. And if I am not a citizen of this world, then any attempt to function in the world's system, ie, according to the world's system will never lead to any real success or happiness in it.
Proverbs 4 commands us to "Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her (wisdom) and she will guard you. Love her and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; she will present you with a crown of beauty."
"I (wisdom) love those who love me," says Proverbs 8:17. "And those who diligently seek me will find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness."
God's system is grace. We follow Him, we learn of Him, we live in what we've learned, allow Him to change our thinking into His and then we have capacity to receive.
The world's system is works and striving all the way, and includes things like that horrible computerized buying procedure outlined in Holly Lisle's article. Where you get discouraged before you even start. But God has overcome the world. He is not bound by it and I, of all people, know that.
When I first went to Mt. Hermon with Arena, no one wanted fantasy. Most of you know that. There were no fantasies being published except Tolkien or Lewis. I was told that fantasy was a death word. The dreaded seven letter word. (Hmm. And seven is the number of perfection, if I'm not mistaken.) If you weren't Tolkien or Lewis your books wouldn't sell. No one would touch you with a ten foot pole. When Steve Laube took my manuscript, he held it for nearly two years before he thought he had even a prayer of getting the buying committee at Bethany House to accept it. And that after fighting and wrangling his way to seeing Kathy Tyers' Firebird books and then Ingermanson/Olson's Oxygen bought. Everywhere the word was gloom and doom.
Even after BHP bought Arena another year+ passed, during which time the word came that Kathy's Crown of Fire had already gone out of print. Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I remember Steve saying, "They're great books! We just can't get people to read them." (come to think of it, he and others have said the same thing about mine.) The future was dismal. And what in the world was I going to do to change anything? I am not a marketer. In fact, even then, my first efforts at going into the bookstores to meet the buyers and salespeople were complete fiascos.
And then the Lord just blew the doors off everything. Somehow Arena got reviewed favorably at Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal. Those two things, which I had absolutely nothing to do with, opened all the doors. It was unbelievable. PW does not review first novels of unknown authors especially not in the dreaded genre of Christian SF/Allegory. But it happened and it moved Bethany House to contract the four books of the Guardian King series-- in the straight down the road, no way to avoid calling it fantasy genre. Within two weeks I went from no discernible possibilities of every really having Arena do well enough to convince someone to buy LoGK to awestruck. That's how fast it happened. How out of the blue. Completely unexpected and totally not my doing.
And lest you say, "Well you just wrote a good book in Arena," my response is... I don't think that the books I've written since Arena are any less than it is. I actually like them better, though some readers, I'm sure, disagree. The point is, I don't think that Legends of the Guardian King is this huge step down from Arena. But it didn't get reviewed by either of those publications. Furthermore, I've seen books reviewed that I thought were very poorly done and others ignored that I thought very well done. We can go on down to the minutiae of cause and effect in the attempt to root out why certain books are reviewed and others not, but the truth is, mostly we'll never know why. The truth is, "What do you have that you have not received?" The truth is, as Deuteronomy 6 says, He gives us "great and splendid cities which we did not build, and houses full of good things which we did not fill and hewn cisterns which we did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which we did not plant..."
So yes, things may look dark and grim, now. But dark and grim is when the Light's advent always shines the brightest.