When Recognition Rips You Wide Open

by | Oct 19, 2012 | Uncategorized

I missed the panel discussion among authors and publishers on the writers retreat at Laity Lodge. But I did find a snatch of time to ask Lauren Winner my question.

“What is the best piece of advice you could give a writer about publishing,” I ask her standing in the breezeway after lunch on our last day. She looks down at the sidewalk in her silver horn-rims, neck bent over a clergy collar and black dress. Standing in her birkish sandals with unshaven legs, she looks up with a generous smile and responds, “Publishing isn’t going to change your life as much as you think it is. You’re still you, whether you publish or not.” Then she glances toward the Frio.

That wasn’t the answer I was expecting.

After some prodding, she admits that she does receive more open doors for speaking and meeting people, and yes people do recognize her more often since becoming an author. But publishing isn’t a magic pill for happiness.  You still live with the same person that you are, regardless of the authoring credentials.

And the gavel hits the sidewalk with a final thud.

Then I realize, her wisdom, it really is the best answer.

Because it’s abiding in Jesus that determines our fulfillment, not a book deal.

The need for recognition is an insatiable beast with a constant growling stomach. No matter how many shares, re-tweets, signed book proposals and pleasant comments we swallow, the appetite returns like pouring water on a sandy beach.

While I sit in my office in my pj’s until noon, checking Facebook updates, reading blogs and sharing what I find on Twitter, I ask God to help me let go of the desire for recognition from anyone but Him.

And I realize that I haven’t filled my bird feeders since we got back from vacation. In August.

The birds flit full on the branches every day since.

A few posts I enjoyed reading this week on the theme of Letting Go:

Mary struggles with unanswered questions about her daughter’s sickness after she returns from Haiti: “Then that helpless feeling that I had come to the end of myself. The rope that once felt strong, withered in my hands and I let go.” They need our prayers.

Ro faces her fears and joins Facebook, “From this one step…I could breath more easily…I felt an element of freedom.”

Amber on how and where we let go of the chains that keep us captive, “Undoing chains means calling things what they are. It means that we pour out and also that we’re honest when we’re running dry.”


This is #19 in the series 31 Days of Letting Go. You can read the collective here. If you are a writer, I invite you to link up any post you’ve written on the theme of letting go in the comments today. Subscribe to receive the series in your inbox or feed by adding your address in the side bar under Follow Redemptions Beauty.


Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. eloranicole

    Yeah…this is good. While I didn’t expect publishing to be a magic pill, I was anticipating some level of “difference” – since the release of my novel the only difference I’ve noticed is my tendency to grab it all back and claim to know how to fix things when I really have no idea. Turns out, I am still me, dealing with the same issues, struggling with the same questions as before. And this is a good thing.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Elora, so glad to have you weigh in here as an author. Appreciate your wise words from your own experience. Thank you.

  2. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    I think it is the same with anything we want in life. Once we get it, we are on to the next moment. So true that Jesus is our fulfillment. At the same time, I am praying for writing doors to open, to see a dream soar to provide financially as well… It’s nice to hear from editors telling me they love my submissions and want to hold them for many months (which keeps happening and staying on hold)…but I keep praying, Lord – I need these doors to open all the way. It is a conundrum…keeping that desire under His leading… Thought provoking post.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I know how I’ve looked to people and places for that provision and now I’m just throwing up my hands, being faithful to what is in front of me and trying to get out of His way. I just can’t DO enough. And the very thing I think is going to be the “it” thing is often not it at all.

      • Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

        Yep, got that right! 🙂 My hands are up in the air right now… Glad He sees more than we do…

  3. Diana Trautwein

    Elora nailed it up there. We are still…us. Same relationships, same commitments, same mixed motives, same fears and hang-ups, same personal besetting sins. And hungering for public acclaim or recognition or whatever the heck it is we strive so hard to find – well, it’s not going to fill any of them holes, that is for certain sure. Good words from Lauren.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Amen Diana. I’m trying to live into the me he created, just that, and let go of the rest. It’s hard work sometimes.

  4. Jennifer Camp

    Shelly, I am holding on to this. It is all comes down to knowing who we are in Him, doesn’t it? And any way I try to go and make myself more worthy, more lovable, more . . something, I come up parched and dry. Thank you for sharing this here. I am so grateful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, it really does. And even when we think we have it all figured out He is faithful to show we really don’t. I’m on my knees daily remembering it.

  5. lborange

    She said that during the panel discussion too, and you know, that was one of my biggest takeaways from the weekend.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I didn’t realize that Laura. Thanks for telling me. She is so generous with who she is, in a surprising way that is a gift.

  6. ro elliott

    what great advise…and yes…to look wholly to Him first and foremost for our validation…true but hard. And sweet friend… was startled when I scrolled down…you are kind…blessings~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad to be able to connect with you on Facebook now too Ro. Happy to share your wisdom here.

  7. consolationofmirth

    It’s what any of us want: to be thought clever, loved, and adored. I find that I pay the least attention to the One who adores me most, in those moments when I’m caught up in “recognition neediness.” *sigh* All’s grace. A new day. Mercy. Lovely words, friend.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Heather. Sighing with you and thankful for forgiveness and the mercy of a new day.

  8. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    I’ve been reading this last week about trying to identify my true self–my unique self, created by God for his purpose–in relationship to God. That need/desire for recognition is one of the things that keeps me from coming to him. When Jesus stayed behind at the temple, worrying his parents, his response was, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” This is what I’m praying about as I sit here tapping on keys on the other side of the screen. What is the business the Father would have me do? That’s the only thing that matters–that, and knowing that I am deeply loved by him.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Whatever you are reading sounds wonderful Nancy. I would love to know what it is.

  9. Emma

    Shelly, it was so lovely to connect with you again on facebook. I am touched that you have shared my thoughts on letting go, my journey has been realising what I have been holding onto, in many cases too tightly, thank you for the prompting, I am grateful. Emma.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad you linked your story. I really loved it, especially love it thinking about you living in the UK, where my heart resides. My husband leaves in a week for England and I’m so sad I can’t go with him.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks for coming back and leaving it Pam.

  10. wynnegraceappears

    Ahh,sigh.Hmm, I am pondering at your words. Can you hear me ponder, friend. I am linking up my post Peace In A Sea Of Change, where I wrestle, and its not all pretty, with change. And I’m releasing the paddles, oars, and motor over to HIM. But knowing me I am holding on to the rope, or is it a thread. Anchoring my soul to Him. Loving your series, can you tell?


    • Redemption's Beauty

      Elizabeth, it blesses me to know that you are reading, that God is using it any way is a gift, really. And I’m right there with you, pulling out the oar I brought for just in case. 🙂

  11. Sandra Heska King

    Sigh… I wish I’d had half of Lauren’s wisdom when I was her age. I wish I had half of Lauren’s wisdom at this age.

  12. Lori

    I love every post of your Shelly, you bless me with your words, and I love how Lauren Winner, writes, ever since Girl Meets God…..I wrote about letting go of how I felt this morning 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Lori, its been a blessing getting to know you in our Living the Story community. What a gift that is for me. I was introduced to Lauren with Girl Meets God. Read it when my kids were babies and I was sick and tempted to stay in bed longer so I could finish the book! Did you post what you wrote about letting go? If so, I’d love to read it.

  13. Jean Wise

    Wow . I want you to know I came here and reread this post several times. Your words/experience really resonated with me.

    “The need for recognition is an insatiable beast with a constant growling stomach.” ouch that is my tummy you are hearing.

    St John of the Cross had a prayer, Make me invisible, Lord. When I first heard that I thought he was crazy but the longer I am on this journey the more I know he is right and so is Lauren.

    Good thoughts. I will continue to pray and ponder.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh wow Jean, I’m so glad to know this resonated, that God used it to speak to you.

  14. Megan Willome

    Every published author I know has said virtually the same thing.

    My writing is very disposable (a monthly magazine). It keeps me humble. If I write something great, it’s gone in a month. If I write something terrible, it’s gone in a month. As Dena Dyer’s husband Carey once said to me, “You know, sometimes I like to pick up a magazine just to rest my eyes a little bit.” At your service, Carey.

    • Diana Trautwein

      LOVE this comment, Megan. What a great perspective. Thank you – forever and always.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think the same about blogging too. Very disposable, with a vast appetite.

  15. birthjoy

    Although I needed to hear the truth from Lauren and you and others about writing and being and God, what struck me most in this post was what you said at the end about the bird feeders. That resonated so deeply. I must check myself, regularly, and make sure that I am not getting swept away by the virtual world while simultaneously missing the world outside my window. That is what inspires my writing anyway. Not comments in my inbox or “Likes” on my FB page.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Well said Holly. It’s where I am in all of this. It’s so easy to get addicted to the immediate response we get from social networking but it can be a trap that holds one captive.

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