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No "Little Things" in Writing


In writing and publishing, there is no such thing as "little things." Everything and anything can be important in a writer's quest for publication. In fact, it's those "little things" that often make the difference between getting published and not getting published.


The Bible says quite a bit about "little things." For example, it warns us of the "little foxes that spoil the vine" (Song of Solomon 2:5). And it tells us not to despise (i.e., to take lightly or even to ignore altogether) the "day of small things" (Zech. 4:10). But perhaps the most cogent biblical example is Christ's parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-29.


In the parable, the landowner gave each of three servants different amounts of money (in denominations called talents) over which they were to be stewards during a long trip he was planning. He expected them to use those monies, regardless of their precise amounts, wisely, and he would check on how they had managed it upon his return. (By the way, I did a little research at biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:14-30 and learned that one talent at that time was the equivalent of "20 years of a day laborer's wage," or about $500,000 in today's money--not an insignificant amount! We're not talking peanuts here!)


When the landowner came back a long time later, he called on his servants to present an account of how they had used his funds during his absence. The first, who had received five talents (about $2.5 million in today's money) had doubled the money, as had the second man, who initially had received two talents (about $1 million today). But the third man simply returned with the same amount he had received at the initial distribution. He had buried the money, I guess to keep it safe and secure.

Which man do you think got rewarded and which got reprimanded?


The moral, of course, is that one should do the best he can with what he's given. We all have different degrees of ability, and we all have different opportunities to use that ability. But we all have the responsibility to use whatever we have to advantage, doing the best we can, even if we think it's relatively small and unimportant.


Every investment involves risk. But we are to use our talents and abilities regardless of those risks. The greatest returns come from investments that involve the greatest risks, both in finance and in writing.


Do you want to be published? Then you must take the risk of doing to the work, often not knowing if it will produce results, and submit the finished product--at the risk of having it rejected. (You can read more about this risk at https://www.dennislpeterson.com/post/let-the-chips-fall.)


But as you work toward earning the reward on that investment in your writing career, be aware of and pay close attention to the "little things" in the process. Such things as investing time in studying the markets, matching your writing to the market's writers guidelines (style, length, audience, etc.), addressing your query to the right editor, choosing the best words for the meaning and response you intend, proofing your copy closely, spelling the editor's name correctly. Attention to such details often make the difference between acceptance and publication on one hand and rejection and continued failure on the other.


Faithfulness in the "little things" will, given enough time ("paying your dues"), produce that return on your investment. And that is really all anyone can expect.


Remember that it's from the little acorn that the massive oak tree grows. And as Ben Franklin famously said, "Little strokes fell great oaks."


Keep an eye out for those "little foxes that spoil the vine." And do your best with what you have.




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©2020 by Dennis L. Peterson