Writing Year 8 of 10 – 3 Reasons to Stop a Project: Amish Millionaire, with Sara Nolt and Emily Smucker

If you have trouble listening to the podcast, try listening on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or PocketCast.

Congrats to Marlene Graber of Wisconsin who won yesterday’s giveaway. She describes her spring project as follows:

Our annual spring project is to pay our dues, or better yet, our commitment to keeping our two miles of Adopt-a-Highway ditches clean. So it took Lewi and Russell and me two afternoons to fill about 10 trash bags, and now we enjoy our trips into town much more! Helping keep our community beautiful!!

Isn’t that the neatest thing? I’ve known Marlene since my childhood, and I’m so proud of her and her family for cleaning ditches.

And now… those projects that never succeed!

Trust me, the heart memoir I told you of earlier is not the only piece of work languishing in my files. I have a hunch that most authors have as many unpublished manuscripts as published ones.

Why should you let a project go?

I went through this recently with the agent who wanted me to write Amish Millionaire. He wanted a book about wealthy Amish businessmen, and their stories of success. Marnell and I have quite a few connections, so I set about to interview some Amish men and write up a proposal.

Sara Nolt

My cousin Sara accompanied me to interview a man close to her area. Sara is an author as well. She writes articles for Christian Light Education’s Homeschooling Today periodical and Daughters of Promise magazine. She also writes a blog called Dewdrops of Joy. Check out Sara’s book Overcoming Inferiority. This inspiring read is 4×6 inches – super cute and fits in your purse! Sara recounts her testimony of grappling with inferior feelings and finding freedom in Christ.

So. We were going to interview a single Amish businessman. This man’s log frame construction crew helped to assemble the Ark in Kentucky. He was perfect. What could go wrong?

In order to place people in the book, I would have to have some proof of their financial status, so I came up with a way to collect information anonymously. It wasn’t a bad system and had worked previously. But this particular man wanted nothing to do with it, and I hadn’t even asked him if the title was okay! I admired his values, even though they ruined my plans.

Just to confirm my hunch, I called Sara.

Reason One: I have to go against my conscience

“Do you agree that he would not have wanted to be in the book? What do you remember from that conversation?”

Between Sara and I, we remembered these things. (Well, that and the three robins that flew into my borrowed car and Sara’s husband John had to try to clean it up! This event is commemorated in the “How Not To Live” $3 download which I’ve posted below.)

  1. He feels that financial comparison can be a source of contention among brothers in the church. Not a chance he would want to be categorized in a book called Amish Millionaire.
  2. Not only does he tithe his money, he tithes his time. This man cares about the details of serving God.
  3. If he feels something was not healthy, he utterly avoids it. He does not read fiction, feeling that it is not worth his time.

It simply wasn’t going to work. I’m sure I could have found some Amish men happy to be included in such a book. But would those men embody the values of this Amish man? Probably not. The agent did not seem willing to change the title, either.

Giving up the new opportunity stretched me. But it wasn’t worth it, and I’m glad I didn’t push ahead.

And thanks for going with me Sara, robins and all!

Emily Smucker

I next called Emily Smucker from the other side of the country. Emily had also been asked to write the book Amish Millionaire.

Emily writes a blog called The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots at emilysmucker.com. Her book, My True Story of Chronic Illness and Missing Out On Life came out in 2009. She and her sister have recently started a podcast Quarantined with Jenny and Emily. Now, Emily is writing a book about her year spent moving from one Mennonite community to the next. This book is scheduled to release on September 16, 2020. She is also editing a book on writing and publishing for her mom, Dorcas Smucker, an avid blogger and writer, as you probably know. She recently wrote an article for Daughters of Promise magazine, and is slated for a monthly column on the Rebelution website, which encourages teens to rebel against low expectations.

Reason Two: You Don’t Have the Passion To Carry Through

Emily confirmed that she had considered the Amish Millionaire project. She knew she could probably make some money on it, and she did need money. But she did not feel passionate about doi

“Writing about this year of travel is my own story, and so it’s something I’m passionate about it,” she says. “So if I run into roadblocks or feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or whatever, I have that passion behind it to power me through.”

Emily also agreed with Sara and I that sensitivity is important when writing books.

“I feel like if it gives you this, ‘Oh my, is this going to be okay’ feeling, it’s not something you should be pursuing.”

Reason Three: the Story Could Offend Another Culture

I discussed this with Sara as well. She had wanted to write about her family’s time in Ghana, but felt it could be offensive. Emily echoes this concern.

“I think the important thing is if you’re telling a story about a culture that’s not your own, you really, really, really have to be careful,” Emily says. “If you’re telling your own story, and your own story offends people, well, that’s your story. It’s almost like you’re right. I feel like if it’s someone else’s culture, you need to handle that with care, because it belongs to them in a sense.”

For short projects, it’s okay to experiment. Emily says she spent some time doing marketing writing. She wrote about gazebos and three car garages and mini barns. It was not something she was passionate about. But she was willing to try it because it was a small project.

Resurrecting Something Later

Yes, projects can be resurrected or recycled! Emily recently pulled out a fiction piece from college to submit to a new magazine The Leaf. She also has started a Patreon page, where fans can support her work. On this page, she writes controversial pieces that she does not want to go viral. But she’s also found it to be a good opportunity to share interesting and random pieces she’s written in the past.

Thanks Emily!

Remember the most important quality of a writer or creative? Patience! It is very crucial to develop the muscle of always trying again. Just because something is not right for moment, doesn’t mean it won’t ever be right.

Grand Opening Specials

Hey! PLEASE let me know if there are any problems with any of the orders I’ve sent your way. If there is damage or if your order does not arrive, email me at Katrina@500-words.com. As you know, I’m not too experienced with this yet. Also, we have had mail stolen off our porch in the past. I think I’ve kept a good eye on the outgoing mail, but still – let me know if there are any problems!

Today, I’m featuring the $3 instant download collection. These downloads consist of popular blogs on three topics: hospital stories, mental health, and humorous and crazy things I’ve done. Keep in mind:

  • 10% off with code 10YEARS
  • I will enter you into drawing for the $100 cash prize
  • No shipping! Just read on your computer or other device. Or you can print them out!

Tomorrow is a big day! I will be speaking with Rachael Lofgren, fellow TGS author of eight books, on the topic of digging characters out of history. We have one more trivia, which will be from Captain Garrison. Also, the second $100 cash prize drawing! Anyone who has read or purchased Captain Garrison can leave a comment to enter. See you then!

The Amish man shows us blueprints for the Ark.

7 thoughts on “Writing Year 8 of 10 – 3 Reasons to Stop a Project: Amish Millionaire, with Sara Nolt and Emily Smucker”

  1. Yes!! I read Captain Garrison, and oh what a delight! I really enjoyed it and learned many new words as well- like all the fishing equipment and such… LOL

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      Thank you for the comment but I want to make sure you understand that the drawing is tomorrow not today. Come back tomorrow and leave a comment on that blog to enter the drawing for the $100 cash prize.

  2. You’re getting better and better at these podcasts and I really think you should consider continuing when the 10 days are up!

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      Ha! Well thanks, but the rest of my life has basically ground to a halt!

  3. This post was interesting to me as I considered why you didn’t continue on with the project “Amish millionaire”. I remember you writing about this decision and how it struck a cord with me. Not all good ideas are “good” ideas and that can be applied in numerous situations. Did I miss the post where you and your sisters talked about your Mother?

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      Hi Sheila, it was the very first post and podcast of this series. It was posted with a picture of my mom and I and the book On the Winning Side.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top

Never Miss An Update!

* indicates required