My Journey as a Writer
"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify."
- John 15:26b, 27a -
- John 15:26b, 27a -
“I feel such a failure," I told my guardian angel. "I have not touched the manuscript since last year. Two weeks after, I'm still on the same page."
“Pulling your hair again? There are more silver strands in there than I remember."
“I know. I know. Was too busy to pluck it out. Now they're invading my scalp. I may need to dye my hair. I don't want to go that route."
"Then don't. Seems you're wanting to do things you don't need and neglecting to do the essentials."
"You're speaking in riddles again. Spit out."
"Please, my lord," I said.
"Where did you leave off?"
"Chapter one needs a rework based on the judges' and editor's feedback."
"That was last November," my angel said.
"We traveled for Thanksgiving." I reminded him. "Had to plan the itinerary, and there was the college application deadline for my daughter, you know, FAFSA and CSS profile application. Then Christmas snuck up on me, with decorating, cooking and entertaining guests. I had to be flexible."
"And your decorations are stored. The guests are gone."
"And my creative mind is as dry as my chaffing winter skin."
"Is this from disappointment and discouragement again?"
I sighed. "I just don't know when this will ever end, this constant revision. Write for the smartest reader and waste not explaining using dialogues, then I get this feedback from one judge that he doesn't get it, whereas the other two did. I don't think it has anything to do with being smart or not. I think it's based on where people are coming from, their background and experience. I got the lowest score from him. How do I strike a balance?"
"What do you mean?"
"Your purpose is attached to the audience you are meant to write for. You're not designed to write for everybody."
"Choose my audience?"
"Your audience had been chosen for you from the moment you were designed by the Creator. Your voice was created specifically for that audience."
"Who is my target audience?"
"You will figure out with your style of writing-- where you naturally settle, without much effort. It will be a journey of discovery."
"Why a journey? Why can't you tell me upfront and be done with it?"
"Because your life on earth is a training ground for the kind of life you will live in eternity. Be happy with what you've accomplished this week."
"Getting back on track with your diet, your exercise, your house projects. Even getting approved for Google ads in your blog site."
What my angel said lifted my spirit somehow. I forgot about those accomplishments. And more.
#1 I got a platform where I regularly publish devotionals and blogs.
#2 Got my feet wet by attending a writer's conference, hiring an editor, becoming a member in a local writers' chapter, submitting entries for writing competitions, and even pitching my work.
#3 Established a writing routine in the past months (until the holidays disrupted it, groan).
#4 Refurnished my home office and made it conducive for writing. (My husband and I felt like Santa's elves, cramming, nights before Christmas as we hammered on the Ikea cabinets.)
"Celebrate your small victories. You're not Wonder Woman."
I remembered the quote from The Word Among Us January 2018 edition.
If we focus only on the things we have yet to do, we risk losing sight of the progress we have already made.
"How come other authors can do it? Like Cara Putman. She is Wonder Woman, according to James Rubart," I said.
I had been listening to the 2017 ACFW conference audio recording, especially those sessions I had missed because I left early to pick up my girls from school. Thanks to the winter weather I was able to run indoors and listen at the same time, hoping to rekindle inspiration. "I think she's more of a multi-purpose cooker," I told my guardian angel, "with the pressure cooker setting in constant use. Whereas I'm a Crockpot."
"A slow cooker—" he said.
"No need to rub it in."
"But you know slow cookers tend to produce more flavorful and tender stews—"
"Which I can also do with a pressure cooker."
"To each her own. Whatever works better for you and gives you more balance and joy. Everything that you do must cater to the health of your body, mind, and spirit. That's where the salvation of your soul lies."
"I guess I need to evaluate last year's goals. What worked? What didn't?"
"Adapt and discard. Last year you dreamed of a writer's life and worked towards that dream."
Dream 2017. That was the title of my spiritual journal.
"This year," he said, "build on the foundations of your writer's life, the life you want to live for the next several decades. What kind of life would that be? Remember you want not just a writer's life, you want an abundant one."
"A healthy, wealthy, happy me." That was my goal when I embarked on this journey.
"You're not just in this for the money."
"I want to create a writer's life, not just write for a living."
"It has to weave seamlessly into your spiritual and family life and not be a deterrent to both."
"Of course. I don't want this to become my mammon."
"Then design your writer's life the way God wants it."
Design 2018. That's going to be the title of my spiritual journal.
"Are you a Christian writer or just a writer writing for the Christian market? Do you pray before you work? Do you depend on the Holy Spirit for inspiration or do you rely more on caffeine?"
"I got a formula!"
"These are the three things that make me feel rich and alive. Pray. Run. Read. Whenever I do all three, I become productive in my writer's life."
"Pray + Exercise + Learn = Write. Why don't you make an infographic and stick it on your whiteboard."
And the infographic flashed in my mind. I can work on that.
"Adapt that. What other things worked for you?”
"Attending the writer's conference worked. (Read here on my ACFW conference testimonial). The monthly ACFW chapter meetings did too. That topic yesterday was spot on--All You Need To Know About Taxes by Paula Gibbons, CPA. She even recommended we need to write our business plan. I feel like God is preparing me to generate substantial income from this endeavor. It's taking shape, this dream. Design 2018." I waved my hand in the air. "I wonder about Critique groups and beta-readers. What would work for me?"
"You'll never know unless you try."
"I hate doing weeknight meetings. Those are the only times my family spends time together."
"Virtual communities exist," he said.
"Lead me to one. Please."
"Perhaps. Perhaps not."
I heaved another sigh. Less is more.
"Remember Teresa of Avila?" he said.
"Yes." I knew what he was getting at. "She'd rather spin her wheel than write the books she was made to write out of obedience."
"Treat your writer's life that way, and you shall reap in abundance."
"Welcome to the Dark Night of the Soul," he said.
I cringed. This was the title of the book I started reading by St. John of the Cross, a Carmelite mystic, and Doctor of the Church. It was about purgation and purification from all earthly desires and motives to achieve union with God.
"You do want your foundations to be built on rock not sands, right?" my angel reminded me.
"Then be careful about the design, make sure it is solid as a rock," he said.
"Now I know why I can't seem to pick up from where I left off. You don't want me to be building on loose foundations."
"Spot on. Didn't take you long to figure it out."
Yes. I smiled. Thirty minutes on the stationary bike, sweating it out with joy. Pray + Exercise got me writing. Beat that slow cooker!
"Remember, you are called to be a light in this darkness, salt in this blandness. Give joy. Make people laugh. But do not let them forget. When people escape into your world, let them see the real world. Instead of forgetting, remind them of what is true and real through your fantasy."
Post scriptum: That evening, I discovered that Realm Makers recently launched an online critique group. Thank you, my guardian angel.
He immediately reminded me of the mistakes beginners often commit using parallelism from The Dark Night of the Soul, on beginner's mistakes in the spiritual journey.
"Avoid these mistakes at all cost, and you shall benefit much from the critique group."
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