Last month I held one of my favorite writer friends captive in my car and drove south.
(Now, that is a story starter!!)
Seriously, though, she came willingly. We took this journey together, sharing, encouraging, being truthful … as only real friends can be.
She, a veteran; me, a first-timer. Still, it worked.
I had always wanted to find out more about this American Christian Fiction Writers group, but never thought I was good enough to attend. I discovered, though, that I am at the point in my life where I can’t not take advantage of opportunities to grow and develop the writing. Birthdays are good for that, you know.
I prayed. I paid the conference fee. I prayed again. I doubted. I prayed. Eventually, I packed.
And the conference was AMAZING. I was in the same rooms and hallways and dining area as great Christian writers like Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, Steven James, Ann Gabhart, Hallee Bridgeman, Yvonne Lehman, Debbie Macomber, Liz Curtis Higgs.
On the first night, I attended a spotlight session on a publishing house. As I sat in a chair, waiting for the session to begin, I happened to turn around and introduce myself to the woman who sat behind me. She had all kinds of stickers and pins and fancy stuff on her name tag. She was SOMEBODY.
“What do you write?”
“Well, I am a freelance journalist,” I said. I smiled. I tried to maintain eye contact.
“Then why are you here?”
All the crushing doubt slammed into me again. I had vowed not to cry unless I was squirreled away in some remote bathroom, and the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is ginormous so it would take me a while to actually find the bathroom. I decided to roll with it in the only way I knew how.
“I don’t know,” I said. Inhale. Exhale. “But God knows and I trust Him.”
I told her how nice it was to meet her, then faced front again. I folded my hands on top of my binder and slid a real, true smile back onto my face.
You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)
I asked my daughter, Emily, to write this verse in her prettiest handwriting on a blank piece of copy paper. She did and I slid it into the clear plastic pocket on the front of my binder. Each time I took out the binder, the Spirit reminded me of Proverbs and writing His word on the tablet of my heart.
And some amazing things happened during this conference. I learned about women’s fiction and what the boundaries are for this writing. I learned how to fix writing problems. I met some really cool people. I learned how to stop staring with open mouth at best selling authors. I learned about suspense and expectations and tension and engaging the culture. I learned there is beauty and God’s reach in our words if we give them up and out for His glory.
I learned my family can survive without me, which is not a bad thing at all.
And the craziest thing happened. I handed my business card to some random guy who knew some random person who knew a woman who needed a ghost writer. Within an hour of my return home on that Sunday after the conference, I was on the phone with the woman. Please note, this assignment would be nonfiction, my forte.
The woman had a few reality TV shows, one on HGTV and one on Lifetime. She had an incredible story. The memoir she needed a ghost writer for had already piqued the interest of two publishing houses, and the option for a second book was already in the works.
This could be big.
I prepared the proposal. I chose writing samples. I prayed over the next two days. I considered the yesses and the nos I would need to line up for the next three months or so to be able to complete this project and take care of my family’s needs. I participated in conference calls and sent and received emails.
I landed in the top three potential ghost writers for this project.
Then, an email. From me. I rescinded my proposal.
You see, while the story was good, while the professional push could have been good, it wasn’t for God’s glory. It wasn’t great.
If I’ve learned anything over the past almost-47 years, I’ve learned that for me to love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, the end result of what I write/teach/say/do has to be that God is honored and glorified.
While this project could have netted us some money for now and some money for later, it would not have honored and glorified the God whom I serve, in the way I have vowed to serve Him.
So, I’m back in a chair in a room, my hands folded on the top of my binder, Isaiah 26:3 written on a tablet in my heart, and the words rushing from my everywhere inside, “God knows and I trust Him.”
I slide a real, true smile back onto my face and I wait for what He knows.