Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Calling Myself a Writer

Last year, I decided to surrender my fears and finally start writing fiction--my heart's desire and (I believe) my calling in life. (Read "Snow and Other Updates".) So, with some accountability, I started planning, writing, editing, etc. I wrote about 20,000 words over three or four months. And then... I just stopped.

I won't review 2010 again or bring up why I quit, but the bottom line is, I just quit. And in doing so, I walked away from my calling. Early this year (inspired by John Bevere's Extraordinary Life), Howell and I both spent some time in prayer--asking God to use us, to reveal to us our calling in marriage, and to help us be a blessing and an example to others. I feel like God has been so faithful in answering our hearts' desire and in placing encouraging people in our path. We don't exactly know what it means or looks like in the future--but we know and believe that He will give us an extraordinary marriage and that our marriage will be our ministry.

But in seeking vision for Howell and I as one, God showed me vision for myself too. Every time He spoke to me about my future or about vision, He kept repeating the same things:

"No dream has ever been too big for me. But you have to leap, you have to imagine, you have to trust.... Fear and insecurity immobilize your dreams" (February 10, 2011).

"...So dream big. Take risks. Ask for the impossible, and then sit in awe as I do it. I long to show you success. I long to amaze you with the things I would do for you. But you have to ask and not doubt. You have to leap and know that I will be waiting for you. You have to put your whole trust in me, unrestricted in any way" (February 24, 2011).

"...But to unlock the door to an extraordinary life, you have to tap into your passion, which is to write" (April 13, 2011).

I don't usually think of myself as a "slow" person, but it took nearly six months for me to start connecting the dots. Let's see, Lord, you want me to live an extraordinary life. You want me to leap, to risk, to dream, to trust. And you want me to tap into my passion. That seems pretty clear, huh?

So, this summer I've gotten serious about it again. My biggest excuse has always been time. But Lord, I just don't have time to write. Haven't you seen my schedule? I have to read, and study, and grade papers. When would I write? Then, I started listening to a podcast called Writing Excuses. It's fascinating (and usually funny)--but the biggest thing that jumped out to me was an episode about thinking of ourselves as writers, not as so-and-so who writes while also doing x, y, and z. They also made the comment that if time is an excuse, it just means you've given priority to something else, something that you've made more important than writing, something that's keeping you from being a writer instead of someone who writes.

It was like an "aha" moment for me. I believe (and have for some time) that God gifted me to write. But I don't call myself a writer. And because I've not made that a priority, I'm allowing other things to be more important that God's calling on my life. In short, it's disobedience.

So, after a long (but not-so-emotional) prayer time, I gave up those things that have become a priority over writing (namely, school, quals exam, etc.). I do trust in the Lord. I know that He holds my future and that it's a good future. Why, then, do I try to control my future instead of trusting in Him and trusting in what I know? And, in the end, I resolved to change my priorities, to be obedient to His calling, and to trust Him, whatever my future looks like.

That's where I am today. I started on my book again--and, in some ways, started over. I'm at 8,600 words. My goal is to write 75,000. This book may not be anything; it may not even be published. But I was struck by something John Bevere said in his Breaking Intimidation series. He said that he was not an over-night success, that he published four books before anyone wanted to read anything he had to say. But God had given him a charge--to write. And so he did. And when his writing didn't amount to much (at first), he just kept writing.

To me, that's where faith comes in. So, I'm writing this book. I think it's a pretty good story. I think it has some potential. But, whether it's successful or not, I will finish it. And I will write another.
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