on reading, writing, and wrestling with words

I don't know if you're a writer or an artist of any sort. I hope you are because it's a wonderful thing to find beauty in the inexplicable. Science, to me, is a kind of art too since it stems from the mysterious mind of our Creator. But that's another conversation for another time. 

The difficult thing for me as a writer is I often stumble into a phrase or description that I simply cannot pull myself away from, either because it's so incredibly striking or because I don't like it but I'm not sure what I don't like about it. This is especially true when it comes to my own work. I'll stare at a sentence for half an hour, trying to rearrange it in my head. It will be grammatically correct. But I'll debate its worth anyway. I'll think, "There's nothing technically wrong with this sentence, but it sucks anyway." I'd like to think this means I'm a good writer, but mostly I believe it means I'm a complete and total waste because I wrote a sentence that doesn't change the tilt of the world's axis.

I can be pretty hard on myself, and the comparison game is one I play often.

When I left the Atlanta Writer's Conference, I was on a high that nothing short of an international disaster  could have ruined. And when I think about those two days, I relive those blissful emotions. But then age-old doubts creep in because, for any person, once you've reached one milestone the next step is always another milestone. 

I got an idea and started writing.

I finished my manuscript.

I edited (and edited and edited) my manuscript. 

I signed up for the conference.

I paid my fees.

I sent in my materials.

I practiced my pitch and edited the book some more.

I met with agents.

I received the most fantastic news of my life.

I sent in my manuscript to the requesting agent (and found mistakes after I sent it in...gah!).

And now...I wait. Hoping she'll love something about it enough to make her choose me. 

Me, of all people.

There's always something else to do. Something else to wait for. And the problem with accolades is that you never want to do worse than the best you've done before. The lovely agent who requested my work compared the voice in my novel to that of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, which was a #1 NYT Bestseller (and is, indeed, a powerhouse novel...I bought it after the conference because I wanted to know exactly what she was comparing me to).  I have her letter to me framed next to my desk. I look at it and smile every time I walk into our office. It helps me remember what I can do. It gives me courage and confidence to keep writing. I remember telling my mother that part of the reason why I was so excited about the conference was because it was an affirmation. When I say affirmation, I'm not just talking about worldly affirmation. I'm talking about the fire God lit in my heart for the life-altering power of words.

Hearing my sample pages being compared to John Green was more than receiving a simple compliment. It was as if I was pursuing the ministry God had called me to, and that moment was real joy for me. I heard Him say, "Yes! I'm so proud of you. Keep going. This is how I'm going to use you for My glory."

Which is why I want to do well. I don't want to have fame and fortune. I used to want those things when I was young and modeling and trying out for commercials and singing and doing anything I could to get attention. Now the idea of being well-known scares the bejesus out of me.

I don't want to be known. I want my work to be known. For how it changes hearts. For how it leaves someone breathless. For how it shifts from person to person and makes people reconsider what they thought they knew.

I want my God to be known. 

I think I'm mostly afraid of what not being known, and not succeeding at being an author, will do for my ministry. I'm not sure I know how to do anything else except write anymore. There are a million other interests I have that I could pursue. I mean, have you seen my Pinterest boards? But the one thing I love and excel at is writing. God made me that way. I don't want it to go to waste. I don't want to regret what I didn't do for Him.

So, here I sit, knowing that my novel is in the hands of a person who could completely transform my future. I'm praying that she sees the work I've done, despite the book's flaws, and believes in what I'm trying to say enough to take a risk on me. 

But I'm also believing in what I know about my God. I know He has called each of us to a specific purpose, and this is mine. I can't be afraid of failure any more. If I'm pursuing His glory in the avenue He's laid out for me, I will never fail.

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