That is the question.
I’m a firm believer that if we don’t have a big dream we’re striving toward, then we’re just kind of drifting through life. That’s why I made a bucket list back in 2008 when my cousin’s son was diagnosed with cancer. That’s why I put publishing a novel at the top of that list. And that’s why I started working toward that goal in the summer of 2009. Five years later, I have two novels published by Curiosity Quills, a small press, with the last installment of my 18 Things trilogy due in January 2015.
I thought waiting for it to happen would be the hardest part. If I could’ve put my dream in a microwave and made it happen in 30 seconds, I would have. But that’s not how most dreams work. Like most writers, I endured lots of discouragement while agents, editors, and even friends and family members told me it wasn’t going to happen. They weren’t mean about it. They all thought they knew best. But it wasn’t their opinion that mattered to me the most. I’m the one who has to live with my decisions when I lay my head on the pillow at night. If I gave up, what kind of example would that be to my kids and the students I teach every day, who I tell every day, DON’T GIVE UP! THAT VICTORY YOU NEED IS JUST RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER! *shakes pom poms* Sure, I had my doubts from time to time, but I learned to tune out the haters. I knew the path to publishing wasn’t paved with rainbows, unicorns, and puppies. I also knew God would make it happen when the time was right. And he did!
But then I discovered I was wrong (happens occasionally–hahaha). The hardest part wasn’t the 3 years I waited to get a publishing contract, the hardest part has been trying to juggle my teaching job, my writing career, being a wife to three needy children (yes, I counted my hubs as a child, lol–LOVE him though), volunteering at church, bible study and book club, cleaning and cooking (oh, who am I kidding?).
Here’s another thing I firmly believe: EVERYTHING you have is a gift from God, including your talents and abilities. And why would God give us these things if he didn’t want us to use them for his glory?
The thing is though, I NEVER EVER EVER want my own family to think my writing is more important than them, and when I’m in my writing cave (AKA dining room) chained to my laptop every summer, spring, and winter break, typing out what the voices in my head tell me to, I know that’s how they feel sometimes. So I told them after I publish my last book under my contract, I’d give up publishing for a while. My hubs and 10yo cheered (my almost 14yo said I should do what I want-she won’t have much time for me when starting high school in the fall anyway, which of course, made me crawl up like a baby and cry in the corner for an hour while shoving donuts in my mouth). My editor laughed. “Just keep telling yourself you’ll be able to do that.”
Anyone a fan of American Ninja Warrior? Last summer and this summer, there’s been one girl to make it past the qualifying rounds. Both were gymnasts, the one from last year was a trapeze artist. That’s what my struggle reminds me of, a trapeze artist. It’s an analogy I came across in my daily devotional one day:
There’s a moment of truth where she swings out to catch the bar that’s swinging toward her. But in order to reach the bar, she has to let go of the one she is swinging on. If she doesn’t let go, she just swings back to where she started. But if she lets go, there’s a split second in time where she’s hanging in mid-air, thirty feet above the ground, and holding onto absolutely nothing.
That’s what faith looks like. Is giving up my dreams of being a professional author a lack of faith, or an act of obedience as I commit more time to my family? What’s more important? Faith or obedience?
This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja Warrior, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us the first Wednesday of every month as we release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic *shoots hand in the air*