Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lessons from the Trail

In future blog posts, I will share more insights about prayer that I learned in my quest to better understand it. Today, however, I’m continuing to share my writing journey.
Writing is a new work God is doing in my old age. It’s a huge blessing to me and I can only hope it will bless others along the way too. I thank Him daily for opening these doors, even though as is often the case, it was born out of a difficult and even dark time in my life.
I have a close friend named Susan Siami, whom I love to quote. I find her spiritual insights so inspirational. She once said, “I am so committed to my own agenda. And that agenda is zero pain for myself and those I love. God’s agenda is far greater than mine. He is producing a work in me and through me and often pain is the very means He uses to produce it.”
That certainly was the tool God used to begin my writing journey.
In 2009, I attended the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference, hoping to learn how to get my manuscript on prayer published. I came home thinking that goal was unachievable, at least at the time. I could self-publish but I had learned three things: 1) I knew very little about the publishing world, even after the conference, 2) I have editing issues. 3) I didn’t have a platform
I now know that I can pay an editor, and hire out other parts of the publishing process. And in fact I am in the process of self-publishing a small devotional book co-written with a friend. But at the time, getting a book out seemed impossible.
Writing still intrigued me. Actually, it did more than that; it pulled like a magnet. I had words I wanted to share and had spent the previous four years honing my ability to put them down on paper. (Learning to write on a computer came later. My 60,000+ word manuscript and my first few articles and devotions were all hand-written and transcribed onto a computer.)
The wheels started turning in my head. If I could start getting small pieces published, then I would be scratching that writing itch while building a platform too. A platform, for those of you who are not writers, was defined to me as the number of people who would read something simply because it was written by you. For me at the time that number was a big zero. Well, my mom and dad would probably read it, so maybe that number was more like two. J
So, I sat at my kitchen table one day, shortly after returning from the writer’s conference, sharing my thoughts with my daughter. I sheepishly told her about the great workshop on how to freelance small pieces and confessed my desire to try my hand at it. But who did I think I was fooling? I was not a writer.
My daughter looked up from her orange juice and said, “You know mom, the average American reader only reads at a sixth grade level.”

I burst out laughing and replied, “I can write at that level!”
And I sat down immediately and began transcribing a devotion I had hand-written in my journal onto my computer to send to The Upper Room. That devotion, titled, “The Day of Small Things” based on the question posed in Zechariah 4:10, “For who has despised the day of small things?” became the first piece I ever submitted. It was not the first piece I ever had published, because it takes a very long time from submission to publication with some devotional magazines. It was published a year and a half later in the February, 2011 issue of The Upper Room.

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