What My Book Has Taught Me

 

I finished this round of edits for ‘Hating Jeremy Walters’ on Saturday. WOOHOO!

It’s been about 3 years now since I first started working on this story, 7 months since I started this round of edits. And the process of writing HJW and this blog has taught me some pretty interesting stuff.

  1. How to step out in faith and rely on God for something I can’t do on my own.

In late May last year, I had 3 chapters of my second draft written. I’d taken a writing break for 6 months after burning out while trying to work full-time and write.

Then I got an email that I’d finaled in a competition, which announced the winner at a September writing conference in Dallas. It was a great chance to go to a conference and talk to agents, but I knew I’d need a finished book for that.

Which meant I had about 12 weeks to write 60,000 words and a book proposal.

I had never written half that fast before. I kinda expected my head to explode from stress after week 3. But God got it done.

2. Keep God at #1, don’t make success an idol

This is something that’s always been a tug-of-war for me. But this blog has really helped, first in processing my thoughts about it, and then as a practical example.

When I first wrote this blog, I put an effort into getting the word out there about it. I had about six times more readers than I did last week.

Then I put it on a hiatus, and when I took it up again this time, I decided not to ‘market’ it. I just didn’t have the time. Therefore, my readership is much smaller.

The thing is, I’ve enjoyed the process just as much this time, if not more. And that’s really helped me to see that while I’ll enjoy the process of trying to make my book as successful as possible, I’ll have just as much fun if I sell 500 copies or 50,000. It’s no reflection on me as a person, and if it didn’t sell a lot, it just means I’d try a different strategy next time.

3. Edits are not as terrible as they first appear.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re still terrible. But they are possible.

And when I got a looooong letter from a freelance editor telling me all the things that needed to change in my book, I wasn’t sure if it was  possible.

But again, trust in God and a lot of persistent effort got us there. And my book is so much better now because of it.

So, thanks for travelling with me on this journey! There’s still much further to go; Hating Jeremy Walters could need a lot more work, still. And then there’s the other three writing projects currently in a Hunger Games match for supremacy in my head. 🙂

But it feels like a victory every time I hit a milestone.

So, thanks for your support!

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A challenge to trust, remember the dance floor

the-sea-in-december

Mum challenged me with a question when I was worried about something over the weekend:

“How can you tell others to trust God when you can’t trust him in this circumstance?”

Snap!

She said it very nicely, but hit the nail right on the head.

It reminded me of this part of the Bible:

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:25-33 NIV

 

I have to admit, I start sinking all the time, so Mum’s reminder is a good one. If I’m telling others to trust, it’s nothing less than hypocritical to not trust God myself. Understandable, in some circumstances, but still hypocritical.

So, how do I trust?

For me, it always helps to listen to the song ‘Oceans’, by Hillsong United. This is the song that got that critical draft of my book done in just 10 weeks before the writing conference last year. Every time I freaked out (happened on average every 3 hours), I listened to it. And it reminds me that God is bigger than whatever problem I’m focusing on.

I also have some go-to Bible verses, (Is 40, Phil 4:6-7, Ps 139 and Ps 55 are favourites) and I remember what I learned from Daisy: whatever’s happening, God can and will use it for His glory.

And prayer makes a difference. On Sunday I remembered this post from 2014, and how I used to spend time with God on the dance floor. That post really defined my prayer life for at least six months, but in the two years since I slowly forgot about it.

I’m glad God reminded me. 🙂 It was a really special thing, still is.

What about you? What do you do when your trust is challenged?

Share in the comments below!

 

When Deadlines Are Giving Me a Heart Attack: A Journey of Faith Part IV

OK guys, I’m babysitting my little sister tonight, so I’m gonna make this short and sweet.

As I’ve said before, on Sunday I’m doing a talk at church. I’ve been writing it for weeks.

Correction: I’ve been re-writing it for weeks. I think tonight’s version is number 4 or 5.

I’ve also started my new job this week, my newsletter was due out at the start of the week, and I’ve got other stuff going on. The words for my church talk just wouldn’t flow. My internet broke. I was getting frustrated. I wanted to hit the panic button.

Problem was, this talk is about faith. Basically it’s an extended version of the post I did two weeks ago, How to Make the Fog Work for You: A Journey of Faith Part III.

So it would be a tad ironic if I hit the panic button.

Still, I came so close, at least two or three times.

Long story short, I took a deep breath, prayed for faith, remembered that God would provide what I needed…even if it was as I walked up the steps to deliver the talk.

Tonight I finished what is hopefully the last rough draft.

The Big Guy came through again. 🙂

How to Make the Fog Work for You: A Journey of Faith Part III

Fog Forest

What does it mean to ‘have faith’? And how does that look in everyday life?

This has been God’s challenge to me in the past few weeks, as I debated over a big decision regarding my job. I’ve been pretty faithless during this entire  process (I’d rather eat a cactus than search for another job), and even though I knew my mindset wasn’t ideal, I didn’t think it was a major issue.

Then a friend asked me to speak at church, and gave me a topic: How did Jesus do life?

During my study of the Book of Luke, I noticed that when Jesus commended people, it was usually about their faith. In fact, faith seemed to get him pretty excited. And then I remembered a verse from Hebrews 11:

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb 11:6 NIV)

Ouch. This was a bigger problem than I’d given it credit for. When the Israelites were faithless and didn’t believe God would deliver the Promised Land to them, they lost the privilege of entering it. Instead they wandered the desert for the rest of their lives and it was their children who saw the fulfillment of God’s promise.

I don’t want that to be me. Hence this series on faith.

As I work on my attitude and get ready to give my talk at church, I’ve been studying the Bible’s most well-known chapter on faith: Hebrews 11.

The whole thing is a description of faith, and a bunch of examples of what faith looked like in the lives of people in the Old Testament. I’ve been making a list.

Here’s my two favorites for this week:

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going… Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations – the City designed and built by God. (Heb 11:8-10 MSG)

Faith looks like: Obeying even when you don’t know where you’re going.

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. (Heb 11:11-12 NIV)

Faith looks like: Believing God’s promise, even when it looks impossible.

I like the first one because right now, as I start a new career, I feel like I have no idea where I’m going. Yeah, on the outside it looks like I do. This new job is full-time, more secure, better paying and holds greater opportunities than my two old part-time gigs.

But I didn’t expect to get it. I expected to work part-time jobs and focus my energy on becoming an author. I expected God to use me through my role as a mentor–something I’ve had to give up to take the job. While this new opportunity is awesome, it’s unexpected, and I don’t quite know where I’m going with it.

But Abraham was in the same position, and having faith panned out pretty well for him. He fulfilled God’s purposes for him, and came to know God in a deeper way. Can you imagine what a shame it would have been if he had’ve said, “No thanks God, I think I’ll stay where I am”?

And then the second part takes it to a whole new level. Abraham trusted God when He promised something–even something that seemed so far out of reach. I have trouble believing God when He promises me reasonable things. I think I would’ve struggled a little if God told me I’d have a baby when I’m in my 70s and my husband’s 100!!!

But again, look at what Abraham would’ve missed out on if he had no faith.

In my position right now, I feel a little like I’m walking through a thick fog, feeling my way around. I’m making progress, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.

But looking at this from Abraham’s perspective, the fog might not be an obstacle. It might be an opportunity. He didn’t need to see where he was going; he needed faith.

So do I.

 

 

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