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Pursuing Your Passion

I recently started another blog (mamainsanity.wordpress.com) focusing on parenthood and how crazy insane I feel at times trying (and failing!) to be a good Mom.  This post came from that blog but I thought it had relevance here too.  Enjoy!

 

I wish I had known when I was young that I would grow to love writing so much.  More than that, I wish those who’d recognized my talent/passion would’ve encouraged me to pursue it and helped put me on a path that would help it flourish in the future.  Instead I ended up majoring in Nutrition and graduated with both a B.S. and an M.S. in the field.

I do enjoy my job with the WIC Program – I like the aspects of nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy and childhood.  After ten years in this specific field, I’m pretty darn good at my job.

But it’s not my passion.  I don’t go home still thirsting to learn more about nutrition.

Instead I spend my down time working over plots or character sketches or simply writing a story.

This true passionate talent gets relegated to the back burner because I pursued something else.

I’m 100% positive I’m not the only one.

I think it’s silly that those of us who choose to pursue a college education are expected to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives at the tender age of 18.  At that point in life we barely have our heads screwed on straight.  All we’re looking forward to is the chance to have freedom from Mom and Dad.

Granted, there are a few who know their passion and pursue it in four years and leave the rest of us in the dust.  It took me a whole semester just to decide to major in Nutrition.  Now, two degrees and thousands of dollars later, I wish I hadn’t wasted the time or money.

My hope now is that I can look at my girls as they grow, see what they’re both good at and truly passionate about, and encourage them to pursue that.  I want them to enjoy what they do and feel fulfilled by it.

This concept isn’t new and I think more parents need to pay attention to it.

When I got married I quickly discovered that one of my Mother-in-Laws favorite scripture passages is Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  At the time, my brother-in-law was a rather wild and rebellious soul and I think she clung to this verse hoping that it meant he would someday accept the much more conservative principles of her own faith.

In some ways, she’s right.  As Christians we are in charge of spreading the gospel to our kids.  It is then their responsibility to believe or not believe.

But this verse means so much more.  I didn’t dig any deeper until I picked up a Max Lucado book and he spent an entire chapter devoted to this one verse.  His interpretation of the scripture meant something entirely different.  He charged parents instead to help their kids discover their talents, to find what they are good at, passionate about, and built for.  Then we are to take every opportunity we can to let them practice and hone that skill so that they can carry it into old age.

There are many translations of that verse, some helping to see this viewpoint better than others:
“Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.”  The Living Bible
“Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”  The Message
“Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.”  New Life Version
“Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when he is old, he will stay on course.”  The Voice

They all speak of a path or a course or a direction – and most assume that means the straight and narrow walk to Heaven.  However, it can also mean the direction of their life in general.  Help them discover who God created them to be.  We are all parts of one Body, that of Jesus Christ, and we all have different skills and assignments.  It is our job as parents to help our kids discover what God created them to do and be.  Beyond that, we need to put them on a course that allows them to use their talent to glorify God.

I only started taking my writing seriously when I turned 30.  For our anniversary my husband bought me a laptop and said, “I expect you to use that to write.  You’re good at it.  So do it.”

No one had ever said that to me before.  People humored me.  Some even read my books and told me they liked it or thought I was a good writer.  But no one ever pushed me to pursue it or helped me find the means to do so.

I had been writing for 19 years by that point, but only in the past five have I allowed my words free reign for the world to see.

Now when people ask me to define myself it rolls off my tongue without hesitation or embarrassment – “I’m a writer.”

I want my kids to have that kind of confidence from the start.  I want them to embrace and be proud of the person God made them to be.   So between all the temper tantrums and dirty diapers, spilled sippy cups and mountains of toys, I am quietly observing who they are.  What makes them tick?  What do they show a natural talent and interest in?

Those are the things I want them to pursue.

Though I may lament lost time and opportunities, I’m still thankful that I finally found someone who convinced me to take myself seriously.  Better late than never.  Even though I haven’t achieved “traditional success” – meaning I’m not published in print or in electronic form – I still feel like I’ve accomplished something for God.  I haven’t wasted my talent.

I have five complete novels posted on WattPad and all five of them are quickly and quietly racking up readers.  All but one of them focuses on a person’s journey to God – whether through grief, fear, anger or unforgiveness.  Better than the numbers and the followers are the comments I’ve garnered from my readers.

God is using my words to tell His story and people are responding to that.

Two of the best comments I’ve received were these:

“Absolutely loved the story line, the flow and character descriptions. You did a good job manipulating my emotions and reminding me of the various tough times that I just couldn’t pray or believe. Grief is not an easy road for many. You were quite effective in answering many grief related questions that people normally ask. All in all, this was an excellent story! This story is truly one of those hidden gems on Watt Pad. Keep up the awesome work!”

“The two stories I’ve read of yours have been a wealth of knowledge for me.  I’ve learned more about God and it’s given me some peace.  Your stories are excellent tools of learning and I hope you write more.  When Gabby threw the Bible I felt the pain rip through me too.  Thank you for beautiful stories of such deep faith.  I’ll treasure all I’ve learned.”

I have three goals when I sit down to write:
1.  Write real and raw.
2.  Point back to the source of my gift – God.
3.  Get it read.

I’ve accomplished those things with every single one and that makes me proud.

I don’t know it all and I’ve still got plenty of learning of my own to do.  But even in the middle of my mess – this crazy, insane, and totally brain-squashing thing called Motherhood – He’s still using me.

We’ve all got a gift or a talent, a passion that drives us.  Harness it.  Thank God for it and figure out how to use it to spread His message.

Beyond that, help your children learn who they are so they can do those things too.

 

*All scripture references were taken from BibleGateway.com*

*Max Lucado reference is taken from Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot*

 
 

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Experience: The Most Brutal of Teachers

For those of you who didn’t know – I went to a Writer’s Conference in October and had the opportunity to sit down with an agent and talk about Broken Vows.  Surprisingly, he was interested enough to ask me to write a proposal and email it with my first three chapters.  Holy Cow!

For those of you who follow me on Facebook – you saw me whining about my anxiety and insecurities enough that I’m sure you wanted to block me from your news feed!  😉  For anyone who didn’t, thanks for being so nice!

If the stress leading up to the conference and my agent appointment wasn’t enough, I found myself completely overwhelmed when he asked me to write a book proposal!  So much so, I ended up with a head cold and fever blister that left me ready to remove my head for a week!

C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

He wasn’t kidding.  When I returned from that conference I spent a week on the web getting a crash course in writing a book proposal.  The agent knew this was my first foray into the professional world of publishing; even so, I didn’t want my proposal to be weak.  I didn’t want to come across as the scared greenhorn that I am!

Not having anything to compare it to, I feel I wrote a pretty darn good book proposal.  He found it compelling enough to move on to the chapters of my book.  Phew!

Alas, that’s where this particular journey ends.  While he felt that my topic and theme are needed and poised to become popular in the Christian Romance market, he didn’t feel my writing was strong enough to pursue at this time.

Thankfully, he was very kind.  He pointed me to some blogs to learn more about my craft and suggested I work on my “platform” to make myself more visible to readers.

Was I disappointed?  Sure.  Surprised? No.  Relieved?  You bet!

I learned way more than how to write a book proposal through this process.  I learned my true goal as a writer and what is needed for me to feel satisfied, as if I’m fulfilling my purpose.  And it isn’t what I always thought it was.

I love to write.  I feel it in my bones.  If I don’t write for too long I start to itch inside, like I’m having withdrawal.  This desire is as much a part of me as the color of my eyes or my addiction to chocolate.  I can’t escape it.  I enjoy it.  Creating characters and other worlds is fun!  Many times it’s also cathartic and allows me to work through some of my own pain and demons or helps me make sense of the insensible of this world.

When I sat down to edit my manuscript and write the book proposal it was the first time that writing ever felt like work.  I learned how to do both, and learned how to do them well, because it’s necessary if you want to get anywhere in the world of professional publishing.  It’s also part of my inherent nerdiness.  When I learn, I learn the right way the first time.  It’s never half-a**ed.

I sent the proposal off with a sigh of relief and sat back to wait.  While I waited I realized that I was now more afraid of him saying yes, more afraid of success than rejection.

Why?

Because if this manuscript went beyond this agent and got selected by a publisher it would mean more work.  Editing, revision, marketing, etc.  I could easily see the joy of writing getting sucked away by the process of publishing.

The day writing becomes work for me is the day I no longer want to write.

That epiphany made me really look at why I write and what I want to achieve.  Beyond writing for my own enjoyment I only have two goals – for my work to be read and for my story to connect with my readers.

I’ve already accomplished both of those goals.  Sure, there are no books in a book store or on anyone’s Kindle.  I’m not making a cent when someone chooses to read my stories. However, the prestige and the money are not the things that flame this desire.

I feel content and satisfied to have my works posted on Watt Pad and watch the stats climb as new readers add me to their reading lists or vote for my stories.  I have plenty of friends and family who have read my stuff and are excited to pass it on via word of mouth.

So even though my first foray into the world of agents and publishing has hit a dead end (at least for now), I don’t care.  I may choose to pursue it again in the future.

Right now, I’m happy to take a break from writing and focus on the rest of my life. I have two small kids who need my time and attention plus a “real” job that I happen to enjoy, once you get past all the political red-tape.

Above all else, writing remains something that I enjoy.  It remains fun.

I’ve got enough work in my life.  I don’t want writing to be a part of it.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in christian, Indie Writers, Reading, writing

 

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