Hurry Up and Wait – The Life of a Writer

It’s a scene repeated thousands of times in cities and towns across our nation and around the world. The aroma of roasted coffee beans wafts through a store as customers race to the counter, place and receive their orders, and rush off to work.

Coffee shops such as Starbucks, Peet’s, and Seattle’s Best have achieved success by filling individual orders for great-tasting coffee quickly and accurately. Serve ’em fast and move ’em out for maximum profits.

Until now. Until “slow coffee.”

A new coffee shop franchise in California – Philz Coffee – is slowing the coffee experience. Long lines don’t dissuade customers. Neither do the high prices. People wait patiently for their customized, slow-prepared drinks made from blended beans, aerated and slow-poured one cup at a time. Each drink takes up to five minutes to make.

It’s the embodiment of “hurry up and wait.” Customers rush in, wait, and dash out again in a caffeine-fueled rush.

Sort of reminds me of publishing. We write and write and write. Then we edit and re-edit. We submit to an agent who submits our work to publishers. The process can take months…or longer. And so we wait.

Finally, a publisher likes our work and agrees to publish it. However, anywhere from a year to eighteen months can pass from the signing of the contract until the actual release date. More waiting.

But before publication, the publisher’s editors will contact us. Time for a new round of edits. Only these must be done quickly – often within a week or less. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

More waiting follows as the book goes to print and more time passes before we hold that precious first copy – our baby! – in our hands.

The process doesn’t end there. We hurry to market our book to readers: we blog, post, and tweet. We travel and speak. And then we begin the process all over again.

But hurry up and wait applies to other things, as well. Do we hurry to obey God’s words or lag behind because we don’t want to be inconvenienced? Do we wait for His leading, or rush ahead to fulfill our own agendas?

Hurry up and wait. For coffee. For publishing. For life.

In what area are you hurrying today? In what area are you waiting?


 
Pay It Forward

Once upon a time I was the Vice President of Human Resources for an international insurance company. The corporate rat race consumed all my energies. Writing for publication was a vague dream that belonged to another life – a life far removed from my reality.

Twenty years later, we left New York City and settled in South Florida. I finally had an opportunity to pursue my passion for teaching and writing.

When I did begin to write for publication, I approached it from a lonely perspective. Just me and my computer. Yes, I read books on writing. But it wasn’t until I connected with other writers that I realized my dream didn’t have to remain a dream. Activities such as attending writers’ conferences, participating in critique groups, and joining writers’ associations have helped me develop my technical and professional skills.

The result has been publication of three books in the past year, with additional contracts in the works. I say this with gratitude and humility, knowing I never would have reached this place without the help and encouragement of others in the writing community.

My goal is to continue growing as a writer, but I also want to “pay forward” the assistance that was invested in me by more experienced writers. Part of paying it forward for me includes serving on the Board of the Christian Author Network (CAN).

Paying it forward is not limited to writers. It’s not limited to any one profession or personality. Every one of us has been helped by someone else along life’s journey. I think of the first two lines of John Donne’s poem, “No Man is an Island”:

No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…

When I take full credit for my accomplishments, I’m being foolish at best and arrogant at worst. The Bible tells us God is the One who gives us the ability to be successful (Deuteronomy 8:18). Even then, He often works through our experiences and relationships to give us the skills, abilities, and encouragement to accomplish our goals.

Paying it forward is something I want to do in every area of my life. My writing life is just the beginning. I’m looking forward to seeing how God will use this desire to touch others…who hopefully will do the same. Then ripples will reach distant shores I, myself, may never walk.

How about you? Who has assisted you on your life’s journey?
What will you do to pay it forward?


 
Faith Basics for Kids

I am thrilled to announce that the picture book series, Faith Basics for Kids, has been released by Standard Publishing.

This series has been an especially dear project for me for the past several years, and to hold the first two books in my hands is a true joy. I am especially grateful to Crystal Bowman for co-authoring these books and creating rhythm and rhyme that almost sings on each page!

These books are more than just picture books for children. They use lively text and age-appropriate language to present deep spiritual truths in a kid-friendly way. Each book incorporates familiar actions and experiences to help children relate to the story and understand an abstract Bible truth.

Additionally, each book also has an addendum that further explains the Bible truth to the parent or teacher. These addendums provide the biblical foundation and teaching to equip the adult to better understand the truth for themselves and to explain it to their children.


The first book in the series is Do You Love Me More?

Young children will learn that good works are not necessary to earn God’s love;
instead, our good works show gratitude to God for his grace.




The second book in the series is Will I See You Today?

Young children will learn that God is with them every day, everywhere they go.





Would you consider doing three things?
1. Rejoice with me at the release of Faith Basics for Kids!
2. Pray with me that God will use these books to plant His truth in the hearts of children and their parents.
3. Buy Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? for a child you know!


 
Affirmation…by the Numbers

I was never much of a numbers person. Words are more my thing. Lots and lots of words, if you ask my husband! Numbers…not so much.

It’s one of the reasons I love to write. To be able to communicate using myriad combinations of a mere twenty-six letters is nothing short of amazing. Yet, my writing life is slowly being consumed by numbers.

Sales numbers and sales rankings. Blog readers and blog subscribers. Blog commenters and friends lists. Website views and page views.

Numbers.

I used to think the most difficult part of the publishing process was actually writing the book…until I wrote the book.

Then I thought the most difficult part of the publishing process was convincing a publisher that my book was exactly what they wanted. Not anymore.

I have now joined the assembly of authors who have learned that hard work doesn’t end with a book contract. The question now consuming my thoughts is whether people will purchase my book. Does anyone even know it’s available? So the impulse to follow the numbers trail begins.    

How many page views did my website receive this week? How many Facebook friends “like” my Author Page? Can I fit my next Twitter posting into a 140-character tweet? How many people commented on my most recent blog post? Was it more than the week before? If not, why not?

My latest compulsion is to check the book reviews for One Year Alone with God. As of today, Amazon.com has three reviews – all five-star. Whew! But cbd.com doesn’t have any. Should I be concerned?

Just when I begin to get overwhelmed by the numbers, I’m reminded that God is more concerned with people than with numbers. In Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, pastor and author Jim Cymbala notes, “The Bible does not say we should aim at numbers, but rather urges us faithfully to proclaim God’s message in the boldness of the Holy Spirit.”

Rather than fall prey to the lure of numbers, I must remember that God works one person at a time to build His kingdom. If the reason God prompted me to write this book is to benefit only one person, then it is a successful venture in His sight. If I’m doing what He has called me to do, then I must trust Him for the results…and for my affirmation.

Of course, I will do everything I can to market One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God. But ultimately, I must choose: is my focus on finite numbers or my infinite God?

How do you resist the lure of numbers to bring you affirmation?


 
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