A Deep, Humbling, and Frightening Wake-Up Call

As a writer and an overall creative person, I’m never short of ideas. However, what I lack is stamina, perseverance, and confidence. I’m not an implementer. Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself from 2017-2018 and into the early months of 2019. I rely heavily on others to get the job done. I’m quick to suggest ways to improve a story or a situation and I’m great at “what if…” scenarios. Unfortunately, “what if…”  and “how about doing this…” can get you only so far in life.

I have a serious confession to make and though it’s not easy to admit considering I have only admitted this secret to my husband, my sister, and my close friend who is also a creative person, but here it is…I have fifteen (15) unfinished manuscripts. I actually have nineteen manuscripts. Four are completed with two rounds of edits and several rejections.

Believe it or not, it’s not the rejections that stop my progress. I actually don’t mind being told “no, your story isn’t for us” because it usually comes with some constructive feedback. But clearly, they all lack something. So they sit in a drawer, unrefined.

With that out of the way, there is one story that I want to focus on. This is the novel that weighs on my conscious every day I breathe. I’ve been working on and off of this story for over 2 years now. Most people would say stop, put it aside and come back to it. People have offered to be beta readers and hold me accountable but none of that works for me.

This story pitch immediately raises eyebrows and excites many when I tell them about it but I can’t finish. For the longest time, I didn’t know why. There is an agent who is eager to read it if I move it to another age group (middle grade to young adult) so I can include more “adult” themes into the story. I can see her point but I can’t bring my story and characters to that point. So what do I do? I let everything in life take priority over this one story. I say “yes” to so many other projects and jobs that can justify my delaying the finishing of this story.

So here’s the part of this “confession” that brings me to the title of this blog post. One night I had a dream that shook me to my core. I woke up gasping for breath, heart racing, a tear, and sweat-soaked pillow, and sheer physical exhaustion from panic. I have anxiety and suffer from panic attacks but never had I experienced one in my sleep.

In my “dream” it was my judgment day. I sat at a large conference room table with about twelve people all around. Some people I knew and others I didn’t. God passed out my unfinished manuscripts and other story outlines to them. As He passed them out, He told me that since He has given me the gifts of a supportive husband, time, and imagination I have no excuses as to why I never fulfilled my purpose of storytelling. As each person read through the manuscripts and story outlines they were excited at the potential that these stories held. I fought with every ounce of strength in me to get them back, yelling, “those are mine!” I felt as if someone was taking my child away from me. It was deep. It was humbling. It was frightening. I fell to my knees sobbing, bruised, regretful, and sad. On the brink of being utterly broken, He lifted me up and gave my stories back to me and with a warm embrace, I woke up (figuratively and literally).

It was tough love. It was an awakening that I will never forget. I am working towards finishing these manuscripts one at a time. I now know what has stopped my progress. All these years I’ve been focused on the wrong purpose. I was writing in hope of fame and accolades. I was writing to appease the commercial markets. I wasn’t writing with a God-filled spirit. I wasn’t writing to glorify Him. Knowing this, I now confidently say “no” to many other busying things to protect my writing time. I am filled with a new spirit to get healthy so I can live long enough to write stories and to continue sharing His grace through the gift of the storytelling.

He is the one laying a path for me to walk. Today, I boldly and obediently follow His path. I pray you will surrender whatever it is that you struggle with to Him.

~Denise

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