This post is a part of the September synchroblog sponsored by SheLoves magazine. The theme this month is Awake. Click HERE to see the list of bloggers who have contributed. Consider contributing to next months’s synchrobog!
“I heard you have a book coming out,” I said to a familiar face I bumped into at a recent function. “Congratulations! Did it take you long to get that going?”
I know a few authors in my sphere of influence, and being a writer myself (who’s attempted to break into mainstream publishing) I am well aware of the time-consuming obstacles the typical author has to endure to get published.
“No, not long. I submitted a proposal and they offered me a three-book deal and gave me a big check.”
He said this matter-of-factly without a trace of bravada. I was stunned. No…I was startled. It can’t be true.
“Are you serious?” I exclaimed, my voice rising with disbelief mixed with green tones of jealousy. “You’re messing with me, right? No way did that happen. A three book deal?”
He nodded his head. “Yeah, I know. It’s a dream, but it did happen.”
As it sunk in that he wasn’t jesting I became agitated. “You’re not kidding. Wow. Don’t you know that writers like me hate writers like you.”
I heard the words fall out of my mouth, unfiltered by social propriety as raw emotion bled out into what was meant to be small talk.
“Writers like me gruel and bleed and work hard and try to break in and then someone like you comes along and it just happens,” I said.
“I know,” he affirmed, “it’s crazy.”
My dismay at his success in contrast to my lack of it was utterly betrayed.
He reached into his bag.
“Here. Have this.”
He handed me a sexy looking book… his book.
I stammered thank you as I now was trying so hard to regain my composure. A heat of embarrassment flushed through me as I realized how over reactive I was being. Then, I lost it again.
“He wrote your forward? I asked him to write one for my book, but he said no.”
My author friend had managed to get one of the biggest names in Christian publishing to write the forward to his book.
“You will sell many thousands of books just because of this forward, you know,” I said as another heat wave of tension mixed with new embarrassment washed over me. I had socially effed this up on so many levels.
“I know. I’m lucky they didn’t put the font for his name larger than mine,” he joked.
We said our good-byes, I thanked him for the book and promised to review it for my blog. “Let me know when you do,” he said and of course I will. He’s a nice guy. Humble and grateful for the wide open door that he has been given access to.
By the time I got to my minivan hot tears began to spill out. “Why don’t I get a break like that!” I ranted to God as I drove away. “I write my ass off. I blog and network and do everything I can to make it as a writer, yet here I am stuck working in a service job and for what!?”
It was apparent that the happenstance of running into this new (and younger I might add) author had triggered hidden disappointment. I thought I was at peace with my story, my story of being a writer who’s a Christian but not Christian enough to be a Christian writer, not wired enough to be a marketable writer, Not Good Enough to get my proposal through to executive publishing boards of big house publishers. I thought I had settled that score inside of myself. I had prayed through it many times and decided that wisdom called for me to focus on the doors that did open, the way of the path right in front of me rather than be defeated by the doors that wouldn’t budge or the path that didn’t lead to my idealized version of writerly success.
Once again I found myself woken up in the middle of my own story. The plot was not going as expected. I thought I’d be a full-time writer by now, no longer having to work at my high-stress hospital job to help with family bills. Talking with this new author rattled me from my slumber of acquiescence. I had mistaken peace with suppression. I did not yet own the story that I found myself in. I had merely taken a nap from the anxiety of it all.
“What is my problem?” I said to a group of wise, sage women who I meet with. “I’ve paid my dues. I thought I’d be further along by now.”
‘It’s that sense of entitlement,” replied my friend Deborah. “Women in India have paid their dues, too, but look at their lives. There is no big break.”
The light went off.
“Entitlement. Yes, you’re right. I live such a life of privilege to even think I have a problem like not getting a big writing break.” Our chatter paused as that thought centered itself in the room like a bouquet of fresh wildflowers. Deborah often has a word of wisdom and has spoken into my life more than once.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. — Melody Beattie
I gnawed on all of this for days and days. It’s been my reflection for 2012 : Own my own story. Wake up and take responsibility for the life I find myself in. It means having to stop comparing myself to others or contrasting one author’s writing path with the one that I am on. It means paying attention to God’s presence amongst the closed doors and dead ends. Unrealized dreams are part of the story, for perhaps they weren’t meant to be my dream in the first place…and we only dream when we are asleep. But here I was waking up again to the reality of the woman I am and the life I have at this stage of being. This is where gratitude comes in. Gratitude is the antidote for disappointment. Of this I am convinced.
That’s how I broke out of the funk. I reached inside for the golden places where gratefulness resides. As I called forth thanks for the life I have right now, for the writing opportunities that are mine right now, for the steady paycheck of the hospital job right now, my perception became recalibrated. Disappointment cannot colden a heart under the warm light of a thankful soul.
Being awake and fully present to the right here and right now is how I can own my story and own it with gratitude. It is what will help me celebrate the stories that others find themselves in (like my author friend) rather than collapse from a disheartened spirit. God is in my story, in every nook and cranny, in every lack of provision and denied aspiration. God is ever present in the story I find myself in.
That is something I thankfully will stay awake for.
(to read more about my writing mishaps check out this post, Why I’m Not a Christian Writer)
What about you? What part of your story do you need to wake up?