I clicked the button that said, “Send” as a sigh of relief escaped my lips. No looking back now, as the final copy flies through cyberspace to my publisher. No delete key can fix typos, grammatical errors or incoherent thoughts. I think I just leaped off of a fifty foot cliff.
It’s a scary thing to cut up tiny portions of your life and pare your stories with biblical truth. Did I get it right? Will people understand my thoughts? I’m now putting up my experiences for anyone with a pair of reading glasses to scrutinize, critic and evaluate. Why did I write this book? For fame? (not interested) for fortune? (not realistic) All these thought go through any writer’s mind if they have pulled back the tent flaps of their life and share their experiences.
Changing Zip Codes is not the book I’d planned to write. I was going to be the next Beverly Cleary or Anthony dePaola. Children aren’t fickle like adults, if they like your stories they will be loyal. Adults are more into tends. But if we are following Jesus, we may have to interrupt our plans for His. I experienced an unusual change of directions when I went to a writer’s conference in New Mexico.
I had my very dog-eared Middle Grade novel in hand as I rode from the airport with some other writers to our writing conference. Squeezing into the van I found myself next to a vivacious interior designer named Mitzi, During the hour long drive to the conference grounds we both shared the passions in our lives. She wanted to help people enjoy growing older. I wanted to help women cope with moving. When I said the word, “moving” I noticed her eyes moisten as her moving story poured out.
Years ago Mitzi, her husband and children moved to another state. While settling into the new neighborhood she met the woman next door neighbor. The two struck up a friendship and spent time together with their small children. A week before Easter, Mitzi remembers looking out her front window at a trail of visitors parked on their street. It seemed her neighbor had put together an Easter party for the kids in her church at her house. Mitzi remembers her two little girls crestfallen as they watched other children ring the front door. She thought, Why didn’t we get invited? As she told me the story, I could see her emotions still attached to her story.
The next day when I headed for my fiction classes I ran into Mitzi in the hall. She saw I was going right and the nonfiction classes were to the left. Raising her voice a little too loud for early morning, she said, “Why aren’t you going to the nonfiction class? You’re supposed to write about moving!” A little miffed, I thought, How do you know what I’m supposed to do- I just met you. But as her words sunk in I knew she spoke truth. Who else wanted to write about moving? No one I knew. Who had a zillion moving stories? Again I came up with a blank. I gave Mitzi a quick smile, change my direction and went left.
Last summer I taught at another conference, with my Middle Grade novel still tucked away in my briefcase. I still hoped that even after eleven years and 32 rejection letters, I might publish it. One of my college roommates always said, “Hope springs eternal in the human heart”. As I listened to various editors stand up and tell the attendees what kind of books they are currently seeking, one caught my attention. An acquisitions editor from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Eddie Jones stated that their company wanted “niche” devotionals from authors. Hmmm…I thought, I’ve heard that word “niche” before. It usually showed up in a rejection letter from other editors who felt a moving book just wasn’t of general interest.
I’d never even thought of doing a devotional book. I’m just not that religious. Writers of devotionals need to have gone to seminary, taught ten years of a Bible study and have a very serious, intellectual bent. I sure didn’t fit the mold. I love Jesus but my writing is practical, humorous and anecdotal.
I was more surprised than anyone when I received a contract to write a book for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I started in, telling myself I’d write one devotion a day. I flew through my assignment until the forty days ended. The forty-first day I had nothing else to say. The well was dry.
It’s a huge endeavor to write even a small book like mine. I’ve been humped over a computer for several months and my posture has paid for it. It’s called “re-write”. In the last weeks meals have been slap-dapped together and my husband often has mismatched socks. But knowing I’ve encouraged a young mom with toddlers, a recently graduated college student starting a job in a new city, or empty-nester trying to adjust to retirement and a quieter home fills me with unspeakable joy. I want to be there for all of those who have to relocate and I can’t. But my little book can be their friend as they navigate new paths in their life. If I’ve encouraged one lonely mover how God is always there for them, my job is done.
Here’s to finding your community,
BTW: if you just can’t wait, I have the link to order a book on Amazon.
I’m also looking for reviewers. Anyone interested, contact me.