I honestly believe it will never be this special again.
First, some great news…We have an agent! Her name is Diana; she read my proposal for Joe’s story and asked for the manuscript Friday. Over the weekend I went through it one last time and pronounced it finished Sunday night. I sent a hard copy to Joe and electrons to Diana; she is now working on finding the right publisher. I couldn’t say for sure whether Joe or I was more excited, but as I listened to Joe’s elation over the phone Friday, I was tickled to pieces to have witnessed it. (I do believe he did a little jig.)
It was a sobering moment, Sunday night when I hit the “send” button, and with one click, transmitted more than a year’s worth of work and dreams off to an unknown world in cyberspace. I sat there staring at the “message sent” notice for a long time, contemplating the true scope of this journey, which actually began in the early 70s, sitting with my Nana in her giant four-poster bed, listening to her read from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. I became so inspired by Laura’s storytelling gift that I knew, just knew, it was what I wanted to do for my life. I started writing with abandon, and when my English teacher, Mr. DeRobbio, said I had a gift, I positively soared. I was going to be a writer!
But I didn’t do it. Not really. I stifled the call to write, with a military career (during which I wrote as a journalist, but not for myself–yet even there I received encouragement from people I admired and still try to emulate, like Pat Gibbons, Tom Bartlett, and Ken Smith-Christmas…), and I put it aside for two wonderful children and years of busyness. All the while, I knew God was nudging me…“So, when are you going to start?”
Then He put friends in my life to nurture and encourage, each one sending me a little closer to the ledge—Susannah Johnson’s “The Artist’s Way” class pushed me to Sarah’s writing group, where she, Martha, Meredith, and Anne dared me to dream about “what if?”
One domino toppled the next. I found myself at a writers’ conference that fanned the spark into flame, and met inspiring people like Beth Pensinger and Erin Elizabeth Austin. Over the next year I was a fly on the FB wall, watching their struggles as Beth wrote and published a sweet read called, “Let Me Fall: The Love Story Between God and His Dimwitted Daughter,” and Erin inspired thousands by sharing her battles and victories over darkness and founded Broken but Priceless Ministries. I’ll never be able to express to these women how integral they’ve been in my journey, and yet we barely spoke to each other.
But I STILL didn’t listen, so God forced my hand. He sent Linda Rondeau, a fellow writer and perfect stranger. She just appeared outta’ nowhere, armed with a story about a man who went to prison for a crime he did not commit and looking for someone who might want to write it. Another domino. This led to Joe and his awesome story.
Desire, ability, a story that absolutely HAD to be told–I had no more excuses. I even had my husband’s wide-eyed, “I’m-a-bit-nervous-but-I-know-this-is-important-to-you” blessing, and two sons who were glad to see me doing what I loved. And then sweet, sweet Phanalphie, of RhueStill Inc., who didn’t even know me yet but read my writing and offered me a net to jump into, and she probably would have flown out here from Oklahoma and pushed me off if I’d asked her to.
And again, I didn’t leap off the cliff. I more or less attempted to inch my way over the rim, scraping my knees as I fumbled blindly for toeholds, and I found myself only a couple of feet down, clinging to a ledge by my fingernails, half in and half out of two vastly different worlds. It took more nudging, by many more friends. Carrie and Kevin, my best friends and confidantes from work, helped pry my fingers off the ledge by assuring me that “the gang” would be fine, and although they’d miss me, I had to leave or risk going through life not knowing. Since I left, both of them have sent me inspiring notes when I really needed them, and many others from work continue to check in. Chuck and Rebecca check in almost daily, and let me whine on their e-shoulders when things don’t quite work out the way I want them to.
I also received tremendous support from my prayer partners, Kathy, Dino, Linda, Chris, and Michele, from my neighbor Julie, and friends and family from all over like George, Heidi, Jo, and Willa.
And a book was born.
While I was writing this I thought, you probably wouldn’t want to read a bunch of names of people you don’t know, but then I realized, this isn’t about the names. You do know these people. They’re in your lives as well. You just call them something different.
The bottom line is, if there’s ANYTHING you want to do, you can do it, but not on your own. Dare to dream. Then surround yourself with positive, prayerful people, and listen to God’s nudging; remember that He put this desire in your heart in the first place.
I will write more books. Joe’s story is powerful, but it probably won’t make either of us famous. I will write better books, and more than likely a few flops. I may even receive recognition for some, although that is not my measurement of success.
But it will never be like this. This is special. This is the end of the beginning. And you helped.