My head is spinning faster than a Tilt-A-Whirl with a beefed up motor! That's what writer's conferences do to you.
As many of you know, little old me used to be a high school special ed teacher who realized her for-real dream was to make up stories and write them. For the past four years I wrote off and on, more off than on due to being dropped mercilessly into that refiner's fire we all grew up singing about in church. (Whoever wrote that phrase, "Refiner's fire, my heart's one desire..." needs their head examined! Okay so I left of the "...is to beeeeeee holy, set apart for-or you-oo my Master... but still...)
Trials still pepper my life, but for now I'm out of the hottest part of the furnace. Problem is, I still carry the scars. The scars weigh me down.
Countless times over the past four or five years I agonized over what I wanted to be when I grew up. I fretted and wallowed in regret over my degree choices in both undergrad and graduate school. Rejection letters collected in one of my paper piles whenever I finally got the guts to querry publications.
Staring at my computer, I'd often wonder what in the world I'd gotten myself into. I can't do grammar for Pete's snakes!
Save for this blog, I nearly gave up. But several people kept kicking me in the buhdunkadunk.
One Sunday at the conclusion of a service, Pastor Jim stood at stage end and said something really weird. It was really weird b/c Bear Valley has Southern Baptist roots and still holds to SBC theology despite its non-denominational status.
Pastor Jim said he had a prophecy. "I don't do this kind of thing very often, but God won't let me ignore this." He proceeded to prophesy that the tide is changing for a few church members. Those who have been beaten up for years financially, will find relief. Writers and architects who've been struggling, doubting God's hand in their lives will rise. This is the year of turn around. They will break through.
It felt like a million and three-quarter spiders crawled up my back, around my neck, up my face and into my hair. Tears formed in my eyes making my contacts all blurry (I hate that).
People filed out of the auditorium and Jim came up to me. "That was for you... and John (the architect)."
Skeptical me shouted, "This ain't no pentecostal church! Prophecies are pipe dreams to satiate people in pain." The burning in my heart fired up more, incinerating that voice. I nodded.
"See what God does. That'll prove it." Jim said.
Fast forward to now. The day after the CCWC conference. Little old me who believed her writing absolutely sucked voluminous quantities of dirty pond water through a very large straw, has piqued the interest of two publishing houses and two literary agents.
That's not all.
A panel of agents and editors facilitated a workshop titled, "Will they read on." Editors admit they only read one page or less of most submissions that pile onto their desks. If by the first paragraph, they aren't hooked, the manuscript is tossed. For this panel, they mercifully read first pages. After ripping several entries, an agent began reading the next novel opening. It was mine.
Bile rose in my throat. My hands trembled.
The page was read and the reader asked, "Would you this one on, why or why not?"
Down the line they went.
It was unanimous.
Every single one of them-
... ... ...
Not only that, but they kept saying "This is one talented writer. These word choices are incredible! Unpublished writers don't write like this... Wow! This person is gifted, however, I caught two participle problems." And so on.
The panel consisted of Dave Lambert (Simon & Schuester / Howard), Terry Burns (agent), Jeff Gerke (Freelance editor), Jeff Dunn (agent), Kathryn Mackel (bestselling novelist, Hollywood screenwriter), and Bryan Davis (Dragons in our Midst, bestselling author).
These people are at the tippy top of fiction writing. Who am I to say they are wrong. God used that very moment to strip away the lie I've been telling myself over and over again to the point I was creatively paralyzed.
I'm running loooooonnnnnnggggg here. I've got much more to share. Next time I'll give an update on the abortion skit feedback. It kinda fits thematically, wait - it DOES fit thematically with what I wrote here.
My litterbox is overflowing with joy right now!!!