Tuesday, July 10, 2007

In the last days. . .

These are the last days, right?

I have been asking God a lot lately if I'm really supposed to be writing. I have also asked him to help me stop obsessing about writing and about getting published. I told him I surrendered it to him. If it isn't his will for me to write, then show me that.

Well, the last few weeks have been really hard. My computer died. We had to buy a new one. I've exhausted all possible publishers for my book except one, and that one changed their guidelines so that my book no longer qualifies. I can't go to a writer's conference this year to make new contacts with publishers. It seems doors have closed but none have opened. Is God trying to tell me something?

Then, last Thursday I was supposed to participate in an online chat about my newest book. When I tried to log into the chat room, I couldn't get in. My new computer refused to download the appropriate software. I tried and tried and for no apparent reason it just wouldn't work. I got so upset. I realized I was going to miss the chat completely. I started crying hysterically. I decided nobody wanted me to write, including God. I had wasted hours--no, days--no YEARS--of my life writing and striving for this elusive goal that seemed completely out of my control.

I went to bed early that night, so depressed that I wasn't sure I would ever write again. Maybe writing wasn't what God wanted me to do. Maybe I could serve God better if I went back to doing what I did before I started writing: Scrapbooking my kids' photos and experimenting with new recipes. (Oooo, I lived an exciting life, didn't I?)

That night I went to bed more depressed than I'd been in a long time. I prayed until I fell asleep. Then, in the middle of the night I dreamed that God wrote me a message that suddenly appeared on the cup I was holding. The message said that I was supposed to write, that God wanted me to keep writing. Then another message appeared, saying essentially the same thing. In the dream I was very excited and happy, not just that God said he wanted me to keep writing, but happy because God had answered my question and sent me a message.

When I woke up I was surprised I'd been dreaming. The dream had seemed so real and vivid. But I still felt as though God had spoken to me, and I instantly went back to sleep, feeling thoroughly happy.

The next morning I told my husband about the dream, and he said he believed it was from God. I kept thinking of that verse in the Bible, "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." Acts 2:17. Well, I'm not an old man, but I think the point is that God will inspire us and will do things through the Spirit in our spirits. Because if there's ever to be "last days" I think this has to be it.

Anyway, I praise God that he gave me some assurance.


April Gardner said...

Melanie, what an inspiration you are to me! Praise God for his faithfulness! "Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you!"
Thanks for sharing!

Robin Johns Grant said...

Melanie, thanks so much for sharing this. I have had a dark day like yours, and I received assurance from God in a pretty dramatic way, too. But you know what? I still hit so many stone walls--and I still keep asking him if I'm supposed to be writing. He probably gets sick of hearing me ask! Then again, maybe not, because I really have come to the point that I'll go forward or stay where I am, whatever he wants, and could probably be content either way. I used to just obsess and beg him for publication all the time. Maybe he really wanted me to reach this point. I can't wait to hear what comes next in your journey!

Mary Connealy said...

Melanie, Great post.
I was your mentor once and for some reason I just can't stop giving you advice...I know, you've moved, changed your email and phone and gone into hiding in a cave in Pakistan..no wait, that last one might be Ben Lawdon, (I deliberately misspelled that to keep Homeland security from arresting you, so thank me later) but you get my point.
I know I give too much advice.

EVEN SO, here's some more.
Get used to rejection.
Get used to rejection.
Get used to rejection.
And get tough. I think toughness, more than even writing talent, is the key skill for getting published. I send out EVERY proposal, even not that I'm published, EXPECTING rejection. Think of it as God building character through suffering.
Catholics might say, suffering on earth halves your time in purgatory.
So embrace the rejection, expect the contest losses, embrace the cruelty of criticism, then shake it off and keep writing.
I'm not saying rejections don't hurt even when you're expecting them, but it's part of the game. And playing it, darlin'. And you're very talented so hang in there and wait for the world to catch up to your talent (or some editor to sign you through an administrative mix-up).
It seems like there was more advice I needed to give you, but I forget now. (yes, hallelujah, I know, you're jumping for joy)
God bless you for the closeness to the Lord that makes Him come to you like that. It's encouraging and inspiring.

April Erwin said...

That's such an awesome testimony, Mel. I totally believe that God still speaks to us today, whether it's through dreams, or a still small voice, or thunderbolts and lightening. That last one's probably a rarity, but I'm so stubborn sometimes, I wonder if He won't resort to it anyway. :)

It's funny (odd) that you had this dream, because I had a similar experience about a week ago. I entered a contest recently and I've been working to complete the ms just in case it places in the contest. It never fails though, anytime I enter a contest or send out a query, I get anxious and start questioning whether my writing is really any good. Am I doing the right thing? Am I pursuing a publishing avenue that is in God's will?

Well, I was going through all the usual questions and praying late one night. I fell asleep and dreamed that I was sitting at a table having tea with my mom, my sister, and several others. Mom looked up at me and said, "God wants you to know, you're very good at what you do. Don't give up." I got so excited, and I felt this huge bubble of joy fill up inside me. When I woke up, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I really feel like it was God's way of encouraging me. He's so good about that. I've lost count of how many times I've asked God, "Do you really want me to write?" He always gives me a straight up answer, "Yes!"

Don't give up Mel. You have a great talent. Woodcutter's is going to make it. I just feel it in my bones. :)

Kelli Standish said...

We've never met, and I don't know much about your writing, but I did want to leave you a brief note of encouragement.

I've done a lot of work in the CBA, and read many, many manuscripts. If your writing is as strong as your blog post, you should not quit.

Your post has a gripping beginning, clear character conflict & progression, strong, evocative language that truly made me feel what you were feeling, and a solid ending. All the qualities you need for a good story.

So don't lose heart. This journey is not an easy one, and those who have true talent will find themselves melted down in the crucible over and over. But press on through it. God wastes nothing.

Cheering you on,
Kelli Standish

Anonymous said...

Dear Melanie;
I'm so glad that God has encouraged you in a dream. It is hard sometimes to walk in what we think the Lord has called us to when the situations don't seem to be lining up with that He said. Be encouraged and don't be weary in fighting the good fight.
Is this the place I'm suppose to enter to win Deb Raney's book you offered.
Nora ST.Laurent