Signing a real writing contract!

Over the moon with excitement, I signed the contract, filled out the addendum that asked for my  social security number and put it in the mail.

The agreement was legal and binding. I would get paid for my first assigned article.

Hoo-ray!

My deadline wasn’t until February 10th.  I had plenty of time and besides that, it seemed like it would be a relatively easy article to write.  My first “assigned” Christian matter, the words  in the psalm looked clear and a couple of verses jumped out at me.  I set my task aside and finished the project I was working on.

After the New Year, I had yet to begin the article. It suddenly seemed more difficult than I anticipated. I struggled to come up with an inspirational story to make the verses come alive. I thought about my visit to Egypt and the pyramids. I remembered when I saw the Sun boat, which held the worldly goods of a pharaoh—placed there to accompany the pharaoh into the afterlife. I could build my article around that. But the topic might not be one in which most people could relate.

I kept coming up with different topics—but discarded each one. I knew that God had chosen this particular set of scriptures for His purposes, but why? Nothing is ever random with God. I began to feel that God wanted me to write about my dad, the topic that had first come to mind when I read the scriptures.

My thoughts were all tangled. How would I write the article?

I tried to keep a scriptural focus for the publication but instead, it took on a nostalgic feel.  It simply wasn’t coming out right. I could see that aside from my normal errors—dangling modifiers, redundancy, and too many words—the slant was wrong.

Exasperated, I made the corrections I could. I was just about ready to shoot the article off to my friend to see if it were any better, when I spoke to him instead.

Uh-oh!

Our conversation convinced me the article needed more than cosmetic surgery. It needed an overhaul!

But I didn’t know what direction to go. Almost always certain of what needed to be done, my friend seemed at a loss, too.  “I don’t know how to get you there,” he admitted.

I have wasted three days on this article only to discover it is leading nowhere!

My deadline was speeding toward me.

I could feel panic set in.

Even though I still had time, my deadline was racing toward me and I felt myself panic!

I called another friend and she reassured me, “No writing is ever wasted. You were simply exploring the topic.”

That made me feel a little better.

Then she said, “Or am I excusing you too much?”

I thought of my earlier procrastination and mumbled, “It’s probably a little of both.”

She laughed, which also made me feel better.

But I still had to find a solution and write the article.

She asked me a series of questions to help me focus. Before we knew it, I had discovered some ideas that seemed more on target with the scriptures I needed to illustrate.

I am still in the exploring stage with lots to organize and write again–but not panicked anymore.

If you are anything like me, you just want someone to give you a formula and fill in the data–my first approach to my article.  I know I exasperate  my first friend. I can see him rolling his eyes all the way from California to Pennsylvania.

Our dialogues go something like this:
“Why aren’t you saying anything?”
Him: “Just rolling my eyes again…”

I always think writing is going to be easy. I just have to expound.

But what I continually learn is that it’s the opposite. It’s not in how much detail I give, it’s about culling out the right details that make good writing, better.

If I apply that to writing for God’s kingdom, I think God not only wants me to share my stories, He wants me  to dig deep into my  experience and relationships, search for that soft, vulnerable underbelly and expose it!

The process my friend, Kim,  described to flesh out this article isn’t easy. I can’t just pull out memories and tag scriptures onto   or between them.  Or somehow make them fit in some superficial way. I have to find the common threads in my situation to identity the same motivations and vulnerabilities that others experience and draw them out.

I have to seek God’s will for the piece and struggle until whatever God wants me to understand and share, comes out.

It’s hard. Really hard.  You know what I mean, when you really struggle but it all leads nowhere?

I prayed. I  know that God challenges us and I am comforted that He never calls us to do what we cannot accomplish.

She encouraged me to keep trying.

So, as I begin again, I focus on God’s strength and the words He will help me choose to communicate His message.

Is it always this difficult?

I hope that first of all, I will learn not to procrastinate, and second, get a feel for what God is telling me to write.

As always, I realize that God has given me friends that push me in different ways to maximize my potential. My writing will never get old this way.

The more I write, the more I will learn to discern God’s will for various topics … and I will stretch myself…

How are you stretching yourself today? It might not be through writing.  It might be a completely different area of your life–developing another talent, guiding your children, whatever.

Don’t give up. Keep stretching yourself. Let me encourage you. Stretch with me.

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