A couple of years ago I went to an inspiring conference for writers and speakers. I took away a lot from that special weekend (including meeting Ann Voskamp face to face!) One of the things they told us is that if we had a blog, we should already consider ourselves “published.” The market continues to change and there are many ways to be published without it being in a bound book that we hold in our hands.
However, on October 31 I was contacted by an editor, informing me that a story I had written would be included in a book entitled, “21 Stories of Generosity.” Most recently we were notified that the book is now out on Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GMO6FEI
It is all very exciting, but let me keep it real here.
First came the PDF of the new book, “21 Stories of Generosity.” Included in that PDF were the other 20 stories that make up the book. We were to make any changes or corrections to our story and send it back to the editor by a certain date.
Confession #1 – I began to read other people’s stories but got distracted by their bios. I scrolled through, reading everybody else’s biography instead. Many are published authors of multiple books. Most have their own websites. Some have a trail of initials behind their names. I told myself to “stop it” and pay attention to the request the editor had made.
Confession #2 – Having read some of the other stories, mine suddenly was not good enough. I read it and re-read it, tearing it apart and thinking about how to rephrase parts I was not happy with. This went on for four days and nights.
Confession #3 – I realized (not for the first time) that this is one of my many character flaws. I never think anything I do is good enough, despite telling myself and others, “Your best is good enough.” This realization slowly sunk in: the story was accepted as it was. It is not perfect, but for this particular book, it made the cut. For those of you who are wondering, the spiritual application was not lost on me either. We are accepted by God as we are: character flaws, failures, poor decisions, broken hearts and every other miscellaneous mess I could name. He loves us as we are. For that reason, I emailed the editor on the Friday before the Monday that the corrections were due and told him I was making no changes to the story. Could I improve my story and my character? Absolutely. But I truly sensed God was showing me the bigger picture.
Confession #4 – I received another email encouraging us to add this book to our author central, as the sales will count toward our overall author rank. Huh? This is all new to me. What is an author central anyway?
Confession #5 – I followed the link where I was supposed to login to my account. Of course you already know… I didn’t have an account. So I typed in the name of the book. Pictures of all the other books published by 15 of the 20 other contributors to this book, popped up on the screen in full color.
Confession #6 – Most embarrassing confession yet… I started crying. Yep, I said it. Here’s what I know… comparisons ALWAYS leave me at the bottom of the heap. Or, as Ann Voskamp says it, “Pick up a yardstick to measure your life against anyone else’s and you’ve just picked up a stick and beaten up your own soul.”
So I laid the yardstick down. I thanked God for the gift of writing words that He’s given me and thanked Him for the opportunity to be published. I thanked Him for the editor’s encouragement and for the people in my life who have always believed in me, whether I am published or not. I remembered an entry in my mom’s journal saying that she thought I would be a writer when I grew up. I was nine. I thanked Him for all the people who are rejoicing with me and for the friend who wrote, “Your mom would be so proud.”
The truth is, I am happy, honored and humbled to get published and that the first book I was ever included in is about generosity. I can’t wait until it actually comes out in print!
This whole experience has taught me a lot already. I will continue to work on my writing skills. I will endeavor to honestly reflect who God is and what He is doing in my life. (A work in progress, to be sure!) I will pursue other opportunities to be published, not to make a name for myself, but because I desire for my life and my words to be an encouragement to others. I will still my heart and my mind and soak in the fact that I am accepted in the Beloved.
Laying the Yardstick Down With You,