The idyllic Blue Ridge Mountains have always conjured up images for me of the perfect place to write: nestled in an Adirondack chair on the porch of a solitary log cabin, quilt on my lap and mug of steaming coffee in my hand, gazing out at the hazy ranges. I’ve spent the last five days at a writers’ conference in those mountains that was anything but quiet. Four hundred people scurried about, jockeying for position to talk to acquisition editors, agents, and famous writers. My head is spinning from all that’s been crammed in this week. I need some time to process. My list of things I absolutely have to do, plus the number of ideas for new projects, have grown exponentially. I’m overwhelmed. Already, a few things have become clear to me.
First, only a crazy person would want to write. Or a person who is certain of God’s calling to write. It is hard work! When you think of the number of hours that goes into a book, for example, most authors earn well below minimum wage. Only a lucky few can quit their day job and do this full-time. Today, with the economy and the emergence of e-books, the publishing industry has taken quite a hit. All authors must market and promote their own books in today’s world. That means that after a writer gets home from his real job, he spends hours writing and just as many hours self-promoting. (Not fun.) The only reason I’m willing to put myself through that is to fulfill a dream God put on my heart when I was a child, a dream I believe He wants me to live out.
Writers are also crazy because no one else will swerve to miss a rabbit and drive their car off a cliff, for example, with two wheels hanging over the edge for hours with one lonely thought in mind. If I live, this will make a great story. Nothing terrible ever happens to writers, just terrific stories. We have an innate ability to mine every life experience. When things go wrong, it’s an adventure to me and my kind.
Unlike my first writers’ conference, the pressure was off this time for me to sit back and learn. I didn’t have the stress of pitching a project or toughening up my skin to hear a critique. But I also missed out on some of the joy. I’ll never forget the thrill I felt in 2006 when an editor gave me his card and asked me to send my proposal. I didn’t want this week to just be a time to gain information. I wanted to hear from God. Thankfully, He still moved me and whispered to me to keep going and not give up on my dream.
You see, I’ve learned that I can’t out-dream God. I need to continually dream bigger so my dreams become God-sized, step out of the shadows, and risk my comfort for Him.