I had what really looked like a breakthrough on the writing front. A Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of a house I really respect wrote me personally, said he thought I had a lot to say and could help a lot of people. I was beside myself, of course, fully believing my dream of book publishing was about to come true. In the weeks that followed, there was correspondence and tweaking and lots of hope. But in the last couple of days, the tone shifted from complimentary to hopeful to cautionary to critical, and just like that, rejection. No real reason to account for the change, and the air was let out of the balloon once again.
Writing is a funny business. I began writing for myself, to process my life. Some people liked what I had to say, so I started sharing it more. In a series of spooky, crazy spiritual experiences and encouragements, I came to believe what others had told me: I was meant to write a book. So much has happened since then, as I’ve learned more about the business, and had some successes and failures. As any aspiring writer will tell you, what you hear most as you send out query letters, proposals, and pitch projects to agents and publishers is silence. That’s hard. The lack of feedback or response is an industry standard, and it makes sense given the volume of work out there, but it’s hard on the random wannabe writer sitting on her couch sending out her heart in pieces to what feels like a shapeless void. I’ve come to trust that God’s ways are higher than mine, so it’s something I accept, but with an occasional side of sadness.
Today after mass, out of nowhere, I saw a beautiful face from my past. In the mid-nineties, Jean hired me to do mortgage loan processing for a bank. Back then, I was a twenty-one year old newlywed, recent college grad who was overwhelmed with a potential teaching career, and the short version is that what felt like a temporary pit-stop to figure out my life turned into four years of work in a place I was absolutely supposed to be.
I left that job to stay home with my kids, and eventually started my early childhood music education business. My babies are both grown now, and it’s been a long time since I’ve walked into the doors of that bank, but since Jean and I connected on Facebook several years ago, she has been a grace-filled support to me and my writing. She cheers me on, encouraging me forward, and letting me know when a particular piece finds a meaningful home with her. It means the world to me. Seeing her today at church was a wonderful surprise. It filled me with joy to see her face, and it reminded me that any good work we do is worth very little to the wider world unless it connects first with the one. Jean is my “one”. That I write matters to her, and that matters to me, very much.
As we serve, minister, toil and work, it can be tempting to strive and aspire for big-picture success. Looking too far into the distance can prevent us from seeing the faces right in front of us, the ones to whom our work matters today. Jean’s name is translated as ‘Gift from God’, and that’s precisely what she’s been to me ever since we sat across one another in her office in the early summer of 1993. Life has changed since then, given us both a series of twists and turns, ups and downs we could not have predicted then. I was so happy today to meet Jean’s fiancé, Kevin, and to see a glimpse of their bright future together. As for my future, it may or may not ever involve a published book, and that’s not for me to know today. What I know is true, for you and for me, is that sharing your heart authentically is always the right thing to do. It’s what Jean has always done, and it’s what I aspire to do with my one life. One step at a time, one person at a time, one day at a time, sharing your heart with others in whatever way you can makes one small, precious life into a gift.