The first time I dreamed of being a writer I was fifteen years old. I wrote about it secretly, in my journal with a striped, padded cover.
I wrote about it in full-throated despair.
The dead-last child in a family of brilliant minds — mother writer, father poet, siblings singer/songwriter, ballet dancer, circus artist and would-be novelist — I had already swallowed this whisper, “There is not enough room. There is not enough room. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ROOM.”
Twenty years later, I have a book deal. Take that, you nasty little whisper.
My first break came at the Faith and Culture Writer’s conference. Natalie Trust invited me, and she prayed for me. I was weak-kneed for all the reasons. I sweated out my pretty blouse and had to change my shirt before my pitch session, which was the last appointment of the afternoon. I paced a path in the carpet, asked twice if there was any chance of getting in earlier, heaved myself in and out of lounge chairs. Finally I walked in and laid my mostly finished manuscript, a work of years, on a tiny college classroom desk in front of professional literary agent, Blair Jacobson.
He said it sounded interesting. He’d look at it when he had the time. About ten days later my phone rang and it was him and he said, “This is really good.”
My heart broke out in song. Like this. “AAAAAAAAAHH….” I thought, “I’m the best writer ever in the world!!!”
Then a couple of days later I hit the ground and thought, “Oh, no. I’m a fraud. I’m terrible. They’ve got the wrong person.”
Then I switched back and forth a few more times before I remembered that this isn’t actually the part that really matters.
What REALLY matters is…how much am I willing, to see and be seen? How much am I willing to peel back this skin and reveal the beating human heart beneath?
I’ve been on the slow boat. Chugga chugga chugga. I’ve had work to do on the inside and the outside. It was a shock to me — some days it is still a shock to me — to realize that I have somehow become a Christian writer. Somehow I am writing for the Christian writer’s market. I think someday everybody’s going to notice that this is me, ordinary old sinner me, who just slipped in to touch the Holy of Holies and then the whole game will be over.
But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. What seems to be happening is that I am being called forward to testify. In print. In a hardcover book published by Zondervan, next spring. I am being called forward to give spiritual nourishment and encouragement, and to lay out grace and hope.
It was a Thursday, when I received the offer. At my favorite coffee shop, with a warmed up cinnamon roll on a plate on the round, wooden table. I heard this whisper, “There is enough room. There is enough room. THERE IS ENOUGH ROOM.”
In the kingdom there are enough words to say what needs to be said. In the kingdom there are prayers enough to walk on. There are plenty of extra shirts to change into if need be. And the voice of scarcity and insecurity doesn’t win.
I still feel the temptation to put my head under the covers, one more time. I still feel whipped by the winds of ego, fame in one direction, failure in the other. But in this story, that isn’t how it ends.
Look out for my words on bookstore shelves, in 2016. Because I said “Yes.”