Carpe Diem—Seize the Day!

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero
“Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future.”
~ Horace

 

My first few heady months on the fiction venture promised much.

The last word of my manuscript hit the page less than four months after my first fiction word. Another four months flew by as I started a blog and attended a writer’s conference—garnering one agent’s rejection, one editor’s request for a proposal and manuscript, and a second agent’s offer of representation.

God Himself seemed to prompt the flow of words and throw open doors for this new calling. I surely owed Him my best in return, and wholeheartedly threw myself into pursuit of publication, believing I’d obtained a ticket on the fast track.

Then reality hit. Decades of only legal and ministry writing left some room for developing fiction craft. More than one re-write lay before me. Platform building needed some time.

Other writers offered Helpful Tips:

“The secret to writing is butt in chair—put it there and don’t move it.”

“A sign on the closed door to my office reminds the kids: ‘DON’T KNOCK UNLESS YOU’VE ALREADY CALLED 911.’ ”

“Followers = Platform! Spend hours on blogs, leave oodles of comments, and watch your numbers soar.”

Such measures never quite hooked me. But my perspectives did shift. I kept the fridge stocked and laundry baskets filled with clean clothes, lest ordinary mortal tasks of meal preparation and laundry be utterly neglected. Sleep became a nuisance once my art-driven energy soared. Spare moments were afforded to non-online faces.

Somewhere along the way, I started to forget: Writing about life doesn’t replace living life.

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
~ Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

Thank God for kids who won’t be ignored. However compelling the calling to write, God forbid that I ever see the day’s word count or blog post as more important than my husband or kids being certain of my love, than working through conflict, than spending some time with someone who’s hurting.

I do have a calling to write which is blessed by the Lord and worthy of my dedication. Professionals have affirmed the compelling story I’ve written. My stellar agent and I both have high hopes for my future in publishing.

But I’m content to wait for a novel’s release date, now that I’ve learned:

“Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending.”
~ Unknown

P.S. to post: I never actually adopted those tips, or employed that sign. But feel free to use it if the Lord leads YOU …

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55 thoughts on “Carpe Diem—Seize the Day!

    • Rachelle Gardner says Strength + Focus = Balance. Whatever our writing strengths, we do well to remember all the others! : ) Enjoy the break, Rebecca!

      • Of course you’re forgiven, Jordyn! Though I admit I did wince for a moment that you thought I really did use that awful sign. : )

  1. Thanks Anne, It never ceases to amaze me that God often talks to many at the same time, about the same thing. This message came clearly to me very recently and has caused me to step back and enjoy what is around me, go slower, ‘seize the day’. Already I’ve read several posts saying the same thing!
    I wish you all the best with your writing and will watch for your novel.

    • I too am often amazed, Dee, at how God dovetails from many sources a point He means to drive home.

  2. Sometimes I think there should be a warning sign for people considering writing as a career, something that let’s them know about how much time and energy they will be required to spend on things other than writing: blogging, platform building, branding… All of those things took me completely by surprise and it seems to be a struggle, for me at least, to keep writing my novel a priority. It’s no longer just a challenge to find time to write, it’s now a challenge to keep writing time balanced with everything else.

    I have feelings all over the map about this, everything from mild annoyance to downright discouragement and everything in between. This is why I really try to focus on being obedient to the calling God has given me and remember that things will happen in God’s time and in his way. I really don’t know how people do this without faith that God will work all things in his time and will bless obedience in the perfect way.

    I do want to be published, and would love to write for a living, but if that never happens I will be okay as long as I know that God has used my writing to touch and encourage people. I know that he is doing that now because I have people tell me how a blog post has helped them, or a prayer verse has encouraged them… Those are the things that I focus on. I don’t want to get so focused on my own agenda or destination that I miss the blessings of allowing God to use me today.

    Thank you for this post. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it and seize it for his glory!

    • Sherri, one of the things I’ve learned on this journey (which Rachelle has often reiterated) is that the calling to write and the calling to be published are two different things. I’ve tried to walk away from the calling to be published, also daunted by everything involved. Though I can’t yet presume that God intends for me to be published, it’s obvious that He wants me on the journey to pursue publication. If not for that journey, I’d not be blogging or twittering. I’ve learned some important things and ministered to wonderful people through avenues I’d not be using except for that journey.

      So yes, as long as we’re being obedient to God, as long as we’re both blessing and being blessed, we are a success!

  3. Perspective is a terrible thing to waste–so grateful you reminded me of it here today! Life’s too short and precious to let the things already in our possession fall through our fingertips. Amen, girlfriend!

    • Wouldn’t it be nice, Amy, if we knew exactly how short life is, so we might plan accordingly? ; )

  4. That perspective is so important, Anne. Thanks for reminding us of that! I had a serious “talk” with myself last week as I was bemoaning my lack of writing hours. It was time to count my blessings and realize that my cup truly does overflow. It’s all about God teaching me to take my eyes off myself and open my life to His love, given in so many ways!

    • God’s love. I share with you the bemoaning and the blessing-counting, Sue. After your years away from a publishing career to answer another calling, I am certain you could have written this post more effectively than me. I am truly blessed to have met you, and to know firsthand how you’ve opened your life to our Father’s love in you and through you. ♥

  5. There is the possibility that anything can become and idol to you.

    I hear a lot of talk about writers concerned they are building platform to the detriment of their writing – other actual people seemed to be mentioned less, but the danger is there as well. This is one of those things that really shows I can not function without a prioritized schedule governing every bit of my life. 😉

    • Yes, Katherine, even our calling can become an idol. : ( But we have a God Who is still willing to call us, and to walk us through all those priorities, as we keep our eyes upon Him.

  6. Since I started dedicating more time to my blog, I’ve also felt the same way you described.
    Thanks for reminding me that it’s not about numbers, it’s about people. Writing to people (no matter what the numbers say) and not neglecting the ones that need us (we need them too!).

    • Isn’t it hard, Chris, to pay more attention to God than numbers? He’s reinforced that for me, over and over. When my Google Analytics TOTALLY weren’t working once, I sensed Him saying, “I TOLD you not to pay attention …”

  7. I have to remind myself sometimes that if it wasn’t for my children I wouldn’t have any reason to write. Writing is a vocation, but it is not my whole life.

    • Exactly, Kathleen! “Children aren’t an interruption to our work, they’re the REASON for it!” : )

  8. Love the sign on your office door, Anne!

    But seriously, I SO agree with you here. If we are called to write, we are not uncalled to minister to our families. It’s sometimes a moment-by-moment balancing act, one I’m never entirely certain I get right, but my goal is to fulfill His calling in both areas…by His grace. Always and only. 🙂

    I’m so delighted you stopped by my blog. Yours looks absolutely beautiful! Hugs to you, sweet friend.

    • Oh, Julie, no, no, no! That’s NOT the sign on my door. Another writer suggested it. I couldn’t bring myself to that point.

      I loved the visit to your blog. Hugs backatcha! I hope your busy schedule leaves room to bring you back to Michigan just often enough.

  9. Thank you for this post–it was much needed this morning, as my husband and I were discussing (again) how my desire and drive to write is taking over life … God has used this to help me gain perspective again. I may need to read it over and over! Thank you.

    • Christi, I pray that the Lord will lead you to gain the needed perspective. Writing is an art AND a ministry, and God doesn’t necessarily intend that every artist combine their art and ministry with business. May the Lord show you the individual journey He has for you, bless you in the way, and bring peace & balance to the gift of writing He has put in you. May He give you the edification of knowing how others are blessed through you. (In Jesus name, amen.)

  10. Anne, I am in total agreement. I have been disturbed by the fact that my life as a contracted pro novelist has affected my ability to minister to my friends and neighbors. I’m still working out what to do about it.

  11. And also, I should say that I don’t consider “Writing is a ministry too” to be a complete or adequate response. 🙂 There is a noticeable difference between the spiritual effects of ministering to people in person and ministering to them in writing.

    • Rosslyn! I’m laughing at your comment because I just replied to Christi before I read it. I used to just say, “writing is art, publication is business.” But once you factor in ministry, it really does muddy the waters—yes? I do hear and feel for you.

      I’m juggling for sure. God seems to have a way of keeping all three before me, however much I whine. (I MISSED you last month! I understand, though, the limited number of hours you have. Ever so much love to you! ♥)

      • LOL! Except that when you said “writing is both art and ministry” you meant it in a different way.

        Love hearing from you Anne, and I missed you last month too. You are a unique blessing to me and to the writing community.

  12. I’m so grateful for the reminder. There was a time not too long ago when I took care of two elderly parents and my young son and somehow kept writing. Now, when I look back at those times I remember a lot of laughter, shared meals and lacrosse games – and two books. Thank you!

  13. Absolutely needed to read this post today, Anne! I am impatient, and this is an industry and a journey in which patience and balance are key.

    Love the sign on the door, by the way!

    • LOL, Michelle. The sign belongs to someone else. My “office” is a corner of our family room.

      Thank you for the affirmation. The Lord certainly has an infinite number of ways to teach patience and balance, whether in publishing or any other area of life. (I’ve been interrupted three times by two squabbling darlings even as I reply to your comment. Where IS that sign!?)

  14. Such a good reminder today, Anne. Sometimes the to-do list is so tyrannical, I forget about the people I’m supposed to be ministering to first: my family!

    • You hit the nail on the head, Erica! ALL of it—the writing and publication, the laundry and meals—is ministry. (Still smiling about you after ACFW, BTW! :D)

  15. Anne, what a great reminder you give us that, “writing about life doesn’t replace living life.” Amen!

  16. Anne, it’s so true. I can get caught up in writing and reading and commenting and my kids live life just outside the room. If I stay sequestered the whole time, I’ll miss this vital time. As ever, on the hunt for balance. Why didn’t I take more gymnastics classes?

    • I’ve heard that the longer we live, the more regrets we have for what we haven’t done than for what we have done. As for those gymnastics classes, are we both thinking of Rachelle Gardner’s post concerning gymnastics, and “Strength + Focus = Balance” ?

  17. WARNING: I am stealing … er … borrowing your quote about happy endings and highlighting on my In Others’ Words blog. Love it — such a nice kick in the pants reminder of reality.
    Too often I want to shove the people in my life out of the way so I can do the “important” stuff, i.e. write.
    Sigh.
    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
    And you nailed me on it oh, so nicely.
    Bookmarking this page.
    And going to hug my husband.

    • Beth, you certainly can’t steal those words from me, since I’m borrowing them from some other unknown author. Thank you for the kind, “nailed me oh so nicely.” And if your husband gets some extra loving out of all this, then you bless me as much in return! ♥

  18. I feel the call to write, but life has a way of dragging me away more than I would like. I don’t want to neglect my daily life or my family, but days go by and I haven’t written, blogged, or posted on someone’s blog. It’s a struggle for me and I wonder if it’s just me.

    • Oh, Alisa! I DO understand that struggle. If there’s one thing I do know about that ever elusive balance, it’s that I’ll never, ever in a million years come close if I don’t put God first. If I can come even close to getting the first commandment right, then He is faithful to guide me in how to love my neighbor, whether my husband or kids, family (whether blood, church, online) or world. When I get it wrong, it’s usually because I act out of a false sense of obligation, rather than a genuine sense of who most needs my love right now. I pray that in this moment, you can feel my love across the internet—and especially God’s love. ♥

  19. Carpe Diem indeed!
    I loved this reminder of scripture, Anne:
    So teach us to number our days,
    That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
    ~ Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

    Just love that!

    And even when life is crazy we need to keep perspective as you’ve reminded us.

    You reminded me of one of my favorite Robin Williams movies. Every once in awhile I use a clip from Dead Poet’s Society for my college students. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQtmGcdSDAI See anyone else in this clip from a current tv show?

    You may also enjoy Mike Dellosso’s post here:http://justthewritecharisma.blogspot.com/2011/10/live-like-its-already-happened.html

    Blessings to you, Anne!

    • Jillian, would you believe that after not seeing The Dead Poet’s Society in a couple decades, I just saw it recently and was inspired to title this post accordingly? : )

  20. So timely for me, Anne. Thank you for a great post. My toddler’s “disruptions” are a blessing, a gift of the Divine, I don’t always recognize.

    • I think, Charise, when we manage to believe that God works all things for good, and then we look for it in every one of life’s ‘disruptions,’ we stop missing as many of blessings that He has right there waiting for us.

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