As a child visiting the family homestead, I went on numerous blackberry-picking adventures with my Missouri cousins. Toting buckets, we ventured deep into woods thick with brambles while keeping an eye out for iron pyrite nuggets to load down our pockets.
We returned, hours later, to be met by Aunt Ethel and her various soaps and ointments. Despite our bites and bugs and itches, we had little to show for our efforts but purple stains on our face and hands. I still remember the taste of sun-warmed berries cramming my mouth, handful by greedy handful. I remember, too, the sting of berry juice in the long red welts I collected.
Exchanging pain for sweetness seemed a reasonable trade to me as a child. I’m more circumspect now.
My life as a writer has had its share of thorns. I’ve tried hard to make my dreams come true, which means that I’ve gathered my share of rejections. When my golden moment finally came, and I held a contract for my first nonfiction book in my hand, it seemed surreal.
The contract fell through.
Looking back with the knowledge I have now, I probably had a lucky escape from a disreputable offer. As I learned in my childhood, all that glitters may be fool’s gold. I knew none of this then. All I understood was that I had held my dream in my hands and watched it crumble to nothing.
I gave up writing. For life. If I didn’t try, I couldn’t fail again. My scratches wouldn’t have to sting.
But I tasted no sweetness either.
Years went by and still I did not write. Had I not made time for daily devotions, I might not have returned to writing at all. I prayed to understand God’s plan for my life, and a funny little question formed in the back of my mind: I’m not supposed to be writing, now am I? I pushed the irritating thought away, but it returned. No matter how I tried to ignore the idea, it would not be stilled. To appease my conscience, I gave lip service to writing again but avoided doing so. And when several people invited me to join the same writing group, Northwest Christian Writers (NCWA), I expressed an interest but put it off.
And then, one morning while in prayer, I surrendered my fears to God.
At the first NCWA meeting I attended, I felt lost. Everyone else seemed to know exactly what they were doing while I had no plans beyond showing up at meetings. After several months, I’d identified a goal. I would finish writing the epic fantasy series I’d abandoned so many years ago. This January I signed a contract with Harbourlight Books for publication of DawnSinger and WayFarer, the first novels in my Tales of Faeraven series.
In risking the thorns again, I’ve learned to approach my desires with more caution. I no longer have writing ambitions; I have a calling to write, something altogether different. Although I’ve attained it, my first goal is no longer publication, but rather to tell my stories with truth and grace. If I succeed in this, I’ve accomplished a different and better dream, one that’s worth a few scratches.