Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Live Like It's Already Happened

I started writing in 1998 as a way of dealing with the grief and questions after a terrible motorcycle accident almost claimed the life of my brother-in-law. I didn't know what else to do, how else to express myself. My heart was raw and exposed. I'd been poked in the eye by life and needed to vent. Writing became my outlet.

It was then that I was born a writer. I fell in love with it and knew it was what I wanted to do the rest of my life, in some form or another.

At first I wrote only for myself. I explored my feelings, questions, thoughts, my anger and frustration. Being a stutterer my whole life I had finally found my voice and there was no shutting me up.

But it didn't take long for my writing to become more focused and my goals more precise. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to be published.

Years went by and my writing evolved from short, vignette-like devotionals to more full-bodied creative non-fiction to, eventually, fiction. I'd finished one book and started on another but that publishing contract was no where to be found.

And I grew impatient. I was sure I was called to write, it was my passion. So why the delay? My frustration grew and spilled over into my day job and family life. I became withdrawn, moody, unfocused. I'd lost my vision, lost my way.

Writing this now and thinking back to those days I'm not proud of the way I handled things, actually, I'm ashamed of it, embarrassed even. But that's how things went when my focus turned to my own plans and timelines and expectations. It's reality in all its ugliness.

My wife, bless her, tried to be a constant encouragement to me. At times she was stern, redirecting me away from the computer when it interferred with family life, and at times she was patient, assuring me that my time would come.

Finally, she said something to me that changed my mindset and brought everything into focus. It exposed my selfish desires and humbled me.

We were standing in the kitchen and I once again expressed my discouragement over yet another rejection. "Micheal," she said. "Do you believe God has called you to write?"

I didn't even hesitate. "Yes. Absolutely. I know it in my heart. I just don't understand why it's taking so long."

"Then it will happen. In His time. In the meantime, live like it's already happened."

That hit me. Those five words. Live like it's already happened. That takes faith, you know? That's putting your heart where your mouth is and going beyond words and platitudes.

I took her advice and put the whole writing thing in God's hands. I stopped trying to control something that was completely out of my control. This was God's deal not mine. I finally understood that. And in the meantime, I would walk by my faith and not just talk about it. And be content with whatever God had in mind.

A year later I went to a writer's conference where the ball started rolling. Less than a year after that I signed my first contract.

Listen, I know many reading this are aspiring writers, maybe established writers. You believe God has called you to write. You believe it in your bones. That's great, but please realize He'll use you how and when He wants to use you. It may be by getting published and reaching thousands with your words, or it may be by writing for your church newsletter and reaching one who needs to hear exactly what you've written. Whether you reach thousands or one it's all good, it's all for Him.

And in the meantime, while you're writing and waiting, hoping and praying . . . live like it's already happened.


Jillian Kent said...

Great words. Awesome advice. If every aspiring writer can live those words it would make a world of difference for them.

I'm grateful to have a contract, but if I would have lived like it had already happened I would probably have a lot more product to show for it. In this wild ride of e-publishing and the changing face of publishing it can't hurt to have a lot of product. And with that comes practice, confidence building, and a better writer.

Thanks Mike!

Ellen Andersen said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm working on a memoir and don't know what'll happen with it (or when it'll be done). But God's called me to do it. My job is to write. The rest is up to Him.

Nikole Hahn said...

Funny, I am doing that now, living like it happened. I used to worry, too, until God really shook my world and made me realize He's got this under control.

Mike Dellosso said...

Jill, I tell writers all the time that when they finish one project get to work on the next one :)

Ellen, you have a great attitude. Love it!

Nikole, sounds like you have a story there. Would love to hear it sometime . . .

Vanessa Zahel said...

Great timing! God's timing I'm sure. I absolutely needed this advice at this exact moment. Thank you so much. It's so easy to let worry, lack of action and fear of rejection change your focus. The fear of "maybe" or "what if" can get me everytime, IF I let it. I have to remember that a calling from God is not dictated by what others say about me, but what He has said about me. I know what I know and I will cling to that.

Redwood's Medical Edge said...


These are great things to keep in mind particularly in the valley's of the writing life.

Mark said...

great post, and great advice

Bruce Hennigan said...

I had a similar experience. After a long bout with depression, my pastor asked me to co-author a book on depression. We worked on the book for six months and, literally the first editor that we met with for lunch gave us a contract. I thought, "Man, this is easier than I thought."
But, when I decided to go out on my own, things changed and I had a moment of crisis when I realized that perhaps God wanted me to write only that one book and never write again. I had dreamed of writing fiction since I was 13. And so, I gave it all to God. I said, "God, whatever you want me to do with my writing, it's yours. If I never write anything ever again, I will accept that and all I want is to do your will." That was one of the hardest prayers I ever uttered.
Now, here I am 12 years later, but I have a multi-book contract. I woke up that next morning with the story for my first book all there in my head.
It is not easy. It is a long, tedious process. You don't FIND time to write, you MAKE time to write. But, if you persevere, you can fulfill God's calling to be a writer.
Thanks for the inspiring post.