Happy December, Blogging Family! As most of you know, December is particularly significant for us. This year, we commemorated the sixth anniversary since my accident on the 3rd, then celebrated Ivan’s 30th birthday on the 7th. Up next are Christmas Eve/Christmas, our 7th wedding anniversary on the 30th, and New Year’s Eve on the 31st. I admit this might not seem too busy to those of you who are traveling for the holidays, but it’s a whole lot if you consider the life event each day represents. (For example, I was in a coma on Ivan’s twenty-fourth birthday, and he got kicked out of my hospital room at 8:30 pm on our first anniversary because visiting hours were over.)
I usually end the year with a retrospective look at how God’s worked in our lives over the past year. Don’t get me wrong – he’s continued accomplishing transformative work throughout 2022 – but today I want to focus on what he’s bringing to pass in 2023.
If you’ve followed this blog a while, you might have noticed recurring comments asking about a book. We got the highest number in 2017, when the accident was still fresh in everyone’s minds and my health status changed almost week to week. (Not fun to live, but apparently an entertaining read!)
In 2019 I earned a BA in English and several faculty members encouraged me to apply to graduate school. I wasn’t really sure. Around that time some of my blog posts got reposted by larger bloggers like Joni Eareckson Tada, and I realized God could be preparing a way for me. What if there really was something I could write that would encourage people and witness for Christ, even if they didn’t know me directly?
After some prayer and deliberation, I applied to a few online creative writing programs. By God’s grace, I was accepted to my top choice (the Savannah College of Art and Design – aka SCAD) and awarded the financial aid I needed to attend. I also learned an important fact during the application process: in order to graduate from SCAD’s creative writing program, I’d have to write a publishable manuscript as my thesis. It all seemed so clear: wasn’t this God’s way of telling me to write my story as a book?
I felt deliriously high after completing my thesis. It’s one thing to say you’re going to write a book – but then to go out and do it? That’s tough stuff. To top it all off, my committee chair actually thought I should try to get it published. Well, as Mom used to tell me, “If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
I began contacting literary agents right away, but no one would talk to me. (In the publishing world, most authors sign with a literary agent, who then negotiates with publishers on their behalf.) At first I brushed it off by reminding myself that all debut authors get scores of rejections before someone finally accepts them, but three months into the process I fell into the depths of despair.
As Fall Quarter began in September, I surrendered my manuscript to the Lord. Maybe God just wanted me to have the experience of learning to write a book. Maybe seeking publication was just my pride rearing its ugly head. I spent the next couple of months investing more time in getting to know the girls at our church and studying God’s word. Until the urge to contact “just one more” publisher struck me at the end of October. I did a little research and found one house that didn’t require an agent. I remember sending my proposal and thinking “Here goes, God. I have no idea what you want me to do after this.”
To my surprise, I got a timely response asking for the rest of the manuscript. No one had asked to see the entire manuscript before. I called Ivan, trying to sound low-key. “I mean, they could hate it.”
“But it is a big step,” Ivan countered.
“Yes – a step.”
I screwed my eyes shut as I opened the publisher’s reply. I was expecting the two- or three-sentence “Thanks but no thanks” I’d been getting all year. What I saw instead was several paragraphs. I’d expected a short correspondence before a “yes/no,” but our conversation continued via various formats for about six weeks. I was surprised to learn how many factors other than good writing go into publishing a book! God was faithful throughout the entire process. Ivan and I are extremely happy to announce I signed a publishing contract with Shepherd Press this past Monday. There will be lots of editing and revising for me to do before the book goes to print, but we hope to release it some time in 2023. And don’t worry – it is never-before-posted material. So even the most hardcore blog readers will find something new. 😊
I’m thankful the Lord made me wait all the way until the end of the year for this “Christmas present.” If I’d gotten an agent or publisher directly after I finished writing my thesis, I can just imagine how self-satisfied I would have been. I’m sure I would have said humble-ish things to other people, but I’d have secretly been congratulating myself on wowing my thesis committee and taking the publishing world by storm. This way, I’m aware of how little my manuscript interests the average person who hasn’t met me. Strangers don’t care if my writing got a good grade, they just want to be entertained, and my message about God’s grace in trials isn’t very fun. I’m very thankful God guided me to Christian colleagues who want to honor God in all they do, and who do not see as the world sees, but instead look at the heart.
Last but not least, this experience has reminded me of how precious each and every one of you are, my Blogging Family! As I’ve spent time thinking about numbers and geography over the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by how blessed I am to have readers who’ve laughed, cried, and prayed for Ivan and me over the past six years. Some of you we will meet only in heaven, but we are so thankful for your support and your willingness to keep walking with us in God’s grace.