It’s NANOWRIMO time again, which means I’ve had my head buried in my laptop, frantically trying to crank out 50,000 words in the month of November. To put that into perspective, based on my first novel word/page count, for me that’s around 180 pages of writing. I’m on page 22.
I have my work cut out for me.
But this morning I was grappling with some thoughts on my calling as a writer, and felt moved to share this in my weekly blog.
What kicked it off was a sermon I missed over the weekend. Darn these Indiana sinus infections—I get three or four a year, and I guess I was due. So I chose to keep my germs home this weekend. But I thoroughly enjoy our pastor’s sermons, so when I can’t be at church I download the audio clips and listen to them on my way into work.
This weekend’s sermon had absolutely nothing to do with writing. It was on adoption, actually. A topic that is near and dear to the heart of many of my friends. But he also mentioned to keep your mind open, and to listen for your calling. Somewhere along in the message, Pastor Ron said these words:
“Vision without Action is a Daydream.
Action without Vision is a Nightmare.
But Vision and Action together can CHANGE THE WORLD.”
Well, I’m a sucker for inspirational quotes. Especially when they move me, and this one sure did. So much so, that I made a few posters up at work to hang in my office, and out by our Canned Food Drive basket, which has sat empty for a month now, waiting for us to take time out from our busy lives and remember to bring something in. Guilty as charged, but I’m off to change that.
Anyway, I sat down at my desk and suddenly just felt all…lost. Lost at work, lost as a Christian, lost as a blossoming writer. I want to write, feel called to do so, but was I buried in the action without a clear vision?
So I did what I usually do when I get writing on the brain—I texted my wonderful friend and mentor, Shirley Jump.
Now, if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet Shirley (either online or in person), she’s an amazing woman. Very selfless, always quick to respond to questions—whether about writing, fashion, or yes, even “I’m feeling lost today” drama. She’s also an amazing, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author—check out her expansive catalog on Amazon here. And her incredible shoe collection? Well, that could take an entire other blog…or five.
Shirley writes romance. Yes, she’s got a few titles that venture into women’s fiction or YA (young adult), but her main focus is romance. Well, I’ve struggled at bit putting myself in that category. When you talk to readers, they tend to either love it or hate it. And I’m not a big fan of being hated, so the perception of romance novels as being “smutty” or “girly” or whatever makes me…uneasy. I don’t want to be cast aside by future readers because of some aversion to the genre (though it is by far what’s driving the publishing world today).
So here I was, feeling lost after being moved by our sermon to listen for our “callings”—was romance truly what I should be writing? Or should I shift to another genre, something that felt a little more in line with my recent calling to write?
And Shirley, in one simple text response, helped ease my worries. She wrote, “I don’t write inspirational but I do feel called—or meant to—or whatever label you want to put on it, to write romance. To write those stories that restore people’s belief in love and family. Others feel called to write suspense where good always wins over evil. You don’t have to write inspirational books to fit your beliefs and God’s mission for you as a writer… you have to write what your heart tells you is the right thing for YOU to write.”
I wrote back and thanked her for her inspirational words, because they were exactly what I needed today.
You see, I’m not writing to become a millionaire, or because I want to be famous. I’m writing because it’s a way that I feel I can help people. We live in difficult times, with the economy a mess, wars, hunger, pain, and suffering. But we also live in an amazing time—one with technology that truly makes the sky the limit. I hope that my books can offer readers a chance to escape from reality for a few hours/days/weeks (I’m a slow reader, don’t know about you.) That my writing can give them hope, inspire them to reach for their dreams, and to never give up.
Because right now, that’s what my heart is telling me to do.
It’s my calling.