Intermission

The phone call from my agent was less a thunderclap and more a gentle spring shower.

I’d finished the darn manuscript three years ago, gotten picked up by an agent a yearimagesCA00AB3C later, so how on earth could it take so long to find a publisher?

I read with fierce anxiety every rejection from major publishers. In truth, they were nice rejections, with compliments woven in, but a rejection all the same. I prefer to call them ‘redirections’. I do that because it is pretty hard to get that many rejections, although most manuscripts don’t even get a thorough read by the big boys, so there’s that.

But I thought being represented by an agent guaranteed a publishing contract in ten minutes.books and coffee nook intermission

Haha. Nope.

So I muddled around, thinking about what I should do in the meantime. I’m not a person who can just . . . be okay waiting. Surely I could hurry the process along. Isn’t that what we all think in the waiting? We have to do something.

I wrote more stuff. I prayed. I asked God if this wasn’t the right direction, should I just quit writing? Should I change course and write magazine articles? Should I work for one of those ten-cents-per-word blog writer companies? Work out more? Take up knitting? Get more cats?

This ‘being a writer’ thing is not as cool and interesting as it appears. A lot of time is spent writing into a void and I’m a person that needs encouragement. I still can’t figure out why I’ve always felt an inner urge to do this. I am the most needy and impatient person on earth and I don’t handle rejection well. A writer, by definition, is nearly synonymous with rejection.

I’ve learned a lot about waiting the past couple of years. Waiting means that eventually, the right thing to do will make itself known and nothing I can do or say will make it green arrow on stairshappen on my timetable. Oh I can bluster something in, ignore red flags, knock down doors that should remain closed and make the wrong thing happen and spend a couple years on a disaster detour,  but I’ve done that before and don’t want to do it again.

I’ve learned how to be content in the waiting, trusting that my prayers are heard and my desires are noted. I can trust the process if I’ve done the right things and have the right heart attitude. I’ve learned I can enjoy myself in the waiting, do stuff that I might not have time to do if I am busy meeting deadlines. I don’t have to sputter and spew complaints all over everyone that I’ve not ‘arrived’ yet or that people are just not ‘getting’ what I’ve accomplished.  I’ve learned not to pull the plug too fast on something, but wait. Be patient. I’m still learning how to do that, but I’m definitely better than I was.

I’m learning that just sitting in the chair and putting my hands on the keyboard will yield something, anything; and that is better than nothing. Waiting is a great time to practice whatever skill or endeavor the waiting is attached to. Waiting also exposes the good, the bad and the ugly inside me, which gives me the opportunity to work on becoming a better person.

I wonder if there are many things quite as hard as waiting on something wonderful we’ve decided we must have. Problem is, often it isn’t something we just have to have. It may be a burning desire, but not an actual need. I didn’t have to ‘be something’ in order to validate myself or prove that I am a worthwhile human being. It’s been hard, but I’m learning to let go of the belief that my identity is wrapped up in what I do instead of bible intermissionwho I am. So I went sighing and moaning to God and gave him my desire to be a novelist, told Him it was all His anyway, so there.

And that was the week I got the call. By that time, I barely cared. The hold it had on me was broken. I was happy when I got the contract offer, but not overly impressed with myself. I was humbled instead. God gave me a gift! I want to be responsible and take care of it, but I’m no longer panting with desire or pushing and prodding and forcing it to happen through sheer self-will. cozy nook time intermission

It didn’t happen on my timetable. It happened when I quit trying so hard and caring too much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Two Letters

One of the most powerful words in the English language is ‘no’. Two simple letters that pack a huge punch.

Be it an overloaded calendar, an unruly or inappropriate co-worker, a toxic relationship or activity, an adult child or friend that has over-extended his need for money; if we are still above ground and breathing we have a choice.

So…no.

No to those things that steal my time and joy. No to over-commitments that add nothing to my life or those precious ones around me. No to jobs that suck out my heart and soul and mind. No to conversations that give me a panic attack. No to lies that attack my mind and soul. No to immoral, profane and horror-filled shows that fill my nights with dread. No to dead ends, no matter how peer-pressured I feel to pursue them.

There are way too many ‘yes moments’ to live consumed with guilt because we didn’t say no to something.

So…yes.

Yes to thoughtful and mind-provoking discourse. Yes to relationships that encourage and lift up. Yes to shows that have a wholesome message and inspiring ending. Yes to a thought-life filled with positive and inspiring truths. Yes to people that need help and utilize it to make a positive change. Yes to church. Yes to a life filled with the wonder of the supernatural, living God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Yes to hope. Yes to life. Yes to joy. Yes, yes, yes!

Exercising the ‘no’ muscle is often painful, but the benefits can be endless and eternal.

Think about it.

Crimestalkers of the Lowcountry

On some kind of mission to validate my obsession with cop shows and crime thrillers, I jumped at the chance to attend an eight-week ‘Citizen’s Police Academy’ put on by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

I figured, yeah, I’d be one of about five people there.

When I got there at six on the dot, all seats were taken in a room that held about 40 people! The uniformed instructor noticed my wide-eyed hesitation and motioned me to the front. He pulled a chair out of thin air and shoved it at me. I sat.

The class lasts from 6-9 p.m. and there’s a break in between. During the breakbadge.jpg I noticed not one person under 50, and most were over 65. So far we’ve covered Civil Process, Environmental Crimes, Training & Firearms Simulator. Also Domestic Violence, Juvenile Services and Crime Scene Investigation . . . and everyone’s favorite grisly thrill: Forensics.

I just want you to know that personally, I felt a tingle when standing within four inches of actual bloody clothes from a local crime hanging in the Sheriff’s Office investigative forensics area in their nifty little blood-drying machine. Did you know a haze of superglue whooshed onto a surface will reveal perfect fingerprints? No? Did you know that DNA evidence takes up to six months to process, and if it’s a complex murder and a rush is put on it, six weeks is pretty standard?

Well, now you and I both know. The crime shows lie to us. Crimes are NOT wrapped up in a box and tied with a bow by the end of one hour. I was told ‘The First 48’ is an accurate depiction of what actually happens, so I’ve added that show to my list. It’s a wonder I can even sleep at night.

I’ve met investigators (one looks and acts just like Donnie Wahlberg, who plays Danny on Blue Bloods, honest to God) and Lieutenant Colonels and School Resource Officers, Deputy Sheriffs and Sergeants and more.  One of our instructors was Lieutenant Colonel Baxley, who commandeered the massive emergency effort for the most devastating hurricane to hit Hilton Head Island in fifty years – Hurricane Matthew. I wanted to hug him.

It’s made me wonder if I missed my calling. Visions of ‘Rizzoli and Isles’ or ‘Law and Order’ or ‘Criminal Minds’ roll through my head, only I’m the investigator catching all the bad guys.

I’m still a little dazed by the senior citizen preoccupation with this class. What is it that draws people to this stuff like flies to honey? Is it the fascination with the psychopathy of the serial killer? Is it the fight for justice? Is it our deep, overriding desire to see wrongs in our own life fought for and corrected? Is it a hankering to figure out the mystery of a crime?

Well, okay, it’s probably because we are all retired, but still . . .

For me, I wanted to get scenes right in my books, but it’s become more than that. It’s filling some unsatiated desire of mine lurking in the background. It energizes me, empowers me. Is this weird?

One thing for sure, l feel privileged after listening to several of Beaufort County’s brightest and best teach a topic and spend time answering question after question. These men and women put their lives on the line every day, 24/7. I’m grateful they took time out of their hectic, stressful schedules to participate in the Citizen’s Academy.

Next week we learn about Professional Responsibility and Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events. (Insert wide-eyed emoji here.) And as a happy bonus, on Saturday we are all headed to Beaufort to the pistol range to get a tour, watch Special Ops in action and partake of some target practice.

Graduation is October 16, and Sheriff Tanner will present us with certificates. After graduation, we have the option to sign up for a ride-along with a patrol officer!

Be still my heart.