Most days I check my blog stats and feel mildly morose when they drop below 10 readers a day (I’d be depressed all the time if I picked a higher number), even when it’s my own fault because I haven’t posted anything–or anything interesting–in a while. But even though I half-consciously want the whole world to read my blog, I don’t usually actively remember that I am a writer. Probably because even when blogging, I am not actively a writer–at least, I’m not living in a writer’s world, where publishing might actually happen and I’m intentionally going for it.
Then every so often something happens which reminds me that I am one and should start acting like it. It’s not that anything really significant ever comes out of these moments (although sometimes it looks like it’s going to). It’s just that they kind of remind me that I seem to have this word-gift and it might quite possibly be the best gift I have and the least-used one in my arsenal. (Can you have an arsenal of gifts?) One of these times was when I went to the writers’ conference advocated by college friend Sarah Arthur. (She has a great last name for an author, especially if she lived in New England where the r’s would drop out.) The next time was when Lloyd Alexander died and I magically got invited to a memorial event for him in New York City. It wasn’t about my own writing at all, except that there were all these writerly types there, and also he had had very strong connexions to Cricket magazine. I had sent them Trees in the Pavement before Christian Focus Publications picked it up, and they kept it for a long time, deciding, and wrote a very nice and complimentary letter about it to me, even though they ultimately turned it down.
Recently when I was having one of my “but wait–don’t I want to stay single?” moments, my parents said something like, “We would never presume to tell you that we know who God wants you to marry, but you do realise, don’t you, that we’ve been praying for a godly husband for you for years and especially this year because you said you wanted to be in a relationship leading toward marriage by Christmas?” (It’s a good thing I had temporarily forgotten that until they said it, because otherwise a pretty good case could be made that my motives for dating The Boyfriend are suspect. But I really had.) Although it might not seem like it to someone who doesn’t believe in praying, that comment was something of a reality check.
It was also a reminder, though. It reminded me that the thing about the relationship had simply been a New Year’s wish, and that my stated New Year’s goal had been to finish my next novel and be putting some serious effort into getting it published. Rats. Like a New Year’s resolution, that idea had started out well. But I haven’t looked at the thing in months. I started feeling a little bit convicted.
Then I got a sort of “plastic-burlap” bag in the mail. The last time I got anything like that, it was the bunch of copies of Trees in the Pavement I ordered soon after it was published in 2008, and the tag on this sack did say “Royal Mail” on it (Trees was published in Scotland), so at first I was afraid that CFP had despaired of ever selling another copy and that they were sending me the surplus. But when I opened it, I discovered it was copies of another book–What the Bible Means to Me–in which I have a chapter. It’s a compilation of essays from a whole bunch of more or less famous people about . . . what the Bible means to them. I’m not sure how anyone would think that what the Bible means to me is as significant as what it means to J.I. Packer (who also has a chapter in there) . . . I like the concept, though, which is that, great and small, the Bible is relevant and meaningful to people across cultures and other demographic markers.
And so . . . hey waitasecond! I’m in another published book! The writing theme continues to emerge.
And then the other day I got an email from a person I had never heard of from Seattle University School of Theology.
I’ve been hearing from and communicating with Schools of Theology a lot lately, but fortunately for The Boyfriend, this one is not one that I’m contemplating attending. Nor are they contemplating me as a student. Actually, apparently they want me to talk there. For forty-five minutes! Good grief. The first paragraph of the email went like this:
On behalf of the School of Theology and Ministry, it is my pleasure to welcome you as a featured author confirmed for participation at Search for Meaning: Pacific Northwest Spirituality Book Festival. Search for Meaning will provide a convergence of readers and prospective readers with talented local authors who have expertise in many different genres related to spirituality and theology. We are delighted to count you among our participants.
Now, I couldn’t exactly say this was the first I had heard of this event. My beloved friend KS-Christie (KS stands for “Kansas,” where she’s from, and “Kindred Spirit”), who is about as determined to get me writing as I am to be lazy about it, recommended me for this event ages ago. The thing is, this was the first I had heard about it from the people organising it. I wondered how it was possible that I was a confirmed participant when I hadn’t even received an initial invite and confirmed myself. Then I wondered how I was going to afford to get to this thing. I brought this up at the Women’s Bible Study at my church today as a prayer request (seriously), and one of the women immediately offered to buy my ticket if I’d pick up the taxes and fees. She was not going to take “no” for an answer, so apparently I’m going to Seattle in February to talk to a whole bunch of people about meaning via a children’s novel about refugees in London. The main reason for the email I received was for the program coordinator to gain information–my full name and the title of my book(s?), and the title of my presentation. I thought about this for a minute and decided on Displaced: Finding Meaning Outside the Comfort Zone. I have, as yet, no idea what that means.
Speaking of meaning.
All this to say, I’m a little excited and a little nervous and now I have a new motivation to wrap up the prep work on the novel Favored One, because I want at least to be able to say I have another novel actually in the works, when I get there.