Please welcome this weeks guest Anne Mateer for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
My writing journey began way back in middle school, when I dreamed of someday writing historical fiction. I was quite prolific through my teenaged years. However, through college, marriage and early motherhood, my writing declined to fits and starts. But in 2000, when my youngest child went to kindergarden, I embarked on the writing life with a new perseverance and consistency. When I started on this “real” writing life, I thought it was just about writing and publication. Boy, was I wrong!
The story of how I have seen God work in my writing journey is a story of faith. Of growth. Of roots going deep and branches being pruned and fruit appearing. Not publication as fruit, though that did happen, but the fruit of the spirit being worked in my life in ways I didn’t expect. Turns out that at its core, my writing journey hasn’t really been about writing at all. It’s been about conforming me to the image of Christ.
- God used rejection to remind me that obedience, not “success”, is what He desires from me. He’s also used rejection to grow my trust in His plan, not my own.
- God used writing to sand off the edges of laziness and the desire for “easy” over hard work, reminding me that diligence and a teachable spirit are the keys to navigating not just a writing career but everything from relationships to difficult situations. I have learned that He truly is strong in my weakness.
- God used my unusual path to publication to show me that I can rest in His plan instead of trying to force my desires into reality. While I still plan my steps, I know that He is the one who directs where they lead. And the path He designs is always better than the one my feet would have taken me down. I’ve learned to trust His goodness, even when it sometimes feels like a pointless detour.
- The Lord used writing to teach me to prioritize my family. So many times I wanted to just do my thing and let them fend for themselves. Yet every time I set my work aside and served my family, I saw blessing–both in those relationships and in my writing. I learned that God honors sacrifice from a heart that longs to please Him first.
- The Lord has used writing to nudge me toward relationship with others. As a result first of attending conferences, then publication, my world has expanded in just the sheer number of people I know. At first this was uncomfortable and frightening, but every day I see the Lord expanding my heart to include new friends, praying for them, promoting them, encouraging them. He has used writing to move the focus from myself to others, which now includes my readers.
- I’ve learned how to rejoice with those who are rejoicing even while I want to weep for my own unfulfilled dreams and expectations. And I’ve learned to weep with those who are weeping, even while my success might have had a part in fueling their tears. It is an amazing thing to set aside your own emotions and desires and to enter instead into another person’s joy or anguish.
Just because I have now reached the stage of publication doesn’t mean the writing journey overtakes the growth journey. In fact, just before I received my first publishing contract in 2010, I re-read Hannah Hurnard’s classic allegory Hinds Feet on High Places. In that book I saw so clearly many things the Lord had taught me on the ten year journey of writing. But when I closed the book, I felt like He said something else. That the journey wouldn’t end with publication, that signing a contract was a momentary lull on a ledge on the face of the mountain. The climb from here would become a steeper. It would require greater faith, deeper trust. I would have to hold more tightly to Him.
In the past two years, I have found that to be true. God is still working in amazing ways in my writing, but not just in the words on the page or the books in the stores. It is still primarily a work He is doing in me. A work that will last much longer than my books or my name. His work in me will be on display for all eternity.
Anne’s book At Every Turn will be released on September 1, 2012. It is available at any major bookstore such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Borders.
Anne Mateer is a novelist with a long-standing passion for history and historical fiction. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults. Learn more at www.annemateer.com or visit her on facebook at www.facebook.com/authorannemateer.