Three years ago, I published All of This, a young adult novel. Before the book even came out – pretty much the day after I finished revising the story – I wrote a sequel. That was three years ago.
For three years, I’ve known what happens after that final sentence in All of This. For three years, I’ve had the answers to the biggest questions readers are left wondering about.
Three years ago, I began writing a story that challenged me more as a writer than any other manuscript I’d written. I delved deeper into the mind of my main character and wrote some storylines that freaked me out a little because I wondered if I’d be able to pull them off.
I’ve loved that new project for three years, and I had plans to have it in the hands of readers long before now.
But then I felt God nudging me to grad school, and I moved away from home for the first time.
I stepped onto campus as a full-time Masters student and quickly learned that’s a whole other level than earning a bachelor’s degree. I found a local church, began to serve there, and joined a small group. I picked up a couple part time jobs. I grew friendships. I wrote guests posts for my school’s women’s blog, I spoke about writing in a few classes, I traveled, and I did everyday life stuff like cooking and cleaning and learning to keep plants alive (still working on that last one).
But I never forgot about that writing project.
For a while, I tried to work on it here and there. After all, the story was told – it just needed some work to make it look like an actual book. But homework kept me up late into the night and classes got me up early each morning.
I was so frustrated. When I’m not writing, I don’t fully feel like myself. I really thought I was supposed to tell that story, and I prayed about it. But I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t make it happen.
Then a little while ago, I realized something: Maybe God was asking me to trust Him with my dreams. Maybe He wanted my full attention on studying ministry during my time in seminary. Maybe He wanted to grow me in other areas, allow me to live new experiences, teach me my identity isn’t found in my author title.
When I realized that, I did something difficult: I stepped away.
I still thought about the story I loved so much. Still jotted some notes down here and there. But I didn’t consistently spend time with the manuscript. And while that bothered me a lot, it also felt like relief.
See, I had to learn to live with open hands. I had to put the story – and my heart for writing – in my outstretched palms and hold it out to God. I had to say, “Even if I never get to share this story with readers. Even if my life takes me in a different direction. You know my heart and you designed me with this passion on purpose. So I trust you.”
Even if…I trust You.
And that’s how I’m slowly learning to live. Not just with storytelling, but with all things.
I like to feel a sense of control. A lot. But there’s freedom in knowing it’s not up to you to hold it all together. And if your faith is in Christ, you have solid hope that He knows what He’s doing and He has His glory and your ultimate good in mind.
I had to learn to be okay with answering people’s questions with, “I honestly don’t know when the story will be finished. I’m focusing on school right now.”
Which felt weird to say because I wrote two manuscripts while I was a full-time college student – one of which became All of This. Letting go of the story also went against the writing advice we hear all the time: “Just keep writing. Write something every day. If if matters to you, you’ll make time for it.”
All of that can be really great advice. But when you’ve given your life to living God’s plan for you, the best advice is to trust. To give your dreams and plans and projects to Him and trust Him to use them however He wants.
Now that I’ve said all of that…I’ve graduated. I have my diploma in my apartment. I’m not spending my evenings with my nose in a commentary. I’m going to bed at a reasonable time (who even am I??).
And I’m writing again.
I’ve dusted off that sequel, and I’m diving into it as often as I can. I’ve learned some things over the past few years that I’m able to pour into the story to make it stronger. I have a renewed sense of purpose for it, more energy to rearrange scenes and fill in plot holes, and even more of a desire to get the story into the hands of readers.
I don’t know what’s next for this project. I don’t have any ideas about when it’ll be completely done or how it’ll be published or when you’ll read it.
But honestly? That doesn’t scare me as much now. Because I’ve recently been reminded of why I do what I do in the first place: To point to King Jesus in all things.
It’s all by His grace and for His glory.
Question: Have you ever set something aside for a season, even though you loved it? What did you learn from the experience?
The first printed copy of my latest manuscript – ready for some serious editing!