The Unexpected

Sometimes, the writing journey feels like a never-ending slab of cement. Cold. Hard. Monotonous. You send out queries. Nothing happens. You get a request for a partial or a full. Nothing happens. You write and you write and you write and you wait and you wait and you wait. And you wonder.

What if this is it?

What if this never happens?

What if I stand on this cement for ever and ever?

I know those questions. Because I asked them many times. While I stood on my own personal slab of cement, not-knowing if I’d ever get off. Wondering if anything was happening.

But I also learned something. Not once I got a contract. But before. In the midst of the waiting.

God is working.

Maybe in the way we want Him to work. Maybe not. Either way, He’s working. Until eventually you look down and there, growing up from the cracks, is something unexpected. Something that doesn’t belong. Something you didn’t think you’d see until you hopped off your cement onto the green-covered hills of publication.

Maybe it’s a friend you didn’t think you would make. Or a piece of writing that revealed a truth you didn’t grasp until you wrote it. Or that person at work who asked to read your story and when you let her, it left a mark. Maybe it’s simply finding peace in the midst of the unknown. Or the joy that comes when we let go and trust.

That He’s working. He has a purpose for why you are where you are. He has things He wants to show you. Ways He wants to use you. Things He wants to give you. You just have to be willing to look past your expectations and see them.

Let’s Talk: What unexpected gifts have you found on your journey?removetweetmeme



Writers know this word. We are well-acquainted with it. Because we yearn for so many things.
A contest final. An agent. A chance. A contract. We long for our words to be read. For our stories to touch lives. We long for affirmation–that all this time and all this sweat and all these tears will matter. We yearn for our hopes to take shape and grow into something we can hold – like a book.
Lately, I’ve been yearning.
It has nothing to do with writing. But it still feels the same. That deep-down longing for something that isn’t happening. A heaviness that presses against my heart. An unmet desire. An ache. And sometimes…..or maybe lots of times…a fear.
What if this doesn’t happen?
You only have to be human to understand that question. Because we all yearn. Each and every one of us. And it’s never comfortable. I have never met a person who enjoys the feeling. I have never heard anyone say, “Man, this is great! Give me some more please.”
That’s silly.
And yet…
There are times, in the quietness of the morning, where I find myself thanking God for the discomfort.
Not because I’m such a patient and long-suffering person (my husband is laughing right now). But because the ache draws me closer to Him. The deeper the ache, the tighter I cling. And the tighter I cling, the more I realize something.
He’s what I want. He satisfies the yearning.
Not the fruition of my dreams. Because dreams beget more dreams. Not getting what I want. Because gifts only stay shiny for so long.
But Jesus.
It’s about loving Him no matter if He gives me what I’m yearning for or not. It’s about trusting that He has a purpose. And maybe His purpose is better than mine.
My latest obsession in music right now is a song called Blessings, by Laura Story. I think it is breathtaking.

What if my greatest disappointments, the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? -Laura Story
The pain reminds this heart that this is not our home. -Laura Story
Don’t you just love those lines? They make me think of yearning in a whole new way.
Let’s Talk: What are you yearning for these days?


A Wait Well Worth It

On Friday I promised an announcement. So here I go.
Journal Entry:
Sometimes I wonder, do I want to keep doing this? I don’t mean writing – but writing for publication. Two rejections in one night and I’m feeling very deflated….

Last January, my book went out on submission. A fun little land, filled with hopes, fears, heartache, and a whole lot of waiting. Nothing too exciting happened until March, when my story made it through editorial committee and was slotted for pub board in April (to learn more about the process toward publication, see this post by my agent).

That entire month, I checked my email an insane amount of times and kept my phone with me wherever I went, just in case there would be news. But news never came. Not that month. Or the month after. Or the month after that. Discouragement crept in. I stopped obsessing over email. I stopped twitching every time my phone rang. The fact that my book could go to pub board at any time didn’t feel real anymore. My hope dwindled.

Fast forward seven months.

Yes. Seven months.
The Story:
I’m rushing around after work, trying to get changed so I can head out the door to a school committee meeting. Hubby’s on my computer, so I interrupt and check my email. Literally, I’m hopping on one foot, shoving the other in a shoe, impatiently waiting for Gmail to load so I can get to the meeting on time. Pub board’s the last thing on my mind.

Up pops Gmail and mixed in a pile of junk, my agent’s name. The subject line reads: Don’t get your hopes up too much yet but….

I must have misread it at first, because my hopes plummet. You see, I’d received some disappointing emails the week prior (hence, the journal entry) and was primed for letdown.

But I read Rachelle’s email, find out my book went to pub committee, and it was met with a very favorable response. My body goes all wonky. Like I’m entering into premature menopause and it can’t decide whether to be hot or cold. In the midst of some serious heart-palpitations, I think. Wait a minute. Doesn’t that mean….?

Nope. Not yet.

There’s one more level of approval to pass through and because of vacations, I won’t hear anything until November.

Fast forward a week and a half. Still October.

I’m sitting at my desk, gearing up for the Halloween party at the end of the day. One kiddo’s beside me doing math – a little guy who looks more like a 1st grader than a 5th. Nobody calls me during the school day. I don’t even know why I have my phone on. So when it buzzes, I glance at the screen, expecting one of those annoying voice-automated telemarketers with an unfamiliar area code.

Instead, my screen says Rachelle.

Everything stops.

It’s just me and that phone.

But I can’t answer it. I’m in school. All I can do is stare at the buzzing while a million thoughts and prayers pop inside my brain. Pop. Pop. Pop. Like heated popcorn kernels. None of them coherent. Not a single, solitary one.

The buzzing stops.

The kiddo at my desk asks me a question, but I can’t process his words.

The screen lights up. Rachelle left a message. Oh my gosh. She left a message. My heartbeat turns manic. My breathing gets shallow. I press the one on my keypad and smash the phone against my ear. I might start rocking at this point. I’m not sure.

A friendly voice: Hi Katie, it’s Rachelle, and this is the call you’ve been waiting for….

Oh. My. Goodness.
I cannot breathe.

I cannot think.

I cannot scream.

I cannot do anything.

I am surrounded by 5th graders.

Poor kid at my desk looks at me funny and backs away, like I’m going to throw up on him. Instead, I put my face in my hands and let this moment wash over me – this absolutely insane, hand-trembling, thick-throated, are-you-freaking-kidding-me moment. I’m going to be published.And I know this is the biggest cliché in the world. But man. That thought? It took my breath away.

Here’s the thing.

There were A LOT of moments, from the time I started writing my first novel, to Rachelle’s phone call, that I had some serious doubts about whether this would happen. I mean, for serious, for real doubts. The journal entry up at the top? It’s not the only one like that. My hopes had run the gamut. Super high when I got some bites. Super low, when rejection followed. But mostly – stuck in neutral. I remember thinking I’d wait forever. That I’d be this gray-haired, wrinkled, age-spotted, ninety-year old woman still waiting on pub board. People would say, “This will happen for you, Katie.” But the small voice in my head would whisper, “Yeah. But what if it doesn’t?”

Yet somewhere in the midst of all the uncertainty, something pretty amazing happened. Something Lina AbuJamra put so eloquently in a recent post.

Waiting, she said, is part of the process. It makes you who Christ wants you to be.
I love these words. I experience these words. While waiting for an agent. While waiting for pub board. While waiting for the contract. And for all the waits that are sure to come. God meets us in the waiting. He blesses us. He keeps us on our knees. He draws us nearer to Him. He molds our character and teaches us to trust. He asks us to be still. And in that stillness, He reminds us why He gave us this passion in the first place. A reason that has nothing to do with book contracts and advances, and everything to do with telling stories that matter.
So if stories burn in your heart, keep writing. No matter what happens, no matter where you are on this journey, no matter how long the wait, keep telling those stories. Write what matters, and trust God to take care of the rest.
The Details:
Later that night, I spoke with my stellar agent, Rachelle Gardner (who’s making all kinds of dreams come true these days). She assured me this was real. It was happening. She got excited with me. And she filled me in on the details. Waterbrook Multnomah, a division of Random House, offered me a 2-book contract. Sometime next year, I’ll get to hold my very first published book in my hands. And that, my friend, is absolutely insane.

The happiest trip to Staples I’ve ever taken!

Had to stare at this awhile. Just to make sure it was real.
Fun Give-Away: The ever-lovely Keli Gwyn (who just snagged a book deal of her own) offered to kick off the celebration with some chocolate! One random commenter will get this bag of yumminess. Thanks Keli!

Let’s Talk: What are your dreams? What makes them worth chasing? Have you ever struggled with waiting or feeling discouraged? What have you learned on your journey?

And THANKS for coming to celebrate with me! I’m so humbled and grateful to have such a supportive, encouraging group of people to share this moment with. It makes this journey all the richer!