Right now it's kind of like the old saying about art: "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like." Well I'm finding out that I'm like that about writing fiction. I know what I like, I'm just not sure how to get there.
Through this journey of writing I am clinging to several things. First, I believe that I'm doing what God has led me to do. Second, the way he chooses to use my writing may be totally different from my own agenda.
I am also discovering two things very specifically about gifts.
One: God sometimes gives gifts in the form of diamonds in the rough.
I have enjoyed writing all my life and feel that I do it well. I can't take credit for that, it is something that God has allowed me to do well, because I believe he has a purpose for it. Writing has always come fairly easily for me, until I started with fiction, that is. Fiction writing is a whole new animal, and suddenly what came so effortlessly for me is now a lot harder. I am definitely a newbie in this area with a lot of growing and learning to do.
Two: God needs to refine and polish our gifts, and we need to let him.
I have entered several writing contests for beginning, unpublished writers, and am in two critique groups so I get pretty regular feedback from people who have been writing a long time. It is a humbling experience. I get some pretty consistent feedback at this point:
- I have good writing skills as far a grammatical issues and structure
- I have some good sections that read well and tell a good story
- I have some great ideas that reach out and touch people
- I have a lot of work to do
Now it's nice to get positive strokes about something I like to do, and the truth is that I do have a talent and a desire to write. The other truth is, I do have a lot to learn. A LOT!!
I can choose to approach this in one of two ways. I can kick and scream and wonder how people don't recognize the genius behind the written word (Really?). Or...
I can choose to be teachable, and submit to the instruction of those whom God has placed before me who really do know what they are talking about. I can choose not to settle for a "first draft" offering, but choose, instead, to refine, rework, and renew my work until it is polished and the best that I can offer. I can strive for excellence.
Will my excellence, the best I can do, be the same in a year as it is today? Oh, I certainly hope not! Even since my first submission to a contest just weeks ago, I have learned enough that I am embarrassed for having turned in something so...not ready. I thought it was good. It was good, but it wasn't excellent.
Scripture tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God, and that we are to do everything with excellence as if we are doing it for God, because we are. If we ever do anything for any other reason, we have failed.
I pray that God will help me to be teachable and humble. I pray that he will help me to see that correction and instruction are good and do not in any way mean that I am failing him. I can only fail him when I fail to put him first and submit to the authorities (teachers) he has given me. I also pray that he will use whatever I write: a magazine article, a devotional, a book, or this blog post to touch someone and reach them for his glory. Isn't it truly amazing what God can do with an unrefined, imperfect gift that is totally dedicated to him?!
IT REALLY ISN'T ABOUT US AT ALL!
In my writing and in my life I will always be continuously being refined by a Father who loves me and has called me to serve him. He loves me just as I am in this moment, and he knows how to make me what I need to be.
It's your turn: How is God refining you? Can you see his hand in your life and your work?