The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I have potential.....right?

Last Monday the doctor removed my cast!  I am so excited to finally be free of that form fitting, heavy, hard contraption.  I was sure my freedom would make it easy to get back to work.  After all, my calendar is full of big red x's as I waited for this day.  

Not so fast!  I haven't reached freedom yet.  The doctor removed the cast and replaced it with a boot that is tighter, more restrictive and twice as heavy.  I've been instructed to ease into walking by daily adding 20 pounds of pressure until my entire weight is on that foot.  "This may be a painful process since we did so much work on your foot..."  Smile - show teeth -write on patient's chart.  "So I'm going to send you to therapy."

He was doing the smiling....not me.  I am very grateful for all he's done and I know this is the right procedure, but I am tired and want to be done with this.  I don't want to lug around a 50 pound boot, spend two hours a day going to and from therapy and another three weeks dealing with pain and swelling.  I want this part to be over as well.  I want to get on with the good stuff like buying cute little shoes.  Why does this have to be so hard?

Do you feel like that about your writing?  You work a little on what you think is important and you pray over it for a good month.  Finally, you ask God for strength and courage.  You let a writing friend see it or you send it to an editor and it comes back dripping in red ink.  At the top in big letters are the words...."YOU HAVE POTENTIAL....KEEP WORKING!"  Your eyes center on those words and your heart skips a beat as you take in the meaning.....I HAVE POTENTIAL!  Sounds great.  Feels great.  I HAVE POTENTIAL!

It's time to get supper on the table so you put the manuscript on the steps to take to your office.  After supper you read those words again as you proudly march up the steps.  I HAVE POTENTIAL.  It feels good to be appreciated.  You gently lay the papers on your desk and take your seat to make this your best work.

POV is lightly written in the margin on the first page.  As you flip through the pages POV gets bigger and bolder with every page.  By the last page she has written it five different times.  SP seems to dominate every paragraph.  On the first page she's written "Consult the Chicago Manual of Style = CMS".  CMS is on every page at least five times.  At this point you slump back in your chair.  You twirl around and face a bookcase hoping to stop the tears that are flooding your eyes. 

Determined to become a better writer you slap your hand on your desk and take another look.  There are so many abbreviations that you have to Google "editor's marks" in order to understand what she's saying.  The negative comments seem so strong that you begin to wonder if "YOU HAVE POTENTIAL" is code for "Don't quit your day job".  You can't take much more so you shuffle off to bed.

A week goes by without a single sentence being changed.  You spend another week working on your daughter's birthday party.  You promised to help with a choir concert at church, your son needs someone to help car pool to little league, you need a vacation....and on...and on life goes. 

Two months have passed and the manuscript that had so much potential is now at the bottom of a mail pile.  Once in a while you move some of the mail just so you can see the words, "YOU HAVE POTENTIAL".  You smile.  It was a nice idea.  It's too bad it didn't work out.

From time to time people ask you if you are still writing.  You smile, nod and turn away.  Too bad it didn't work out.

I think we all have experienced avoidance in our writing journey.  It's hard to take negative comments and still push through and get the writing done.  But if we are to be all that God called us to be we have to understand that just like my foot or any task that's hard, if we push on - it will be worth it.  I just don't think I could live with myself if I stopped.  How could I face the future knowing that perhaps one more push and I would be in the winners circle?

God loves you and has called you to write,