Friday, June 1, 2007

Speaking of Fires

Tiffany Colter recently shared this inspiring story on the ACFW writers email loop. It's exactly the kind of encouragement we writers need, so I asked her if I could pass it on to y'all. Here's Tiffany:

Last night God did an illustrated message for me right in my back yard. When I shared it with my husband he said I should tell some people we knew were discouraged. Writers get SO discouraged sometimes I thought I'd share it with all of you.

Those of you on the prayer loop, Naners, Cheryl, Pam and Amy know that lately I haven't been my usual bubbly self. LOL. Well, if you're going through a "why not me?" moment, month or decade keep reading.

Yesterday we had a rare beautiful day here in Michigan. It was in the 70s, sunny and beautiful. But since we live on a farm surrounded by half a mile in each direction of flat farm land it was, as usual, windy. One of our family's special treats is building a fire. Our fire pit is an old car wheel [the metal part] sunk down in the ground with bricks from our old chimney around it. It is situated in the 10 feet of grass between our ramp to our back door [built during Chris' cancer treatment] and the 'people' door to our garage.

Our six-year-old asked for a fire and Chris was on his way to a business meeting. I said I'd build a fire. It's been a rough month and this last week has been devastating but yesterday God gave us a day of refreshing and I wanted to celebrate with a fire. A time for mommy and her 4 girls to sit out back and smile and read board books and tell stories. [No this isn't back story, yes it is important.]

So I collected a chunk of pages from the old phone book, a toilet paper tube and sticks to create my "wick." [That is my own creation. You're welcome to steal it.] I put a bunch of twigs and branches down in the fire pit, put a couple of split logs around and stuck my wick in the middle. Usually the paper catches fire, carries it down in the wick through the TP tube and down to the brush on the bottom where the fire is protected from the wind. Yesterday the wind was not cooperating. Every time I got something to burn the wind blew it out.

For 15 minutes I tried various combinations of paper and sticks [I had no 'boy scout water' as my hubby calls it to start the fire]. Each time it would catch fire and the wind would blow it out. Once I got a little fire started so in desperation I grabbed some dried grass on the edge of the yard from when Chris mowed Friday but the weight snuffed out the fire.

Then I heard narration start in my head, just like when I'm writing. It was so clear. It said "This fire is like what you're doing in life." I looked in the pit and saw 4 corners smoldering with paper but nothing productive, nothing was burning to catch the logs. Then the narration continued in my head "The very thing that keeps blowing out your fire is what's going to cause it to ignite."
I kid you not at that moment I struck a match and a piece of paper burst in to flames. For some reason I started to run to our wood shack and grab sticks and throw them on the fire. I started jamming paper underneath. The fire ran down the paper underneath the sticks and out of the wind and ignited all the things I'd been trying to light. Something was stirring inside me. The fire jumped almost as high as me [I'm 5 feet tall]. I ran and grabbed a couple of big logs to hold down the twigs. The wind picked up suddenly and stirred the fire in to an all out tizzy. It was roaring and crackling and popping. I stood there and looked at the fire.

As writers we keep lighting fires with queries, magazine queries, editor/agent appointments, requested fulls and we get excited for that requested full until we get the form rejection letter.
But God said to me last night if we keep doing it eventually the right combination of sticks, paper, grass and matches will connect when the wind has slowed to a calm and it will catch fire. Then when that wind resumes, the thing that has been blowing out your dream will cause your dream to burn nearly out of control. At that moment you can throw everything you've got at it. All those dusty full MS sitting in a drawer, all those rejected articles aging on your hard drive, all those lessons from Writer's conference....You can start throwing them on the fire and it will burn.

Be encouraged today. Normally I would have given up on that fire last night but something inside me said no, it became a game to figure out how to get it to light. Let your pursuit of the "publication dream" become fun--a challenge, not a life or death struggle. Then listen for God to speak because the moment will come when preparation meets divine destiny and God will grab hold of you.

Don't give up....and go start a fire.

Tiffany Colter
Writers Career Planning Services