Friday, June 6, 2008

A Long and Winding Road

Yesterday I reran a blog from last spring, when I was starting a new manuscript and dealing not only with fear of failure but also fear of success. I mentioned that the thoughts were pertinent to me again now, because I'm once again about to start a new project.

Actually I'm just sort of switching gears this time. I've been struggling, trying to turn out a draft of a novel I've attacked over and over throughout the years. It's my creepy gothic novel I've mentioned before, and it's not exactly my agent's cup of tea. I told her I would work on it until June, get it out of my system, and then work on the project she's excited about.

I have the usual trepidation when starting a new project, including that fear of both failure and success that I talked about yesterday. As I get older, though, I'm starting to have a new worry--fear of wasted time.

I have not exactly made a straight run toward my goals in life. Hence the theme of this blog. I started thinking about one of my favorite Bible passages (Proverbs 3:5-6), and the difference in two of its translations. Here's the way I learned it first, in the King James: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Later, I read the verses in the New International Version, which I usually love. But I didn't care much for this translation: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Do you see the difference? In the King James, God promises that he'll direct us. To me, that means he'll show us which path to take. In the NIV, he promises to make our paths straight. When I was younger, that didn't seem as encouraging--as though I'd have to figure out the path myself, but he'd straighten it out somehow.

Then I spent a few more years on the long, winding road that is my life. (Sorry if that Beatles song is going to be stuck in your head now.) I made so many false starts. I seemed to wander around without direction. I took an expensive class to become a legal secretary, and all it accomplished was showing me that I don't want to work in the legal profession. I started a graduate degree at USC in Los Angeles so I could become a screenwriter and work in film. I quit after one semester, because I discovered that I didn't want to live in Los Angeles and I had absolutely no talent for writing screenplays.

My writing journey has been just as circuitous. I've tried different genres. I wrote a manuscript for the secular market, only to be told it was too religious. So I reworked it for the Christian market and was told it's too literary. I've actually found myself thinking--should I rewrite it as a literary novel? I'd like to tell you I only went through this kind of confusion with one manuscript, but unfortunately, that's not the case.

You know how Psalm 23 starts off, "The Lord is my Shepherd?" Boy, do I understand that word picture! I often picture myself as a little lost lamb, wandering about, and God has to gently guide me back onto the path. The straight path. The one that leads me toward those achievements, those good works that he planned for me before the beginning of the world.

I'm trying a completely new genre on this current project for my agent. So I can't help but wonder--is this more wasted time? Another false start down the wrong turn in the maze? But I also have to remind myself that God used every one of those experiences to bring me where I am today, and that's a very good place.

So now I love that NIV translation that tells me God will make my paths straight. I may not know what I'm doing, I may take the scenic route, get lost and refuse to ask for directions, but God knows exactly where I need to go! I know from experience he'll get me there yet.