They called it re:Write. As I sat my bum in a chair pinched between two other wannabe writers, (or perhaps they've already arrived and confidently call themselves "scribes", as such) tears welled in my eyes.
Apparently, not enough of my life is "re:Writing" to make blip on a publisher's radar. Apparently, the spontaneous energy that itches at the tips of my fingers and prickles my mind when there's no paper in sight, isn't really what good books are made of. Apparently, almost nobody reads anymore. Apparently, the mysterious romance of author and pen, discovery and syntax, melody and imagination just isn't enough. And apparently, even a message from God, a testimony of redemption, this welling glory in my chest, a conviction to share Gospel through story, to wrap my story up in His story, just may not be newsworthy.
Between masters of market analysis and prestigious publishers, an author was sandwiched. Ted Dekker took the stage in artsy array, as if he'd clothed himself from the quirky Austin shops on his way to the conference. His message entranced me and coaxed even more tears through the rivulets already marring my makeup.
It was almost as if he implored me not to be there. His call to my artist-heart was that sweet-sorrowful voice of Create, wooing me to endure. I wept, fearful that in twelve more hours of facts and figures, the voice would be drowned out. Back in my room last night, I sobbed.
I picked up the program, willing myself to will to go back, to face the cold, hard truth of the dismal potential of publishing.
re:Write. This call to make something of my words is almost the same as what propelled my earlier years of an eating disorder - an effort to prove I'm exceptional at something. I imagine if someone would just validate my words, pluck my story from the slush pile and be astonished at its merit, then, then, I will be someone. My life re:Me, re:MyWriting will define me.
I'm sure dozens of people are spurred on by such messages. I know that their SMART goals drive them to succeed; I know they know what success looks like. I know they will beat me in this race for literary recognition. But, I'm also sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, trapped, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of others pressing to realize the same dream, haunted by the fact that only a few of us can possess it.
You see, I can't write regarding writing. I can't think regarding writing. When I do, I find myself tangled in the concepts I'm trying to convey, confused by my own story, caught up between the needs of a reader, the demands of a publishers and the Reason. THE reason. That's it. I have to write for a reason, and that reason has to be beyond myself, beyond numbers and platforms and pie charts. I write re:Jesus.
I first sat down to write because I had a story. I had a powerful tale of a damsel in distress rescued by her one true Love, a Love who had pursued her before she ever knew His name. But it was more than a powerful story, it was a pervading story, oozing through my pores, from the inside out, shimmering on my skin, transforming me. And as long as I wrote from that place at my Redeemer's side, staring up at Him in awe and gratitude, the words flowed. He is my Reason.
Sitting in the conference, I felt as if I was trying to write from a distance; squinting to see a becoming profile of my Lover, attempting to place Him in the best light, then pausing to evaluate myself and impose one story on top of the other. But I can't see the real story from there. It's clearest when I'm standing right next to Him, when He illumines, when I am focused so intently and intimately on Him that I can scarcely see the distinction between us.
So, I left the conference. For myself, pressing my story into palms, seeing my story in another woman's eyes, holding her shaking shoulders and angling her just enough that she can see Jesus, sharing my story over coffee and in long letters, declaring my redemption on parchment that may never have spine or cover art or rave reviews - it is enough. It is more than enough. It is who I was meant to be and how my story was meant to be told.