That headline is not about Travis Perry’s costume, Mike Duran’s horror seminar, or even post-conference letdown. All those things could properly fall under this heading, but that’s not what I’m on about.
I hesitate to write this post, because I am going to come across as Whiney McWhiner. But I figure if I feel this way, maybe someone else does, too. If not…well…someone slap me.
Even though I know comparison is bad—as Chip Ingram has said, “comparison always leads to carnality”—I can’t help it. I look around Realm Makers (any conference, really, but for some reason this one hit me particularly hard) and it’s all I can do to suppress my envy.
I know we’re supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice, yadda yadda, and on the face of it I try, I really do. And do you know, in public, I even mean it. But in the dark of my room, alone, I wallow in the envy for just a minute or two…or thirty…before I remember to pray to have that feeling taken away from me. I don’t want it.
But it’s there.
Envy is bad for me in another way. It compounds that post-conference letdown. Trashed my productivity for the week, I’m telling you.
The pictures making the rounds on Facebook are wonderful, but one of them really stoked my dark side. This one of Steve Laube with the Enclave authors. I looked at these women and honestly, I thought, they’re all young, and beautiful, and published novelists.
All things I’m not.
Who am I? Who am I to complain about the lot God has assigned me? I know how obnoxious this all sounds. But I feel I have to confess it.
Just B. Jordan, author of Never to Live, notes on her website that she got her first publishing contract when she was eighteen. That’s when it hit me.
It’s the humility lesson again.
If I had gotten a contract when I was eighteen, I would have been insufferable. I was nowhere near as sweet and humble at that age as Jordan is.
One of the most powerful lessons of the conference for me came during Robert Liparulo’s closing keynote. He talked about how he prays over his work. Prays that God would equip and prepare him.
I am convicted. I have not prayed over my work nearly enough. And often when I do, it’s less praying for wisdom (although I sometimes remember to do that) so that the story will be what God wants it to me. More often it’s praying that whatever editor I’ve submitted it to this time will look favorably on it.
Perhaps my angst is amplified by the fact that I once thought I had arrived. I had the four-book contract—the over-the-top big hairy audacious dream. Having that fall through rattled my nerves. Now I’m back to the same old doubts and insecurities.
But let me end on a note of hope. Because even before the conference, I got a great message from Dennis Brooke, who some of us met back in the Marcher Lord Select days. Dennis’s book, The Last Apostle, was a finalist in the contest, and is now scheduled for release in February. I always thought this was the best book in the contest, and I’m surprised it’s taken this long to come to fruition. I signed up to be on Dennis’s launch team, and he sent me an advance reader copy with a note that it’s much better than the version that was in the contest. Which is saying something, because that version was excellent.
But I could relate, because Alara’s Call has also been through a lot of changes since the contest. It’s worlds better, and not just because it now has a decent title. I mentioned to Dennis that it’s now under consideration at yet another publisher, and I’m anxiously awaiting to hear whether it gets past the pub board. (I was told eight weeks ago that I would have an answer within six weeks. When I spoke to the editor at RM, I was told to wait another six weeks. Cue nail biting.)
Here’s what Dennis told me: “Prayer, persistence, and patience = published.”
Again with the prayer.
I so needed these lessons. All of them:
- Don’t let melancholy kill your productivity.
- Don’t covet your neighbor’s book contract.
- Humble yourself before God.
Don’t get me wrong. Attending Realm Makers is a joy, and I would not miss it for anything. Anything. I mean that.
As in every joy, there is a contrasting sorrow. But even the sorrow has something to teach us if we listen.