This weekend (while at the LDStorymaker’s Conference) I was sitting in my room with a couple of good friends, Karen Hoover and Becky Olsen, talking about our writing. Each gave me a great piece of advice. Karen said she always prays before she writes and Becky said she always reads the scriptures. Although I do pray often about my writing, I hadn’t considered doing it every time or diving into the scriptures beforehand so that I can have the spirit with me. That all changed today.
For several months I have been rewriting and editing my book in hopes it would soon be ready to send out to find representation by an agent, only to be frustrated, knowing all too well it was not all it could be. I sent it out to several writing friends who returned it with their loving comments and suggestions based on years of experience and education. About three weeks before conference I finished it. One more time, I read through the entire thing to make sure it was what I wanted and when I was done I had an overwhelming feeling of peace. I had never had that before. In my heart I was done.
Now fast forward to the conference, the first chapter contest and boot camp and I find myself once again doubting my writing skills and wondering if the book is ready. When I sat down at my computer this afternoon I pulled out the judges comments and, even though they were all positive and encouraging, they did make some suggestions that I thought I should consider. When I opened up the word document that is my manuscript, I struggled for over twenty minutes with what changes I could make to ensure my success, only to be struck with a feeling of dread. Every time I tried to rearrange something or rewrite my heart ached. Then I thought about the advice my friends gave me.
At first I just sat quietly and pondered exactly what I wanted to ask my Heavenly Father. Did I just want confirmation that my book was good enough or did I need help changing it? So many experienced authors had given great advice, how could I ignore it? Still sitting, not quite able to bring myself to pray, I caught my scripture bag out of the corner of my eye. They always sit on a file box next to my desk. I brought them to me, opened them and thumbed through the pages. Nothing stood out. Then I close the book, said a silent prayer and let the book fall open, thinking it would magically reveal itself to me. For the first time in my life, it did.
1 Timothy 3:14-16
14-Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 – Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 – Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Several things stuck out.
First, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee”. I should trust in my talent as a writer and in the spirit that whispers to me that all is well with it.
Second, “which was given thee . . . with the laying on of the hands…” My Patriarchal Blessing has given me great advice about my talents and even though I hadn’t read it for quite a while, there was a time at the conference that spoke to my spirit and made me think of the words contained there. When I got back to my room I pulled it out of my journal, read it and was overcome. I’ve spent all my life trying to “find” myself and to discover the meaning this blessing had. I know now the talent spoke of there is my writing. I no longer have the desire to search. I have found my place in this world and even if it takes me the rest of my life, I plan on fulfilling what the Lord expects of me.
Third, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” I not only need to keep my surroundings and myself clean so that the spirit can dwell here, but I need to meditate, pray, listen and then DO. I can’t just sit back and wait for someone else to do the work for me, but do everything in my power to make sure the Lord’s will is fulfilled. The benefits of that will be seen by others and hopefully influence them to do the same.
Fourth, “Take heed unto thyself . . .” I need to listen to that inner voice that’s telling me enough is enough. I realize that there will always be little things I can change and there may be some edits that will need to be made on my manuscript as it goes through the process of publication, but when the spirit whispers it’s time to stop, I need to listen.
And finally, “for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” I need to do more. I’ve spent the past year writing nothing but my book and I need to start branching out, submit to the church magazines, try my hand at other genres and practice my craft. Although I love my book, it is fantasy and I need to concentrate on writing about some of my life experiences, not only to save myself from the skeletons that rattle around in my closet, but also share what I’ve learned from the strength I’ve gained in recovering, no matter how difficult it may be.
So, what have I learned? Always approach your writing with humble prayer and scripture study. The inspiration you receive will not only improve your writing, but others will feel it as they read, giving them the confirmation of the spirit as it touches their hearts.