Priorities and Possibilities in 2014
When 2013 ended, yes, I’d finished a great year of making income for my family, but I’d fallen far short of my writing goals. I’d failed to complete the first draft of my third novel, which I’m tentatively calling Drone.
I tend to get down on myself when I don’t meet my personal goals, but then I have to remind myself that I have priorities that must come before my writing—namely, supporting my wife and two daughters.
So while I didn’t meet my writing goals, I kept food on the table—and really, what’s more important? That’s an easy question to answer. God doesn’t go soft on men who fail to provide for those under their care (1 Tim. 5:8).
So yes, I do have a personal goal to finish novel number three in 2014, but I also temper that goal with an important truth. God gives us just enough time to do what we really need to do.
It’s great to have goals, but they must be balanced by reality while we submit to what God wants above all else. So while setting goals has its place, goals can sometimes become their own form of idolatry if we don’t align them based on what God has called us to do. After all, what I think is important for me to achieve right now may not align with God’s goals for me.
I must admit, though, that I’m delayed for another reason. I have a story I think is more powerful than anything I’ve ever written, but the plotting and the ending, in particular, are giving me headaches. I’m stuck, and I’m not sure how to move forward. The story’s possibilities are also so endless that I rather feel like a deer stuck in the headlights. I’m praying for wisdom. If you want to pray for me, too, I’d welcome that.
Then I must be frank that the whole process of getting published puts a damper on the prospect of finishing another book. It’s almost like a mental block. I love writing, but I must admit that I hate the process of getting published. I’m being brutally transparent here. Perhaps if I found a literary agent, he or she could help me navigate the sometimes-choppy waters.
I have several friends who are venturing out on their own, exploring the whole scary world of self-publishing. Is that for me? There are strong reasons to find the idea appealing. But then I think about the extra cost of time and finances . . . And I’m not sure. And indecision is one of my biggest weaknesses; sometimes I just can’t make up my mind.
So, as I face 2014, I have reasons to feel conflicted. And uncertain.
But when I think about the newness of this year, I visualize the pot of paper-whites my wife has stationed beside the kitchen window (I gave her the bulbs for Christmas). Just now there are new, green shoots rising up out of the soil, almost as if by magic. The promise of something fresh and new is refreshing, especially when we are surrounded by so much snow and cold at this time of the year.
That’s how I feel about this new year. It’s sort of like starting over with a clean slate. A year from now, will I have been faithful to what God has called me to do? Only God knows.
What about you? What are your goals for 2014? What biblical truths do you keep in mind to help you set right priorities and keep your goals from becoming idolatrous?
- Merry Christmas from the Blumers
- Is Working from Home Right for You? Part 3
I really appreciated your article on priorities. Our Christian school closed in 2012 which left us without most of our income. Since then, we have worked temporary jobs as I seek the Lord’s will in our next full-time pastoral ministry, and we have been able to serve the Lord and His people at the church in which I am still serving as an associate pastor.
While I would like to move on to the next thing I believe God has for us (I have yet to know specifically what that next thing is at present), and I can be tempted to become anxious over our direction and provision, the Lord has wonderfully provided for all our need and has marvelously given us opportunity in ministry during this time of transition.
It’s not my ideal, but I’m truly thankful for the plate that has been set before me. Truly the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want!
Glad to hear you’re planning how to move forward this year, Adam. I feel like I’m getting a mental block against writing for some reason…I think mostly I’m burned out! But I’ll be praying you figure out JUST the right ending.
Hey, Rod. Thanks for your comment. We all have challenges, don’t we? I’ve always had this dream to write, but the reality is whatever God has called me to do, so I have to put His priorities first, which includes providing for my family. I see a lot of writers driven by the dream of being best-selling authors, and I fear they may be overlooking God’s will in the here and now. Dreams can easily take us places God may not intend. So this article was sort of a pep talk to myself about what my true priorities are and where things like my writing need to fall in my order of those priorities. God has provided for us, and His provision is more important to me than my writing dreams. He does provide, and He’ll take care of you too. Thanks for sharing. You sound like you’re in a scary place; I’ve been there too.
Thanks, Heather. I certainly know that burned-out feeling. I’ve often been up against tough editing deadlines and at the same time wanted so badly to write but knew I had neither the gumption nor creativity at the momnent to be of much good. Sometimes we just get tired, and sometimes I feel like I see so many words throughout the day that I barely have energy to look at my own. We can only do what God has empowered us to do. Sometimes I wonder if I should get past this period of providing my girls and seeing them off college and then really pursuing a writing career when I’m in my sixties and the financial pressures have let up a bit. I’m closer to that right ending now. Ideas have been stewing quite a bit in my brain lately, and the direction is becoming clearer. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your frank comments. The first thing I want to say is that looking at your family Christmas picture, I thought that was your dad with the rest of your family. Before that makes you more depressed, remember looking like your dad isn’t a bad thing!! What’s more, at least I didn’t compare you with the dog. Seriously, you have a great looking family and I know it is a pleasure to provide for them.
Secondly, I know that, as I used to say, my job gets in the way of my life! – OR – I love my job; it’s the work I hate. I’ve never aspired to be a writer, but I have written a few short things over my life and have taught Bible Studies for years and understand just a minute fraction of what happens when you get writer’s block. I want you to know I have read both your books and eagerly await the next. Just don’t be too long; I’m almost 75 and can’t wait for ever – well, at least I can’t wait here on earth forever. 😉
Don’t get discouraged and keep up the good work. You are one of the “good kids” making we old Genesee Christian School people proud. If you ever get down here with the trolls in Hillman, give us a “holler” and we’ll get together for a cup of coffee and a few lies about how good we used to be.
Don & Carol Lauderbaugh
Hi, Don and Carol. Thank you for your thoughts. Yes, people constantly tell me that I’m looking more like my dad as I grow older. I’m getting used to it. Thanks.
I’m doing my best to get that third novel done, but like you said, my job gets in the way of my life. I sometimes do get discouraged, so thank you for the encouragement. I’m glad you read my other two novels and enjoyed them. Please consider passing the word on to others somehow. That’s what I really need: more people helping me get the word out. So much in publishing, unfortunately, relies on good sales. Also please consider writing a brief review at Amazon.com; those reviews are important, and I could use more for either book.
Thanks for your kind words! I rarely get below the bridge these days, but maybe someday I will. Thanks.
My pastor asked us all a few weeks ago what we are like–a raft, a sailboat, or a motor boat. Oops! I’ve been vacillating between all three mode of transportation lately! Having the patience and yieldedness while simply steering in the right direction (our goals) and waiting on God to provide the right wind speed in our sails is a constant struggle for some of us. Especially when other things happen along the way like leaks, repairs, storms, sickness, etc.
We all eagerly wait for your next book, but God knows the best timing. I’ll be praying about your decisions pertaining to writing and self publishing.
Ah, thanks, Miriam. I guess I’m like a sailboat. I’ve got my sails the right way to go in the right direction, but the waves are choppy and push me another direction sometimes. Life constantly interferes with plans, but then we have to remind ourselves who is in control of life. The bottom line is that there are only so many hours in a day, and work consumes most of them. So that leaves little time for writing. And frankly, the publishing process has been such a headache and sales have been so far below expectations that after a while you start wondering why you bother. I’m not writing for the money, but it would be nice to get something to justify the investment of time. We’ll see what God wants to do. I feel good about book #3, but there are definitely some plot issues I’m still ironing out. And I can’t get the writing done until the plotting issues are resolved. Thanks for your advice and encouragement.