I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because they imply a reliance on the self – as I addressed briefly in my last blog, I believe that the only Person we can rely on is God.  One thing I’ve learned this year is that whenever I try to intervene in a situation that’s troubling me and do it on my own, things inevitably become disastrous.  We’re people of imperfect flesh, and to lean to our own understanding is to discount God’s promise to direct our paths.  I’ve spent my whole life being such a control freak that this has been a hard concept for me to grasp, particularly because I’ve gotten in the bad habit of letting my emotions run away with me.  I’m a writer, and my job is to make up stories.  Often, though, I create anxiety when I spin such elaborate “what-if” tales that they begin to seem like a very real possibility.  This is just a very long way of saying that I don’t believe in “resolving” to do things.  My only resolution is ongoing and not renewed at the beginning of the year – I resolve to let the Lord write out His own plan and follow it.

Does this mean that I’m successful at this?  No way.  I’ve gotten better at controlling my reactions to situations, but I’ll never master it.  The old sin nature is still there.  I know God has something in mind for me, and that it’s even better than the aspirations I’ve held for myself as a writer.  But I still can’t let go of some things that I want creatively, and when I think about them, I find myself growing impatient.

Probably the biggest thing is that I haven’t had any prose accepted for publication in almost a year.  The last time was in late January of last year, when I found out Shenandoah would be publishing “Enduring Chills.”  I’m not complaining.  To be featured in my favorite of the country’s prestigious literary journals with a slew of writers I really admire – and in an issue devoted to Flannery O’Connor, my favorite writer, to boot – is probably the greatest honor I’ve experienced in regard to my writing.  To get a mention in a review of the issue on NewPages.com was also incredible.  But rejection letters bother me now in a way they haven’t before.  It seemed okay to get those slips of paper back in my self addressed envelope when I was in graduate school, surrounded by my peers, who were having the same thing happen to them on a daily basis.  We commiserated in our offices and read the rudest of the letters aloud to each other.  Each of us had a unique story about being slighted by various journals.  One of my colleagues had a piece accepted at StoryQuarterly, only to be told less than twelve hours later that they had made a mistake and wouldn’t be publishing her piece after all.  We all rallied around the thread on her Facebook page, throwing metaphorical stones and vowing never to submit our work there (Sidenote: If you’re into New Year’s resolutions, that might be a good one.  Don’t submit to StoryQuarterly.  You might get burned).

The point is that now that I’m not surrounded by writers anymore, rejection doesn’t seem like something that’s quite as routine and normal as it was.  As prideful as it might sound, I’m dying to get something accepted again.  And I’m not proud that the reasons are all really self centered – I want my thesis stories validated, I want validation of my own that I’ve still got it.  None of this is one iota as important as being validated by God, and once again, I know that I’m being pushed toward something that is going to be great – and whether it involves publication or not isn’t up to me, and shouldn’t be.  God has His own timeline, and all I need to do is let Him work it out.  Like I said – the more I keep my focus on myself, the less likely good things are to happen.  In fact, nothing good will happen.

In closing, I had someone ask me recently “what’s up with all this Jesus stuff?” and add “I don’t know what your thing is.”  You might even wonder, based on my last few entries, why I keep bringing up spiritual issues on a forum that is supposed to be writing related.   Here’s the deal – we all have a way as writers that we make sense of the world.  Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ with everything – including and especially the creative gift He’s given me – is the only way things make sense for me, especially during this period I described in my last blog, where I’m trying to figure out how all the pieces of my life since graduation fit together.  As I mentioned, this blog is about my experiences as a writer in a nontraditional working environment post-MFA – and all of this is part of that experience.  Christian or not, all creative folks deal with issues of patience and worries about whether or not anything we do has meaning for others.  My experience is that I’m letting Him get me over these hurdles.  Once I get a new project started, things are going to change tremendously.  But it’s going to be the project that is right for me at this particular time.  As for publications – that’s out of my hands as well.  The same rules as in grad school apply – keep submitting, keep sending stuff out the same day the rejection slips come in.  Nothing has changed, even though it feels like it has.  I’m still a writer.  My biggest question now is what that means in the context of where I am now.