Monday, January 26, 2009

Walking through open doors

Walk through the doors God opens for you; take advantage of the opportunities God wants you to have.

You know, when I started writing, I developed a crazy mind. Let me just warn you. Writers are certifiably crazy, especially suspense authors. We can see trouble in any situation. Any innocent situation. And we can’t turn it off! A clown at a birthday party becomes a CIA agent in disguise. The tall child in the middle isn’t really a child. He’s really a midget in disguise, a terrorist who’s going to pretend he’s blowing up the balloons, but is really releasing a deadly gas contained in the helium tank. Come on y’all, you can’t tell me that’s not crazy. Seriously, I see stories everywhere. My parents went on a cruise and I’m warning them about the cabin attendant. He could be killer in disguise, hiding as a worker so he can escape the cops on his tail.

It’s exasperating, really. Because I start liking gifts like these t-shirts that read: "Please do not annoy the author, she may put you in a book and kill you."

All kidding aside, God’s opened a lot of doors in my 41 years and I wish I could say that I walked fearlessly right through all of them. Unfortunately, I’m sure I slammed a few closed or walked right past them, never noticing they were open and God was going…um, right here, Lynette, right here. Then I’d look back and slap my head going…I can’t believe I did that. After a while, I caught on. I’m a pretty smart girl…occasionally. It usually doesn’t take me too long to catch on to stuff so I started looking for the open doors.

I started expecting them because I was tired of missing them! We have to look for opportunities to serve and not be terribly surprised when God provides them. Especially if we’re praying for them. Why are we surprised when God answers our prayers. I mean if we’re praying, don’t we expect an answer?? And sometimes that answer comes in the form of an open door.

For example:
Ten years ago when I started writing, I never had a clear picture of where it was leading or even what I was doing really. But I had this fiction idea and my prayer was, “God, use it if you can.” Can you imagine a dumber (is that word?) prayer? “If you can.” God probably just shook his head. Anyway, my daughter was about six months old when I first started putting story to paper – or rather, really old, untrustworthy laptop—my husband travelled a lot and looking back, I was probably a little lonely.

So, I started taking all the voices in my head OUT and started giving them life. It was a fascinating process, a laborious undertaking, but I finally finished it. During the writing of it, I kept coming back to…why am I doing this? Putting time and energy into this manuscript that was probably going nowhere.

But I’m stubborn. My husband’ll back me up on that one.

During the writing of this first book, I occasionally stopped to read and I came across a story by a woman and loved it. It was called The Negotiator by Dee Henderson. It had her email address in the back so I just wrote her a little note to say how much I loved the story ,that she was now my favorite author and when was the next book coming out??!!

And she emailed me back! I couldn’t believe it. I was in AWE that this author and probably very busy person had taken the time to write to little ole me. And a relationship developed as a result. Dee took that manuscript that I’d crafted over the last several months and critiqued it. Every last word. She pointed out every mistake I made. And trust me, she must have worked for HOURS on that thing because I made a lot of mistakes.

I didn’t know it, but God was preparing me. He had opened the door to a friendship that I’d never even considered. But he was providing the tools that I needed in order to step through another door that he was going to open when the time was right. You know, hindsight really is a wonderful thing.

Now, I thought that manuscript was perfect. Especially after Dee got through with it and I made all her suggested changes. I thought I would submit that baby and editors everywhere would be having a bidding war over the chance to publish it.

I was wrong.

God wasn’t ready to open that door for me yet. I was ready for him to open it, but he knew stuff I didn’t. Like that manuscript was REALLY bad. Only I couldn’t see that. I didn’t understand why it got rejected. But God knew.

So, I kept writing and Dee kept encouraging. And I kept getting rejected. But I was learning, building my skills, honing the talent and doing what God had given me the desire to do. Write. I wanted my writing to make a difference for him and he knew that. That’s why he kept providing what I needed, sending me encouragement—in the form of my mother mostly—and equipping me by placing people in my path that could grow me. As long as I was willing to be taught. And I was.

Finally, after I’d attended several conferences, entered numerous contests to receive feedback, taken that feedback to heart and implemented it, I finally had a story—that I’d never intended to be a story!

I’d read about a contest online. It was for Harlequin. One of their other lines—not the Christian line. But they were offering $1,000 to the first place winner. I got this brilliant idea. I’d enter and win the money. I was so na├»ve.

Anyway, I entered and didn’t win, but I did get a request for the full manuscript from one of the top acquiring editors at Harlequin. That’s when I realized I was getting closer. To be honest, I was almost ready quit. Only I couldn’t. Because I had to write the stories that kept popping up, because God was getting ready to open a door for me. I did a little research on the line this editor wanted the book for, but realized there was no way I writing that. My husband was a minister. I had children that would one day read my stuff. God would know I wrote it. Huh uh. My writing was going to make God proud. I told her thanks but no thanks. Now, if I hadn’t been spiritually awake, if I’d been willing to compromise on my beliefs, I might have been able to convince myself that that was a door opened by God. After all, I’d been praying, please Lord, let someone want to buy my book. And here I’d gotten a call asking for a full manuscript! And I won’t say it wasn’t tempting, but ladies, if something looks real good, but you feel convicted that it might not be the right thing to do? Listen to that conviction. Be able to discern what God wants from what YOU want. Because that uneasiness that I felt at the thought of sending in my manuscript to that editor? That’s God saying uh, uh, uh. Wait on me.
That wasn’t his door! In fact, if I had gone ahead and gone in that direction, who knows where I’d be today? But I can bet it wouldn’t be right where I am and that’s right in the middle of God’s will for my life.
But I was hugely encouraged.

So on I trudged.

Finally, I sent the story off to the Steeple Hill Suspense line. All 90,000 words of it. I waited and about three months later, I got the whole manuscript back in the mail with a four page revision letter saying if I was willing to cut 30,000 words (you do the math. Yes, that’s 1/3 of the book!) the I could send it back and they would reconsider it. This was in September. I had a four page revision letter that just looked huge to me. I told God I couldn’t do it. God told me I could. We argued. I don’t recommend it. You’ll lose. God always wins. I revised the manuscript. And sent it back in January of 2007. Then it hit me. I’d almost slammed that door in God’s face because in February 2008, I got a call saying they wanted to buy my book!

God had thrown the door wide open.

And I walked through it.

You know, when I decided to write about this, I said I was going to write about walking fearlessly through the doors God opens, it didn’t occur to me until now that I might should have left out that word, “fearlessly.”

Because while I was thrilled beyond belief that I’d finally done it, God had allowed me to get that call, I wasn’t fearless! I was scared to death! Because you know what my next thought was?

What if they want me to write another one??!!

Then I had to suck in a deep breath and go, “Okay, God, I know this is Your plan. I don’t need to be worried, right? Right??

And so, yes, I wrote another one. And another. Then four more. God has blessed me so incredibly through writing. He’s opened so many doors for me. Including the one here tonight. And hopefully, I’ve honored him by stepping through it. If you're a writer, keep going. Trust that the doors will open in due time. Put your focus on God, step through the doors he’s opened for you and soak in the blessings he desires to bestow upon you.


PamelaTracy said...

I loved this whole blog. My favorite part, though, was when you were talking about Dee Henderson, and the time she gave you, and how she pointed out every mistake. You are a true and gifted writer! You took her comments and instead of quitting, grew!!! I sometimes think that's the biggest test. Thanks for starting my day with this thought provoking tale :)

Lynette Eason said...

Thanks, Pamela. This post ran kind of long, but I based it on a talk I'm giving Saturday night to a ladies group. Thank you so much for the encouragement! Thanks for commenting!

Debby Giusti said...

I'm with Pam . . . amazing Dee Henderson had the time to help you. What a special lady she must be. God sent you to the right person . . . talk about the top of Christian suspense!

Lovely witness of being a faithful servant of the Lord. Thanks for sharing!

Leann said...

Reading you post, so many truths you said rang true. Thank you for sharing. It touched me. I am thrill with your success.