Accidental Books & Life on Purpose

Photo by Greyerbaby

When I was young I could write books almost by accident.

See, I would have an idea for a scene or a place or a character, and I would play with it in my mind for a while (and usually also with toys or sticks or something — I was a kid, and I “played” to a late age), and then eventually I would start putting it on paper. The latter part happened more often as I got into my teens and started to be more serious about writing. But serious or not, manuscripts came together as a side effect of having fun.

That never happens anymore.

My current WIP (work-in-progress) is a stellar example of why. I am working on BELOVED, Book 3 in The Prophet Trilogy. My goal is a late fall release. I’ve been doing some preliminary work for a while and intended to start the actual writing three days ago.

What I actually DID on that day was catch up on work that was due after a busy week of directing camp and doing nothing else. The next day I went to church and then a wedding. The next day I drove 4 1/2 hours to my parents’ house, where I’m staying for a week doing prep stuff for another wedding (my sister’s). I’m working full-time while I’m here, plus hanging out with my siblings and sibs-in-law and nieces and parents.

Next week I drive eight hours to Ottawa to spend a week teaching Bible three hours a day, Monday-Friday, at another camp; and then drive back eight hours for another week of wedding prep and then the wedding itself. I also have to visit the doctor, get some legal papers notarized, and do some financial management.

All, I want to stress, while WORKING FULL-TIME.

In other words, when you grow up, life gets full in a way it was not when you were a kid. I don’t play on the computer anymore; I work on it. Relationships aren’t just things that are happening around me; they take intentionality and focus and driving many hours.

And I’m glad they do. They’re worth it.

All of this has me thinking about life and how important things happen. Often we learn what’s important accidentally. Through play. Through exploring. Through just growing up within a community of people, in church, in family.

But as you get older and demands come, important things don’t happen accidentally anymore. If they’re going to happen at all, they will happen because we choose to prioritize them and give them our time, our money, and our attention.

That’s true about writing books. It’s true about relationships and spiritual life.

It’s true about anything that matters.

Paul said there comes a time to “put away childish things” and think like an adult, and I think this is part of it: actually identifying what matters to us and choosing to live in line with that. It’s part of the beauty of being human, this ability to make ourselves and make our lives to some extent within our God-given context.

For me, writing books and telling stories is important. So BELOVED will get done — although realistically, that late fall release may turn into early winter. Thankfully I publish my own work so I can be a little elastic with deadlines. But it will only get done as part of a bigger whole, as part of a life where work and artistic expression are important but not all-consuming, because they’re just one little part of a life of worship.

Which can, perhaps, be defined as making choices mindfully and gratefully with the awareness that our context comes from God and that all that we choose to do within it is of him and to him and through him, for his glory and in the light of his grace.






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