Sunday, August 11, 2013

My A-ha Moment (Or, Realm Makers Part 1 1/2: My Thoughts on the Birth of a Genre)

I'll be honest, I really get annoyed when I read blog posts that are "inspired" by the blogger's pastor's sermon, or just an expansion on a devotion they read that morning. I'm not sure why, but it feels rather often that they're just rehashing someone else's thoughts.

The exception is when the blog post is about the blogger and a major a-ha moment that happened to them because of the sermon or devotional or whatever.

Which is what happened to me today.

Our Sunday school lesson this morning was about following God's will. Are you spiritually paranoid, meaning you worry about every little decision (red shirt or green today?) being "wrong"? Or are you spiritually ambivalent, meaning you can never discern God's will and have basically given up and gone your own way?

Well, my answer was that I'm spiritually frustrated--meaning I don't worry about the insignificant details, but I do want the general path of my life to follow God's will, and I'm not always sure what that is. I think a lot of us feel that way.

I spoke up and talked about this in light of my writing. I said that I do feel that writing is something God wants me to do, and I tend to get all worried that I'm not working on the right thing. Should I be writing more (even though I get a lot of comments about how prolific I am)? Should I be marketing more? Should I be giving up and spending more time with my family? Should I be giving up and pursuing something else?

I went on to say how I feel like my (lack of) success as a writer doesn't always seem like it's reinforcing the idea that this is what I ought to be doing, that this is what God wants me to do. Yes, I admit, I said that because I'm not on any best-seller lists (just my example) maybe it means I shouldn't be writing.

But then, stuff just started coming out--thoughts, translated into words, that I had never considered before.

A-ha moment.

I haven't had any big successes, but I've had lots and lots and lots of little ones. Those little ones really add up. Think about someone tracking an animal through the woods, finding little things like broken branches and half-footprints and such. I've gotten small awards and great reviews and these have all been strung along my journey, each saying, yes, you're going the right way, take the next step.

And then my thoughts, and words, went to Realm Makers. I went there looking forward to meeting all these people, fellow writers, that I've gotten to know online. THAT was the best part of the weekend and the thing I most looked forward too--and I'm so happy to say that everyone I met was even cooler and more wonderful than I'd hoped for :).

But what occurred to me today was that I got so much more from the conference. And no, I don't mean that I learned a lot (although I did!).

No, what hit me today, what made my head spin, is that writing is just a part of what God has in store for me. But the big picture is this:

I get to be part of the birth of a new genre. 

Christian Spec-fic is just being born right now. It's been developing in a hidden place where so many people aren't even aware. But it's coming out! And everything -- EVERYTHING -- that happened at Realm Makers felt like it had God's hand on it. God's blessing.

We ARE honoring Him. We are birthing a genre that God wants out there. I could feel it, all weekend, with every word said, every friendship strengthened, every round of applause.

As I said in my last post, Becky Minor's organizing skills blew me away. But you know what--she couldn't have failed if she'd tried. She stepped forward in obedience to God and took on this huge project, and while she is amazing, she had Him backing her every step of the way. And the volunteers, and the attendees....we were all a part of it, all of us stepping up and saying, yes, Lord, we're willing to do this for You. Not just willing--we're excited all the way down to our bones over it!

And. It. Was. Awesome. 


ElizabethLiberty said...

YES! I totally sympathize about the spiritually frustrated bit. And that is a great ah-ha moment. ;)

My mom likes to tell me a story, when I'm agonizing over a decision, of a friend of hers who was short of money and didn't know whether to buy a trailer or continue living in a rental house. She kept praying and praying and finally she said God told her "I can bless you in a house, or in a trailer." He's so reassuring. xD

Jill said...

I've agonized over the same. Writing takes up so much time--time that could be spent with family or serving others in a more tangible way. It's not just any career. It's a way of life.

Because I understand so well, I congratulate you on your aha moment. You're part of something very important. It's good for you to recognize the value in what you do.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Cool story, Elizabeth! (And Elizabeth's mom :).

Thanks, Jill. It was like some kind of weight lifting--that this isn't about *my* writing career, but about our whole group, our whole genre, and that I'm sharing that with a group of awesome people.

Sonja Hutchinson said...

Kat, you're not alone. I also feel frustrated at times. And I'll admit that I'm envious of your "success" - you have stuff published! You might not be on any best-selling lists, but you have books with your name on them. I'm happy for you in that. I especially love that Christian spec-fic is finally catching on, because I have three novels that fit so neatly into that genre and currently have no place to pitch them. I'll keep plugging away, and I know you will, too. What a journey! God is good.

Kristen Stieffel said...

Amen, Kat!

Thank you for putting this so eloquently. You really crystallized the vision!

RebeccaPMinor said...

Kat, you are so right about the fact that any success I had in getting this conference together had nothing to do with me or any talent of mine. I just said "OK, I don't know how to do this, but I'll step out. It's going to be up to you to bring me the people who can make this work." And out of nowhere, people like Ben Erlichman and Matt Yocum emailed me and said, "I need to help you with this." Or people like Morgan Busse said, "I'm in touch with Kathy Tyers... I think she might be interested in being involved." The stories go on and on, all the way down to little things like the car rental place having to upgrade us to a small SUV, and if they hadn't, all the stuff we had to bring never would have gotten to St. Louis.

I, too, share your sense of frustration at the writing end of what I'm doing, but I do believe God has used this conference to assure many of us that he has plans for this genre, or for Christians writing speculative fiction to the broader market. I can't wait to see what he wants to do going forward. I'm terrified, but I also can't wait. ;)

Thanks for the excellent thoughts!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Sonja, from what you've said to me in emails, I think you're on your way! :)

And thank you, Kristen!

Becky, I agree--so many things just clicked for this event. I expected glitches all over, not out of doubt in your abilities or anyone involved, but just because "first time" ANYTHING will have glitches. But things went so smoothly--it just felt like God was working all over the place. I can't wait to see what's in store, too. And you can SO count on me for next year!

Rich Durst said...

Thank you for writing this. I saw it posted on the RealmMakers Facebook page, and I'm glad I did.

I'm a fellow writer, but I'm also an artist, and I find I do best when I can express my stories in visual form, so I draw a webcomic. My dream is to one day publish paperback comics, and maybe even do full-budget TV animation.

I've spent a decade going back and forth over whether I actually want to seriously pursue this, but time and again I keep finding myself called back to these artistic pursuits. I have a bad habit of getting discouraged, of thinking I'll never measure up to my dreams, of losing faith that this is really what God wants from me, and then abandoning my art for months or years at a time. But I always wind up miserable without it. And every time I pick that pencil back up and rededicate myself to my art, I get filled with joy and purpose.

Your thoughts here have really helped me. From now on, I'm not going to be looking for big-ticket success, fame and acclaim. I'll look at all the little successes along the way, and remember that those are the signs on the trail to let me know I'm in God's will.

Thank you so much, Kat!

Kristen Stieffel said...

Hang in there, Rich. Never give up on your art! Move in the direction of joy and purpose. The money may not follow, but contentment will, which is more valuable.

Kat Heckenbach said...

You're so welcome, Rich. And thank you for commenting! It makes ME feel good to know the inspiration is being shared :).

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading about your trip and Ah-ha moment, Kat, and about the birth of a new genre. Your fans at Brandon Christian Writers have all been impressed by your "little successes" along the way in your writing journey. Do not quit! You're right about God's blessing through those...they are His way of encouraging you and connecting you to all the new and many friends you have now as a result. Can't wait to see what this next year holds for you. Loved the pics, too!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thank you :).