This year, the word I’ve focused on is “trust.” Ironically, I never had trust issues with family or friends or my husband. Only God.
At the beginning of the year, I saw myself as someone that didn’t trust God enough. He has worked on me, not just this year but every year in this area. Kids with my background typically do have trust issues, and I apparently focused all mine on God.
But in the many areas I’ve pushed myself to actively trust this year, I’ve also reflected back on my life and found areas where I did trust, like my career. I’ve been a writer since I was a kid, and I have earned a living at it in one way or another for most of my adult life. I can see now that God was there with me from the beginning.
In 2003, I was still working in marketing full time while I was also doing a side project just for me. I worked on publishing my first poetry book. It was a project I wanted to do for my personal goals and I did not think I would sell a single copy.
My boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband), asked why I thought it wouldn’t sell. Well, duh… it’s poetry! He thought it would sell, and I thought he was just saying that because we were dating.
I wasn’t just being modest. Poetry books do not sell. People like poetry in general, or have a favorite poem, but they don’t usually buy poetry books.
Still, I had a background in marketing. I’d worked for various organizations for 20 years doing things like writing press releases, contacting reporters, writing white papers, designing postcards, proposals… and on and on. While I had NO IDEA how to promote a poetry book (or a book at all, since I hadn’t yet published anything else), I started doing research.
When I look back, I see God in the midst of this. I wonder if I saw Him there at the time? But I do now. Because, while I had published this first poetry book (first ever book period) I was not confident in myself. I was getting there. I had changed a LOT by then. But I had not developed enough self-esteem or ego to think that something as subjective as my poetry would be marketable. More to the point, I did not have the confidence I needed to promote myself.
But I did it anyway. I read everything I could read on book promotion, I joined groups, I contacted I don’t know how many places for interviews, I experimented with advertising, and I pitched story ideas over and over to just about everywhere.
The book sold 1,000 copies that first year. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, remember that this is poetry. I was amazed that that many people who didn’t know me bought this book. It was a blessing that helped me see that I had a message to share.
What I needed most then was confidence, and God blessed me with book sales. Those sales weren’t to make me rich (hello! there is a reason poets are known for being poor) but to give me a push to keep going.
I took the money I made from my poetry book and put it right back into my business. I published two more books the following year: another poetry book and a nonfiction book about dating. The dating book was much easier to promote, but I still continued marketing it. Every night I sat with my laptop in front of the TV and sent out queries and pitches.
And then…. my health forced me to quit my job. This was a horrible moment. I cried and became depressed. We needed my income. And now… what?
I wasn’t thinking about writing as a full time job then. The books I’d published were still side projects. But the blessings came then. I had learned not to just pitch my book but my story and writing ability and doing so I gained clients. Everything in publishing has been like the Wild West since I started this, with the rules changing frequently. So I kept learning. I tried things I had no idea how to do.
Doing freelance work allowed my health to improve and within a year I was able to go full time with it. Every day, I pitch for work, write, and promote myself and my books, and this has stayed the same for a decade now. I see the way God has blessed me in my career. I know even with hard work it is God’s blessings that give us the good stuff.
I also know that many of the blessings I get now might be ones I won’t see until later on. People might be reading my stories now and later on they’ll be clients. Or they might be moved by something I write and I might not find out about it at all this side of heaven.
But I also know that many of the blessings I get from this job (beside the ability to help support my family) are also for me personally. I get healing and confidence and peace from writing, as much as I get any of the other “writerly” blessings like good reviews or monetary benefit.
This year has been focused on the word “trust” for me, in part because I thought it was an area I really wanted to grow in. I’ve been doing a lot of reflection and mindfully stepping out on faith in ways I might have been too fearful to do before.
But I am also reflecting on how God’s blessings have happened in my work life thus far, and trust that God has given me opportunities with my career and I want to make the most of them. I see how each blessing has built on another one and I am grateful for them all.