Saturday, January 02, 2010

Tonight's the Night the World Begins Again

So remember that one time I felt impressed to finish my Abish book with a great sense of urgency? And how I let other parts of my life get in the way, and I put off my project? And then six months ago they published the book they chose over mine? A few months after the first rejection I got this one from Deseret Book. And though DB didn't say anything specific about why they passed over my book, their new catalog contains this:

From a previously published author. Apparently my sense of urgency was not something imagined. I can't help but wonder what six or even three months difference would have done. I also can't help but wonder how mine compares, though I'm also fearful to find out. What if I read both and they are good-ish and I get so discouraged I can't write anymore? Maybe such feeling will be the reality check I need to just move on with my life. Or what if they are rotten and I feel bitter? Bitter is a very bad place to be.

(On a lighter note, speaking of other writers doing the same thing I am, but having a wider audience so they actually get read--try this. I'm probably biased, but I think my own parody stacks up pretty well. It might actually be worth reading Eclipse again just to chunk out another one of these.)

I'd like to say I'm working on something original, but my latest pet project with the most potential is a fairy tale retelling. It is true that the fairy tale is a bit obscure and I haven't ever seen this particular story re-told, but I have this nagging fear that when it is finally ready to send out there will be three of the same circulating out there in the black hole of books never published. If this sounds a bit like discouragement, well, that is because it is a LOT like discouragement. This too shall pass.

All of this rambling, believe it or not, is leading to something.

I've been thinking about 2010 resolutions. My thoughts in recent months have been much on personal revelation.* Several discussions here have led me in that direction as well as these three talks from the latest General Conference. There are some things right now that I am struggling with--questions for which my own experience and understanding and knowledge have not provided answers. I listened again to the talked titled "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance" again this morning, and the end of Elder Scott's talk really hits home to me. The italics are my own:

"Have patience as you are perfecting your ability to be led by the Spirit. By careful practice, through the application of correct principles, and by being sensitive to the feelings that come, you will gain spiritual guidance. . . as you pray with all the fervor of your soul with humility and gratitude, you can learn to be consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life. I testify that you can personally learn to master the principles of being guided by the Spirit. . ."

I've lately begun to think that the greatest test of our lives, and perhaps the most important thing we can learn how to do, is to first LEARN and then secondly DO what the Lord would want us to do. Receiving revelation is a both a gift and a skill. It isn't just something that happens at random times without any work on our end. And like with any skill, practice makes you better. I have had times in my life when I have listened closely to the Lord's promptings and then acted on them. Sometimes the blessings for doing so have been immediate; sometimes those blessings take longer to come. But they always have come. I need to get better at both listening at at acting.

To that end, my 2010 goals are fewer in number than last year, and all relate to the BIG goal of fulfilling the plan the Lord has for my life.

1. I will get less hung up if my Martha tasks are unfinished and concentrate harder on the Mary tasks. (Luke 10:38-42) Oops, there goes my Etsy store.

2. I will re-establish the habit of meaningful prayer in my life.

3. I will record the spiritual impressions that I have.

4. I will continue my current course of scripture study, which has been wonderfully effective for me. (In the spring I bought an inexpensive set of scriptures that I have been cross-referencing to the conference talks and the footnotes. It is fascinating to see patterns emerge and passages of scripture that get continual emphasis.) I need to establish this fledgling habit more firmly so that it is a part of my life at least five days each week.

5. I will work harder to maintain harmony in my family relationships--particularly towards and between my kids.

6. I will attend the temple between six and 12 times this year. At least every other month, if not every month.

7. I will get more sleep--my greatest lifestyle barrier to making the others more successful.

I vowed to post contest winners here today, but this post is lengthy enough. Besides, I haven't determined a winner yet. I guess you'll have to come back again.

I've found that putting my resolutions on my blog is a really great way for me to be more diligent about them. While certainly nothing earth-shattering or unique, their nearly daily reminder on my side-bar helps to keep me honest with myself. Feel free to add your resolutions here, or to add your own thoughts on keeping the channels of communication with God open.

*It has come to my attention lately that there are some regular-ish readers here who don't share my religion. Aspects of my faith, perhaps, but our practice is different. A post such as this, with its deeply personal, spiritual outlook and terminology that may be unique to the LDS tradition can seem alienating. Today's discussion is about "personal revelation." This concept might also be termed insight, intuition, conscience or spiritual guidance. And yet, I think it is something beyond all of that. The first two on the list imply that you have some instinct that guides you a certain way based on your experience and personality. The idea of "conscience" is more about simple decisions between right and wrong--a moral compass that guides our actions. The last is closer to what I'm getting at here, provided that the spiritual guidance is coming from without, and not from within. The Mormon story, from its very beginning, is about the importance of reading, studying and learning, but then coming to a place where you ask God Himself to place knowledge in your mind and in your heart. This knowledge seldom comes in dramatic or miraculous ways (though it does), but is more likely to come quietly. For an excellent tutorial on LDS theology regarding this concept, please read this talk/sermon by Vicki Matsumori. She helps to facilitate programs world-wide for the children in our church under the age of 12; in this particular talk she speaks very clearly, concisely, and lovingly about the ways in which our Father in Heaven communicates with us.


Melanie said...

It seems that Elder Scott's talk hit a chord with many of us. I recently spoke in my ward about the importance of learning to hear the voice of the Spirit. I believe that the Spirit speaks to us in many, many different ways and that learning to understand how the Lord communicates with us is a lifelong process - perhaps the most important learning process of this life.

heidikins said...

Firstly--I am so glad you and Mel are friends...I adore her and I think you are fantastic. I love that you "know" each other.

Secondly--I am floored by your list, so many good things!! Huzzah for you. (Can one publicly "huzzah" a list of spiritual improvements? Will I get struck by lightning for being irreverent?)


Amy T. said...

OK, I liked the spiritual stuff as well, but I finally watched Julie & Julia tonight after getting the kids to bed, which is why I thought I'd come back & read your stuff after a lengthy absence. (Loved "Muerte" & Meryl, the other couple was ok). It's your comments about being published that struck a chord in this post.

I was reminded again tonight that everything new that I could ever share has already been said. It's frustrating to come along a generation or two after everything meaningful has been discovered. I realize that statistically, that can't be true, but the competition of ideas inherent in every facet of today's world squelches nearly every creative, artistic yearning I may have been born with. I feel such kinship with many different "firsts" that their discoveries/accomplishments seem almost mine, but they've already opened that door & been followed by so many others. I avoid crowds whenever possible.

Regional success seems like all anyone who maintains their integrity can hope for in today's world, & I'm sorry, but an Anita Stansfield or other "Wasatch Front" phenomenan doesn't cut it for me as success to aspire to. There's such a glut of words out there, I'm left speechless.

I'd still love to read your novel, if you ever get around to it & really love reading what you write when I actually get on here. I admire the care you seem to give to your inner author. It just stirs things in me sometimes that cause me disease in my current situation with so very little time for self-examination. The quote that's stayed with me long after every other detail of the movie "Bull Duram" was erased from my mind is "The world was made for those who aren't cursed with self-awareness." Keep fighting for whatever is pushing you. Myself, I'm not even going there...

Amy T. said...

All of that refers to contributions outside of my home & personal circle of influence, right?

Lady Susan said...

I am all for "getting more sleep." That has been an unspoken/unwritten resolution of mine for many many years. It is also one that I have been able to keep for the most part. ;)

Jenny said...

I admire your enlightenment spiritually and scripturally (is that a word?) from 2009, and that you're striving for improvement is huge. You're living your dream. May you see your dream of being a published author come to fruition.

emandtrev said...

You consistently impress me! I too believe that you will realize your dream to be a published author. This post also makes me realize that I need to get serious about revisiting/recommitting to some of my resolutions!

Miranda J said...

I am sorry about Abish and glad you took a moment to grieve. I also see in this situation something very affirming which is you 'knew' deep in your heart that you needed to move on this. In the future, you can trust yourself even more!
My best,