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Writevotional – A Life Without Regrets

Photo Courtesy: Mehmet Goren

I’m sure as a writer you have lofty dreams, right?

Author Jey Corder explained about his dreams as a scribe on his blog.  I can totally understand his disappointment.  You can pop over there to see his thoughts on the luscious dreamy world of writing success vs. reality.

For me, this will be a confessional to you…no, I don’t like to use that word.

Let me be transparent.

I have really messed up bad.

Let me explain.

I started the journey of a heroic writer with my feet running.  I was winning contests and giving rave reviews for other writers on Writing.com.  Started a successful blog.  I wanted more though.  I wanted to make a zenith of success.

So I would be glued to the computer like a starving man looking for a cracker.  If any information on how to improve my writing or blogging was found, I devoured, slurped off the meat, and spit out the bones.

Unfortunately, during the quest for greatness…something sinister was brewing in the background.

God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.  Later, God was going to show me my blind spot in all its ugliness.  More on this later.

The library in our county is not the best library in the world.  A mere shadow of comparison to the library of my former hometown.  The library made a grievous error one day.  They shared with me secret information. This information was dangerous if you are a writer. Keep reading.

One day, I was looking for a particular set of graphic novels that the library did not have.  I wanted to study how a particular writer formed stories for comics.  I asked the librarian for help in finding them (Nosey Readers Alert: The graphic novel was Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan. Now stop being nosey, okay?).  The library search engine stated they had the books yet I couldn’t find them.

We worked together to scour the section where they were.

Nada.  Zip.  Goose eggs.

The librarian then lead me to the front desk and started to the order the books, “We can get these in for you.  In fact, I’ll get a few books from the series for you.”

Then she said the most melodic sound anyone can say to a writer (Remember the dangerous information I alluded to earlier.), “By the way, if you don’t see the books that you want, you can always ask them and we will see if we can get them in.  Just go to Amazon.com and get the ISBN number then give your request with us.”

Have you ever seen the old school Daffy Duck cartoon where he starts spazing and going “WOO-WOO-WOO-WHOOP-WHOOP-WHOOP?”   Yeah, that was me.

During the weekend, I combed through Amazon.com with “Ooo’s” and “Ahh’s.”  I send the book ISBN numbers to our local library.  Nothing like looking at your library account to see gobs of requests on hold lined up under your name.

Pure bliss.

One day I got a call to pick up books that I placed on hold.  The books were through the state’s  interlibrary loan program and I had minutes to read them or they would explode.

No, I’m kidding…they wouldn’t explode.   Of course not.  The Book Nazis would only charge me a $1.00 dollars a day per book if I’m late in returning them.  The two books (There you go being nosey again.) were “Rora” by James Byron Huggins and “Writing for the Soul” by Jerry B. Jenkins.

The creators of this program must had laughed with a delicious evil glee. They gave me only until May 18, 2011 to read Jenkins’ book and May 1, 2011 with Huggins’ book.

How sweet of them.

Here’s the catch: There is no renewals with Jenkins’ book.

So I turned to my wife and stated that I better start reading Jenkins’ book like yesterday. (Blast you, Evil Interlibrary Plutocrats!)  So I plunged into the book before the Gestapo came and confiscated it.

Writing for the Soul” is Jerry B. Jenkins’ autobiographical narrative stuffed with golden nuggets of writing truths.  Jerry comes across as very warm and inviting in his approach as he expounds on his personal journey being used of God through his writing.

Then the unexpected happened. God used this book to get my attention.

Before Jerry broke sales records with the Left Behind Series, he would do interviews as a freelance writer.  He interviewed sports stars and people of merit.  When I got to page 23, he stated something that disturbed me greatly.

Here is the excerpt:

By 1974, my income from freelance writing was soon matching my salary, and Dianna and I were getting more serious about starting a family.  In the course of my work over the past six months, however, I had interviewed several middle-aged men (all about twice my age) and believed God was trying to tell me something.

Though these men’s stories were totally disparate, during the interviews I asked each if he had any regrets at the current stage of his life.  To a man, each said he wished he spent more time with his kids during their growing-up years.  I discussed this with Dianna and said, “If I reach their age with the same regret, I’ll be without excuse.” (emphasis mine)

So we decided on a policy: Once we had children, I would bring home no work from the office and would not write from the time I got home from work until the time the kids went to bed.  More on that policy later, as it proved to have a dramatic effect on our home life.” (emphasis mine)

The Bible does not mince words.  This is the reason I like the majesty and power laced inside this beautiful Book.  The Scriptures say about a father’s responsibility in nurturing the children:

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wraith: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The Bible also talks about the importance of the father teaching them:

Deuteronomy 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Here is the convicting spotlight God was shining on my darkness.

In my relentless pursuit for greatness, I realized that I had lost perspective on what is important and had shut out my family and time with them. How could I nurture and teach our child if I wasn’t there but behind a computer desk? What is the priority?

With the time spent at the computer, my time with my family was slipping away due to my drive to be the best.  The heaviness of conviction blanketed over me.

Later that evening at the dinner table, I asked for my family’s forgiveness for spending more time on the computer than with them.

Since that time, I now only use the computer when our child is ready for bed.  The results are thrilling as we have all grown closer now.

I never again want to have my writing career or a box filled with chips and transmitters to usurp what God has graciously given me.

Thank, Mr. Jenkins, for being honest and bold enough to seek the higher path most writers would not dare take. Unfortunately, many writers have decided to fall into the quicksand of regrets and anguish.

How about you?

Are your priorities as a writer straight? Have the dream consumed you so much that you have forgotten about those who love and support you?


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10 thoughts on “Writevotional – A Life Without Regrets

  1. It sounds like you’ve got your priorities straight 🙂 Like all things, it requires a balance. Family is number one for me, but I make sure to save time to write. On the other hand, I’ve had to sacrifice things like tv (I’m down to almost none), video games, sometimes I say no to going out with friends (not always, because they’re important too), sometimes I save that good book for later, don’t sleep as much, cut out arts and crafts, a second blog, and just this weekend dropped my dance commitments too.

    Writing is still up there on the list 🙂 I get cranky if I don’t write. Cranky T = miserable husband. So it remains a priority, much supported by the spouse LOL

  2. Strangely enough, writing hasn’t tried to consume my life…yet, heh. It’s school I’ve been battling with lately, and I suspect that after I graduate work–real, career-building work, haha–will become the new thing to conquer when it comes to time-management and prioritizing.

    My parents have always supported and strongly encouraged me to make school a top priority. (I’ll be the first of the grandchildren to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, apparently, so it’s a pretty big deal.) They taught me to work hard, but sometimes I can work a little too hard–like to the point of locking myself away in my would-be studio all day, even skipping meals to get work done, haha. (Ehem.) Or, just as bad, getting distracted by reading a bunch of stuff on the internet then not getting much of anything else done (other than filling my brain with presently useless information).

    I think having priorities is important, and so is having variety. (If I didn’t indulge in distractions and “fun things” with friends and family every now and then I’d be the moodiest, glummest chick on the planet.) It’s healthy, it keeps you sane, it keeps you grounded, and it keeps you on track.

  3. This hit me hard. Right between the eyes.

    I used to work from home as a remote sales exec. But I would often continue to work into the evening, as it was so easy to do. But I had to get away from that and traveling so much.

    Now that I have decided to write again, it’s tough with three kiddos. I now wait until they go to bed to start writing. That’s why it took me five months to write 380 pages.

    I’m naturally a workaholic, so I have to force myself away from it. I don’t want those kinds of regrets. No way.

  4. It is exactly this – or this is exactly one of the reasons, at least – that I don’t write more than I do. When I get home, it’s family time. When my child goes to bed, then I can do other things – until I’m done with school, that’s mostly homework. Once homework is done… well… it’s usually time for bed (another must-do if you want to keep your mind sharp).

    It’s this dichotomy between career success (be that writing career or conventional career) and family success, though, that keeps me worried at night. It truly has become a vicious opposition in our modern society, and it is increasingly impossible to be fully successful in both. I could be making twice what I’m making now if I was willing to abandon my family four days a week to travel or otherwise spend my time involved in work. But I’d feel like a shell of a man if I did. The trade-off isn’t much better, though, but that’s a private struggle that I’m not sure I want to go into in a public space.

    • Amen, I agree totally. I am thankful for men like Jerry B. Jenkins for setting the right example. May we continue to encourage each other as men to do the right thing.

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