Susan is offering 1 copy of her new release, A FALL OF MARIGOLDS. The winner will be announced here on Friday, November 28th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment.
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What Ships Are For by Susan MeissnerI am in a passionate love affair with words but I waited a long time to do anything really creative with my love for writing. I was 42 before I wrote my first book even though I had wanted to write a novel since I was a teenager. I had been too afraid. I’d been afraid I wasn’t up to the challenge, afraid no one would want to read any book of mine, afraid of failing.
I was no stranger to fear. I had terrible fears when I was a kid – all unfounded and all due to a highly active imagination, which I am glad I have now but which did not help me when I was younger.
I was afraid of up-and-down horses on carousels. I was afraid of sunflowers that were taller than me. I was afraid to learn to swim, to ride a bike, to roller skate, to go down a slide, and of blimps flying above me. I was afraid of the robot on Lost in Space, Mr. Bubble, Mr. Peanut, the Michelin Man and Mr. Clean.
Obviously, I have gotten over these childhood fears. I did finally learn Mr. Bubble wasn’t going to start talking to me in my bathtub and the Michelin Man wasn’t going to chase me down the street and suffocate me with his tire arms.But since I had a pattern of fearing things, I just adapted what I was afraid of. And even though I’d had several high school teachers encourage me as a writer, one in particular who knew I had it within me to be a published novelist, when I became an adult, I decided that kind of writing was just going to be a hobby and it would only be for me.
When I turned 42, I was editor of a weekly newspaper. But I wasn’t happy. I was restless. I wasn’t writing what I really wanted to write. What was burning within me weren’t stories about five generations of yodelers and the bank’s new manager and the high school debate team’s stellar showing at state. I had these ideas for swimming in my head and I was doing nothing about them. It took the death of my beloved grandfather, my Papa, to show me that my life was half-over – I was exactly half his age when he died. I finally understood I would rather live with rejection than regret.
When I finally quit my job at the newspaper to write my first book, I had no idea if anyone would publish it, I just knew I was meant to do this and I was going to be restless until I did. God has wired all of us for some unique purpose. But we have to be brave enough to take risks with our passions and strengths (instead of keeping them safe inside us) if we’re going to find out what that purpose is. When the book was finished, it took a frustrating year to find a publisher willing to take a risk on it. But it did happen. That was in 2003 and I have been writing novels ever since.
There is a saying that goes like this. A ship is safe in the harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.
If you’re in a restless spot, may I encourage you to consider if you’ve been at anchor too long? The wide sea beckons you. If you don’t at least try to do your heart yearns for, your outcome is the same as failing. You may as well give it a go! Why not give it your best effort and see what God may do with it. Regret is heavy weight, friend. Rejection is the easier of the two.
I will close with this lovely quote by Luci Shaw: “The cliff edge of our anxiety about the future may indicate that God is calling us to a new and different level of faith. When we walk, praying for guidance, to the edge of all the light we have and breathlessly take that first step into the foggy mystery of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen; either God will provide us with something rock-solid to land on and stand on, or He will teach us to fly.”
See you on the horizon.
Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named by BookList’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she's not working on a novel, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church.
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