On the off chance there’s a reader who still gives a fig and has not heard the news by some other means, here’s an update on the Operation First Novel contest for which my book was a contender.
Mom and I flew to Denver and found our way to the fancy-shmancy hotel hosting the Writing for the Soul conference. Jerry B. Jenkins made the big announcement the first night, with three of the five finalists in attendance.
After spending the previous month emailing back and forth, Jim, Peter, and I felt like old friends when we finally met face to face. We sat together for moral support, wishing Clarice and Kimberley had been able to join us. In alphabetical order, they called us to the front while our photos came up on the big screens along with the title and tag-line for each book. Just like the Oscars! (Well, ok, maybe not just like. Work with me.)
The three of us stood there while the CEO of Worthy Publishing, the contest’s sponsor, waxed eloquent. I can’t speak for the others, but I stood there with heart racing and antiperspirant begging for mercy. Nodding and smiling, I pretended to listen. I couldn’t tell you a word the man said to save my life.
Then they announced the name of the winner.
Was it mine? Nope.
Had I expected it would be? Nope.
Was I disappointed anyway? Yep
Was I happy for Peter? You bet I was.
Did I secretly hope my congratulatory hug might strangle him? Naturally.
Was my mother bummed? Yeah, I think so.
Was my mother proud anyway? Yep.
Did everyone back home say all the right things? They sure did.
Did I learn some things through the experience? Absolutely.
Does God still love me?
Well now, let’s think about that.
While I accused him otherwise, the truth is, he loves me too much. Too much to let me receive things I’m not ready for. Too much to allow my book to see publication before it’s the best it can be. Too much to make it easy for me. Too much to not teach me patience and persistence. Too much to strike me dead for questioning his strange timing. Too much to let my influence outgrow my character.
Like any good and wise parent, God knows when (if ever) I’ll be ready to handle what might come with such a sizable book contract. For the rest of the weekend, Peter found himself besieged by other writers looking for advice. He told me that while he enjoyed the attention, it exhausted him. Meanwhile, I felt buoyed by folks telling me how blessed they felt to see Jim and me celebrating for Peter.
“I couldn’t tell who won,” one lady said. “You looked genuinely happy, but I was pretty sure your name wasn’t Peter!”
And you know what? I was. And I guess that’s one of the things I learned. It really is possible to be disappointed and happy at the same time.
Been disappointed lately? Maybe God loves you too much, too. Promise me you won’t quit.