Let’s Be Honest…About Goals

Where are you going?

In a world still full of travel restrictions, fear, mandates, and opinionated hypocrites, this question might seem a bit taboo. Many of us aren’t going anywhere. And if we do go somewhere, we might try to hide our whereabouts. No need to upset family and friends, or a job that’ll make us quarantine.

But where doesn’t have to be a new state or country. Where can be as localized or foreign as we desire. Where can be a state of mind.

But we need to go somewhere.

Do you wake up with a jump in your step, or do you curl into a ball under the covers? Be honest. Okay, I’ll go first: my bed is the comfiest mountain of soft pillows and billowing warm blankets. A black hole would be less magnetizing. It hurts to leave it every morning to take Riker to school. I want to forget my responsibilities, my worries, anxieties, and just stop adulting for as long as my covers will hold me.

It’s hard being positive 100% of the time. It’s difficult facing people, even when you’re an extrovert. It’s a struggle to take a step when the path is invisible. And it’s totally okay to admit that!!

I knew I wanted to write about goals this month. To beautifully ask what motivates us, and how our daily dreams bring brighter futures. How Christ set us free to be free, and not to be in bondage by condemnation any longer. How goals help us to spring out of bed with renewed strength. But, honestly, let’s just keep on being real here: how can I write about something I’m struggling with myself??

I’ve talked for years about my love of writing. How I dream of being a best selling author with book tours, tv/movie deals, and entering a book store to see my novels on the NY best seller shelves. I have several manuscripts that I’ve either finished or am starting to write (you can see my growing list in Upcoming Books). But, as you can see, half of this list are manuscripts that have been “shelved” until further notice.

The two shelved picture books might never see the light of day, to be honest. I love the stories and illustrations I created, but my style of writing tends to lean more mature than for children. I need to work on that if I want to pursue this genre, but honestly, I love writing for adults. So, I’m okay with these two being shelved. I LOVE the adult picture book I’m creating right now, and I like to think my illustration skills are improving with each picture. But, I still have so so many doubts. Test readers didn’t like my poetic style with my first two picture books, so why should I feel confident in this one? Do I dare let test readers tell me their thoughts so my hopes can be dashed again? This doubt in my talent haunts me.

If you follow my Facebook author page, or have met me via the Montrose Writers Conference in PA, then I KNOW you’ve heard me gush about my book The Judas Killer. The Judas Killer was my baby. My first finished book. The manuscript I toiled over for YEARS. It took me 3 years to finish it, and 3 more years to edit it through over a dozen rewrites. I had a bunch of literary agents interested, and such high hopes for my dreams coming true, but in the end I had 85 rejects. Yes, you read that right. 85.

I can’t get more honest than I’m being with you right now. I’ve never shared this number before. My first agent/publisher rejection came in March 2018. My last rejection came March 2020. And I decided The Judas Killer must die at last.

I love that story. I love the characters. But my writing has actually gotten better since then. So, I tell myself that writing The Judas Killer was like going through 6 years of literary college, and I move on.

The book I just finished is my new baby: Neutral Abyss. This book has had so many countless obstacles that I’ve lost track of its survivor story. I began writing Neutral Abyss in mid 2019. Writing was slow then because I was finishing up my job at Rock Solid Academy, we were getting ready to move here, and then I had that annoying cancer. Once we moved, I hit a beautiful stride despite having to home school, and finished the book in June 2020. Then I had 4 test readers quit on me before they even started reading. I had 2 quit after they started reading. I did have a few finish who loved it, but 1 of my readers spurred a political debate that sadly ended our friendship. I rewrote my first chapter 4 times. I rewrote my whole book twice.

Example of 1 rejection letter.

The good news: my latest readers LOVE it. It’s a strong story. It’s downright powerful. The characters are real. The message needs to be told. But, I can’t help but think about The Judas Killer and those 85 rejections.

Neutral Abyss is a dystopian time travel story about the love and struggles between a torn family. During the pandemic the need for “essential” jobs, the rise of hate crimes, and the separation growing in politics, sparked a question in my mind that I wanted to answer through this stoy: Is it worth sacrificing our art and individuality to create a peaceful society with no war, disease, or conflict?

But, I can’t seem to get any agent to read this book because I’m being told time travel is a “hard sell.” Cue the frustrated scream.

The rejections are building, and I’m struggling to be motivated enough to get out of bed.

There was a time in my life that I loved talking about myself. I freakin’ loved attention. Good and bad didn’t matter, as long as people noticed me. But this faded with experiences and age. I’ve been hurt over the years. Now, I rarely bring up my issues, my struggles, my thoughts. I don’t want to be a burden, and I don’t want to be hurt again. But it’s okay to be honest.

We ALL struggle. We ALL have issues. We’ve ALL been hurt in some way. We’ve ALL had rejection.

Sometimes when we only show our good sides, other people think they’re the only ones going through something. I’d be remissed to tell you all to “be positive” and “trust in God” if my own life was rainbows and roses.

I’ve been honest with you when it comes to my writing life. But, honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But that’s okay. I don’t need to share every bloody detail of my life for you to see a piece of me. An avalanche doesn’t solve a drought; a little rain will help the crops grow.

When our lives are drowning in rejections, failures, and comfy blankets, it’s okay to admit that we don’t know what to do. Yes, goals will get us out of bed. Yes, goals will give us ambition and motivation. Yes, goals help the world start to spin again. But, goals alone won’t solve our problems.

The first step is to stop being so bloody hard on ourselves! It’s OKAY to rest. It’s OKAY to cry. It’s OKAY to admit we can’t do things on our own. Gosh, just read Psalms and you can see for yourself how often David cried and asked God for help.

The second step is to go forward. It doesn’t matter if it’s a crawl, baby step, or lunge. Just go forward. Step out of bed. Open your Bible. Turn that computer on and try one more time. Step out your front door. Call that friend. Send another e-mail. Try again!

The third step is DON’T STOP. Especially if you fail again. Get back up. Cry again if you need to. Eat the triple chocolate fudge ice cream with a side of “HELP ME, LORD!” and try again.

I didn’t know if I’d get a blog post out this month. It was hard. It’s hard to be motivated when you don’t know where you’re going. It’s even harder when the opinionated hypocrites love telling you what to do. But I’m going to admit I can’t go on without the guidance of my Jesus, take a step, and try again.

And, I did it, honestly.

I’m going to end this post the same way I started. Where are you going? Because I can’t freakin’ wait to hear your success stories.

My latest illustration for my new picture book for adult creatives.
May you part the seas today with whatever you do and wherever you go!!


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