Am I Growing?

On the first day of the eighth grade, my son and I went to Meet the Teacher Night. He hadn’t seen any of his school friends all summer, so he was surprised when they showed up and were, according to him, as tall as NBA players. No joke, everyone, even the girls, towered over my son by at least a foot.

A year later we found out that he had an issue with his pituitary gland. It wasn’t producing, so he wasn’t getting any taller. In order for him to grow at the rate he was supposed to, the doctor would need to treat him with hormone shots.

He had a doctor’s appointment today, nearly a year after the first shot, and we got the news that he’s gotten nearly a foot taller, with room still left to grow. And we are both overjoyed. It was a surprise. While we mark the doorframe every few months, we hadn’t measured with the tape. We saw the progress, but he had no clue of the numbers. We hadn’t quantified his growth.

Which leads me to wonder, how am I going to know, over the next year, how far I’ve grown? How will I know when I’ve moved passed failing? How will I know when I’ve won?

I’m not even sure if there is a tried and true way to quantify success. What if I don’t make more money over the next twelve months? What if I still haven’t finished a novel? What if I’m still a nagging single mother? Can I still be a winner? Or will I have gotten stuck failing?ver the next twelve months, I’m going to have to complete yet another task. I’ll have to figure out a way evaluate my own success. Does anyone have any ideas on how?

I decided today, in the car on the way home, that over the next twelve months, I’m going to have to complete yet another task. I’ll have to figure out a way evaluate my own success without driving myself crazy. There has to be an easy way to figure out how.


A Whole Bunch of Writers

I’m writing from the sky! (Excuse the terrible picture.)

The 2017 Spring/Fall residency is over and I am both incredibly thankful and exhausted. Nine days, four workshops, three social engagements, two mentor meetings, two public readings, and too many seminars to count, and I feel like I’ve interacted with more writers in the past week than I have all year!

Which leads me to the purpose of this post: if you need motivation, if you’re looking for inspiration, or maybe an opportunity to network, or you want to strengthen your craft skills – apply to an MFA program. If you can’t do that (which I totally understand), join or begin your own writers’ group. Find yourself some writer friends!

There’s nothing in the world like connecting with other writers. There’s nothing more motivating than having published authors, men and women who have already experienced the success you desire, take you and your work seriously. And you get that in an MFA program.

Though I’ve never been more worn out in my life, I’m excited about my writing. I’m excited about the people I connected with during the residency, and I’m also pumped for the reading assignments I’ll have over the next five months. And I know for sure, that if I do it right, I’ll end up with one hundred pages of new material. If I do it right, I’ll be one step closer to checking off one of my goals.

Explanation, MFA, Uncategorized

MFA or Bust

To recap: Following the advice of two writers I knew, I decided I would leave the MA program if I gained acceptance to a low-residency MFA program. And to put pressure on it, the MA program I was currently in, closed registration within a few days of my decision to apply. This only mattered because I was afraid that if I took a break from school, to wait for news of a Spring acceptance, I would quit. I needed direction. I needed favor. So, I prayed for just that.

Then I moved on it. I called the school on a Wednesday, to see if they would expedite my application. I was told it wouldn’t happen. To say I was disappointed, was an understatement. But I kept going. I kept waiting for God to come through. Even if God came through with a dose of perfect peace and a rejection letter.

And then, I got a call from the chair of the MFA Program. He notified me that he’d had a last minute cancellation and that my application was the only one on his desk.

The next semester’s apps hadn’t come in yet. He could read my submission if I wanted. I said yes! It took a week for the director and the board to make a decision, but the day before the workshop began, if I was offered admission. The next day I was on a plane.

God had made it so I had the money for housing and transportation. God miraculously use a fluke situation that had held up a check, that ended up being released within a week of my acceptance. God worked it out so that I had willing people to help take care of my responsibilities at home. God worked it all out.

And I am so thankful!


The First Leap

It’s been a year since I decided to apply to a master’s program. My pastor had recently spoken about the company we keep. He’d said that if we remain in situations where we are always the smartest person in the room, we won’t grow. He said we should surround ourselves with people who inspire and motivate us through their success.

At the time, I was in a writers group, and all of the participating women were applying to professional programs. I hadn’t considered applying before then, but witnessing their confidence triggered something in me. I thought, if a new career is within reach for them, and they are adults with responsibilities, families, and jobs just like me, why can’t I have one too?

So, I applied to a local program. It wasn’t what I should have gone for, but it was close and safe. I’d heard about low-residency MFA programs, which were what I should have been aiming for, but I thought traveling would be too much. I let the thought of leaving my professional and personal responsibilities, even for a few days, scare me. I’m thankful that God doesn’t scare off so easily! Because before I ended my first quarter in the wrong program, God sent two instructors to direct me to the low residency program I’m in now. And it happened in the most miraculous way.

Stay tuned and I’ll give you my testimony. No worries, it’s a good one 🙂


Whose Big Idea Is This Anyway?

So… who’s the nut with the failure plan?

Turn around. It’s me. I’m the lady who sits behind you in church. I’m the loud lady who always has her hands lifted; who spends one Sunday bellowing about the Lord’s goodness and then the next Sunday drowning in her own unbelief. I’m the lady who spent praise & worship balling about her empty ring finger, her dissatisfaction with her 9-5, and the worries she has about her teenage son. Look around. See if you can find me.

What am I being so dramatic about? What do I want? Well, that’s easy.

  1. TO WRITE… I want to write professionally.
  2. AN MFA… I want to pursue my master’s degree. (We’ll talk more about that later.)
  3. TO LET THE KID GROW UP… I want to stop suffocating my son.
  4. TO EXPAND MY CIRCLE… I want friends. I want to meet an Idris Elba look alike and make my last name his last name 🙂

Let’s be honest. I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish any of these things. I’m not even sure if it’s realistic to believe that I can. But I’m committed to doing the work. Over the next year, I’m going to do the work and write about it here. And I’ll start with trying and failing (and trying again) on my MFA. Stay tuned.


Fail Hard/Fail Often

It is not my goal to fail. Let’s get that clear from the start. This is not a blog about personal sabotage. I want to be successful and wealthy. I want to be joyful and healthy.

The amplified Bible says in John 10:10:

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

Up until a few months ago, and take into consideration that I am 37 years old, I thought John 10:10 meant that God was going to hand me stuff: a great writing career, a wonderful husband, a beautiful home… service opportunities that require no sweat or sacrifice.

For all those years, I thought God would hand my life to me. I’d wake up one day, sit down at my computer and find myself speed-typing a divinely inspired book. And it would flow out whole and perfect, complete and ready for publication.

Later the same week, with my newly written manuscript tucked beneath my arm, I’d miraculously collide with an Idris Elba look-a-like, who would then bend down on one knee and present me with an embarrassingly large engagement ring.

That’s what I thought the promise of an abundant life meant, that at the right time, I’d instantly be handed everything I ever wanted without any effort on my part. All I had to do was wait. And believe me, I wasn’t doing very good at waiting.

But that isn’t God’s plan. God is the one waiting, and God is waiting for works, my works.

Taking steps toward my goal is scary. I can make a mistake. I can work and work and things may not happen the way I want them to. I can work and work and still fail.

But I can’t let that stop me anymore.

Over the next year, I am going to try. I am going to reach for the desires of my heart, after all, they’ve been given to me. (Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart, Psalm 37:4.)I am going to move forward even if I stumble a little bit. (Because He’s able to keep me from falling, and I don’t have to worry.) Even if it looks like I’ve failed. Even if everyone thinks I’ve failed. Even if they retweet and repost and blog about how I’ve failed, I’m going to move forward.

Well, at least that’s the plan.