A few years ago, I purchased Michael Hyatt’s book, “Platform – Get Noticed In A Noisy World” at the urging of a well respected published author by the name of Sabrina Adams. After reading through the book once, I quickly determined that Michael’s formulas for success in an oversaturated world were way out of my league. So, I benched the book. Foolish.
You know, no one can defer your dreams unless you first give them permission by convincing yourself of your own failure. Michael’s book spoke of insane and outlandish possibilities. Things like:
- Make $100,000 a year doing what you love.
- Hit the New York Times Best Seller list.
- Becoming a CEO of a successful publishing house.
I mean, the man was literarilly telling me, “Ennis, you gotta give yourself permission to dream huge, brother! No, I mean really huge!”
It all sounds nice coming from a man who seems to have all his ducks in a row, but I was stuck just trying to break the egg in the first place. For years, I’ve held on to this fantastic dream of becoming a published fiction author of a book worthy of social buzz and chatter. But to do that would mean I’d actually have to be able to commit to writing a compelling story; something of substance; something of length. I would have to step away from the short-story scene and venture into the unknown and uncharted territory of novel writing.
Well, let me tell you how Satan works. See, first he tells you how much your writing sucks. Next, he whispers in your ear, saying no one in their right mind will read a guy who has no formal education in journalism, or (at the very least) taken a course or two in creative writing. Then he reminds you that your attention span for a single subject can only stand for about 750 words; maybe 1500 if you really stretch yourself. And finally, the pièce de résistance, he tells you to give up your fantasies and focus of the reality of the circumstances around you; ie. you don’t have any more time on this earth left to dream. Focus on your day job, because that’s what defines you as a person.
I’m speaking to you personally, aren’t I? We’re really getting to the heart of the matter you deal with. I know. Stay with me, because it gets better.
My pastor has this awesome two-word saying: “But God!” Amen to that, pastor Eddie. Friends, God had to get deep inside my heart and dig out all of the lies and foolishness Satan had sown into the soil of my spirit. He ripped the weeds out, turned the soil over, tilled and added his special blend of fertilizer. It was hard for me to learn to accept God’s promises without physically seeing proof of his work in my life. My soil was hard, and the weeds were plentiful. As I continue to grow in my faith (in Jesus), God continues to show me the truth of his word and my faith is strengthened.
Now, I didn’t just go off on a tangent. We are still talking about my dreams here. We’re still applying my story to your own situation as well. You need to understand, what I’m telling you is that I was so fearful of failure, I couldn’t even imagine what success might look like on me. God had to break in and break the chains that bound me. I mean seriously, it makes no sense at all that a fiction writer has a problem envisioning his own success. But, that’s exactly where I was. Ted Dekker, James L. Rubart, Frank Peretti, Jerry B. Jenkins, Randy Alcorn, Mitch Albom – these guys are all heavy hitters in the world of Christian fiction. Satan had me believing that not only would I never belong to their circle, but that they were somehow men who put their pants on, not one leg at a time like me, but by some type of mental telepathy. God had to get into that screwed up place inside of me and rearrange a few things. He had to make me understand exactly who he is, and what he’s capable of doing.
So I revisited Michael Hyatt’s book. And you know what? My man Michael’s got it all figured out! Yeah, his advice may seem a bit overwhelming and impossible at first glance, but I looked at it this time through a different set of eyes. If I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me, then why can’t I allow myself to dream big, in his name?
So I did. For once, taking very small steps mind you, I began to dream. First, I dove into my writing by learning from my peers at Faithwriters.com. There are some absolutely amazing unknown writers using their talents to glorify the Lord. They taught me sentence structure; composition; grammar
& (oops) and punctuation. My short stories began to flow better. They grew longer. Pretty soon, 500 words weren’t such a challenge anymore.
Next, I revisited a story I’d written years ago; dusted it off; polished it up; repackaged it to glorify the Lord; and…waited. While I waited, God had me continue writing until he opened a door. Once that door opened, he told me to push that story past the threshold.
Lastly, I learned a very important rule: you don’t make a move until you pray about it first. So, before I believed in it, I forced myself to put it into practice. I began praying for direction in the smallest areas concerning my writing.
- “Lord, should I add this particular line, or say something else?”
- “Lord, how am I gonna end this section of the story?”
- “Lord, will Mitch Albom ever respond to any of my letters, visits to his radio office, emails?”
- “Lord, should I add illustrations, or just go with what you’ve given me?”
As ridiculous as some of that sounds, it began working (well…all except the Mitch Albom thing. It’s not like I’m stalking the guy. That’s my claim and I’m sticking to it). God took my little 200 page story and miraculously pushed it through all the enemy’s obstacles. The blessing of a paid publishing contract with a Christian self-publishing house; the blessing of supporting friends and fans eagerly waiting, encouraging and cheering me on; the blessing of the Lord ordering my steps and granting me peace in decisions made. He moved in my life!
So here we are, tonight. It’s May 13, 2015. Did you see that picture accompanying this blog post? Yeah, that was taken earlier today. I received 10 comp-copies of my book, “Paraclete’s Promise: The Fantastic Fantasies Of Timothy” in the mail this morning. It was a pleasant surprise receiving a text message and picture from my wife, just as I found myself climbing out of a filthy manhole, on the job. When I picked up one of the books; held it in my hand and thumbed through the pages, reading the words I’d written, reality hit me.
“I’m not just a published fiction author, but a published Christian fiction author.”
The dream realized.
A few nights ago, I wrote something to this effect: I don’t know what the Lord has in store for my future, but I’m trusting him and planning to obey. Tonight, that takes on a whole new meaning. Before I leave you for the night, I want to share something quickly. It’s something I’ve allowed myself to dream. Michael Hyatt, thank you for inspiring me, sir. This is my dream list:
- Make $100,000 a year doing what I love.
- Sell 1 million copies of “Paraclete’s Promise,” worldwide.
- Make the New York Times Best Seller list.
- LucasFilm Ltd. movie adaptation of my book.
- Book signings in New York, L.A. and London.
- See someone come to Christ with the help of my little story.
- Sign a copy of my book for Mitch Albom.
P.S. If anybody knows Mitch, tell him he needs a copy of my story for his book collection. I’m just sayin’…