There were four of us crowded around the sinks in the dormitory restroom when I said it. “I feel like a scared little girl, and God has been holding my hand the whole time.”
We arrived Tuesday, in time for dinner, Heather and me, and a handful of others, eager to settle in and get our bearings before full immersion the following day. The conference was Write-to-Publish, and I wasn’t certain I had either the right or the margin to be in attendance. Eventually realizing this was a common emotion for a-hundred-plus other unpublished writers sprawling sleepless in dorm room beds on the Wheaton campus.
But He was there, like always, faithful. And He was holding my hand.
It’s the only way to describe it. The first morning, sitting with Starbucks and Bible on a quiet bench, awake at first light with time to linger. I chose a Psalm with plenty of markings, underlined phrases, pencil heart drawn in a margin. Familiarity the very best balm for a time like this.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me (Psalm 16:7).
And He had. I remembered. I’d dreamed His counsel the night before, when He showed me how to pitch my first proposal. Two weeks earlier I’d found Cynthia Ruchti’s books in our church library, reading two, cover to cover. My first appointment with an agent, and I may as well have been meeting a friend.
By the end of day one I’d pitched two books and nearly drowned in the firehose of too much information, but I’d never been more sure of Jesus. His presence, and my need for Him.
Day two felt like two weeks, and people I met yesterday seemed like old friends. We gathered to worship, overwhelmed by the sweetest sense of the Spirit. Humility and love, and if this is what it’s like to be utterly dependent, I’ll take it. I penned my name on appointment sheets, but He’d already scheduled divine meetings over cafeteria meals and bathroom conversation. Later I’d sort through my stack of business cards and remember, fondly, stories of friends.
Friday dawned with sun and birdsong. And coffee. Every morning Heather drove the short distance to Starbucks for my latte and her hot chocolate. By day three I’d found my voice. Practiced my pitch a couple dozen times, officially and not. I came with two projects, but His leading was clear. I’d settled on one. The Covenant Story. The life-changing story of God’s covenant love through the pages of Scripture. The book of His heart, entrusted to me.
Saturday morning, we made our way to one last class. One more keynote session. By now I was maxed out and weary. Mentally exhausted. Heather and I skipped lunch and loaded her Jeep for the drive back home. I could sleep until tomorrow, but I knew it wasn’t fair to my generous driver. I did my best to stay awake and engage in post-conference conversation. Telling Heather, it’s ironic, her Fully Present to Win, a book about unplugging our families to be present to life. And here I am thinking if I’m ever going to publish a book, I’m going to need to step up my social media engagement and then some. Not at all sure I have what takes—or the desire to do it.
Voices I haven’t listened to in three long days, take advantage, vie for attention. Doubt and fatigue. Regret over appointments not made, classes I’m thinking I should have attended. Should have done this and didn’t do that. I’m on the verge of tears when I realize what’s happening, and I muster the strength for one more battle. you’re a liar, you creep. None of it’s true; He was holding my hand.
Back home I compile notes, make my list of next steps. People to thank. Friends to find on Facebook. Books by newly published authors to order on Amazon. The life story of a publisher-turned-friend to read before bed. A proposal to polish, and send out again. Still not sure what it means for me to be a writer. What it means to steward this gift He’s given. I just want to be faithful. He hears me say it, and I know I can trust Him. Because He’s the Author.
And the AUTHOR was holding my hand.