Posted tagged ‘failing’

Writer’s Conference Anxiety

May 15, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     May 15, 2018

                              

The Estes Park Christian Writer’s Conference is one day away and I’m feeling like a jittery five year old about to hug his mom and walk with shaking knees into his kindergarten class for the first day of school. What will happen? What if I have to go to the bathroom? What if I fall on the playground and skin my knee, or tip over the building blocks accidentally? What if my teacher doesn’t like me and makes me stand in the corner?

Kindergarten questions simply get redressed into grownup worries. As I head to the conference the questions cloud my mind like the halo on top of Pike’s Peak this morning. 

What if my clinic teacher tells me that my writing really sucks? What if they use literary terms that I have no clue about? What is the people there are about half a bubble off center…you know, the elevator doesn’t go to the top floor? What if I have to go to the bathroom really bad? (As you can tell, I’m a bit concerned about taking care of “my business!”) What if I get asked a question and my mind goes as blank as a stare? What if I get Gordon Ramsay for an instructor, complete with English accent and expletives? 

When you have never experienced something you begin to let your mind wander to dark places. 

I WAS accepted as one of six people in the Fiction Intensive Clinic. I had to send my book synopsis and first chapter to the clinic teacher about two months ago and the six of us that were accepted were notified at the end of April. Each of us now has the first chapter and synopsis of the others in the group. There will be some major critiquing and, hopefully, encouragement as we learn about writing tendencies and bad habits. 

I will have appointments with a few literary agents, with hopes that someone will be interested in my book enough to express desire in getting it in front of some publishers. In the midst of this is some personal pride about the story I’ve created, the characters I’ve come to love, and the value of the message that the book brings. My stomach becomes a bit queasy thinking that I’ve written four hundred pages that might get trashed. Actually, I’ve written eight hundred plus pages, because the sequel to the first book has already had its first draft finished. The third book has already been started. Through the pages of type I’ve come to love the characters like the ninth grader, Randy Bowman, and his seventh grade neighbor and friend, Ethan Thomas. It hit me a while ago that I WAS Ethan Thomas in seventh grade and I wanted to be Randy Bowman when I was a freshman. In the course of the first two books Randy helps Ethan become more than he ever thought he could be, a kid easily unseen in the midst of his school who is mentored and befriended towards the discovery of potential and value. 

And, that is also why there is anxiety about this new experience. I’m all in with the story! Like a fourteen year old who discovers his name is not on the list of players who made the basketball team, I’m trying to brace myself for the possibility of disappointment, but also hold out hope that…something just might happen!

Regardless, I believe that God has orchestrated this moment. I’m just hoping that it doesn’t sound like a harmonica in the midst of a wind ensemble!

Bad Grades Revisited…44 Years Later!

February 15, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           February 15, 2016

                              

They had become a distant memory, like an old girlfriend who you now struggle to simply remember her name.

And then I decided to begin the process to be hired as a substitute teacher! Steps one through thirty were fine, but then came the part where the Colorado Department of Education wants copies of your college transcripts…ALL your college transcripts!

When I transferred to Judson College in Elgin, Illinois in the fall semester of 1974 I was teetering of the slippery edge of academic probation. One more unimpressive quarter at Miami of Ohio University meant I would be asked to take a little vacation. A singing group from Judson visited our church one Sunday in the summer of 1974 and a week later I was applying to be a transfer student at the small American Baptist-related institution. A man named Wendell “Press” Webster saw some potential in the student from Ironton, Ohio who had complied a GPA in his first college quarter of “.533!” That’s right! I didn’t put the decimal point in the wrong place…”.533!” From there it was all uphill for the next year and a half.

Let me say that I didn’t knock the professors dead at Judson with my academic excellence, but I did do okay, and graduated after two years.

All that had become ancient history to be told again after my death! But then there was the application process!

What’s that saying? The sins of the past will always come back to haunt you. I never thought that failing Latin would come back to haunt me, but it now has. The irony in the situation is that one of the classes I’ve been asked to substitute teach in is Latin! Gous figureus!

Don’t worry! I’m being approved to substitute, but the memories of that past failure…and failing grades…is once again fresh in my mind. Sometimes we pay for our times of stupidity over and over again. My stupidity took the form of cutting classes, trying half-heartedly on important assignments, not navigating the waters correctly of English Composition 101. Things I should have known better about, but thought I could slide by.

Forty-four years later I can now laugh with just a hint of embarrassment.

My absence of excellence and mass of ignorance in those past actions brings a new sense of appreciation for the grace of God. I realize that the God I serve looks at the screw-ups and pitiful efforts of my past and says that because I follow his Son those things, those bad marks, and failing experiences have been forgotten. I no longer need to bring them up for review as I go forward.

God accepts me even though my Latin is suspect. Amazingus magnus!