by Guest Blogger Billie Jauss
Over my life, which at this point has spanned nearly half a century, I have taken on many roles. I grew up the baby of a large, blended family. At a young age, I knew I wanted to be a nurse and fulfilled that dream when I graduated from college and landed my dream job as a critical care nurse. Then the role as wife and mother took over my full-time gig as a nurse. My hubby is a Major League Baseball coach, so for 29 seasons I have been a baseball wife. However, no role ever confused me as much as the role I find myself entering in my empty nest. A writer.
In 2005, I wrote my first devotional for Baseball Chapel, an organization that provides Christian services and Bible studies for the men and women in baseball. I wrote over ten devotions a year for many years, yet I never considered myself a writer.
I had very interesting conversations over the years relating to my writing. Once a prophetic pastor told me God wanted me to write a book. Again, a pastor told me God was calling me to write. Another woman urged me to pursue God’s calling on my life to write. I also had other people tell me, “not always are pastors prophetic,” “not everything that people ‘pray’ over me isn’t from God,” and “you know that other girl over there was told she would write a book too and that was years ago and no book.” It seemed for every positive encouragement, someone was always there with a negative one. Myself being the most negative of all. Yet, I prayed. I prayed for God’s guidance, for His lead. Write was what I heard.
In 2014, a friend whom I knew from one of the 14 cities in the US I’ve lived in, was writing a book called How to Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day. I was intrigued. I contacted her and asked a few questions. Those few questions led to me being one of her test group as she finished her book. Her book was an amazing way to walk through the process of planning, scheduling and writing a novel.
I also learned a few things, during the testing of the chapters of her book, that neither she nor I was expecting.
1. I should have listened in school when teachers were trying to teach me to write.
2. I had a lot to learn about the process of writing.
3. Writing takes a lot of time and energy that I didn’t know if I had.
4. What was I thinking when I thought I could write anything other than devotions?
5. I could start a blog and stick to writing once a week.
6. I am NOT a fiction writer.
Some of those were based on fear and some on complete realization. Either way, I continued to pursue my urging from God to write. My blog posts were semi-consistent, I began to take writing more seriously, and I signed up for my first writer’s conference. I still didn’t consider myself a writer. Yet, I prayed. I prayed for His guidance, for His lead. He led me on. Write was what I heard.
Prepping for the writer’s conference was more than I thought I could accomplish. I prayed that the Lord would show me if this was a pipe dream, an unrealistic desire to continue to write, to write a book. The book proposal finished and in hand, I attended the conference. There I was introduced to the evil ‘P’ word: platform. “How many subscribers do you have on your blog?” How many followers on Facebook and Twitter?” Followed by, “ You need to grow your platform.” “Build an audience.” “Better your writing.” There were so many new things I learned at the conference and so many negative emotions. Should I stop writing? Yet, I prayed. I prayed for God’s guidance, for His lead. He led me on. Write was what I heard. Do the next thing.
So many times in the past I had not listened and obeyed God’s calling on my life. I would write for a while then stop believing the lies that I wasn’t smart enough, valuable enough, interesting enough, talented enough to be a writer. After that conference, I felt an overwhelming pull from God. He was pulling me into the right places where I needed to be. I felt Him asking me to do the next thing. The next thing, not the entire to-do list to build my platform, not the push to get my name out, not filling pages with words that wouldn’t impact women for God. Do the next thing.
So I did. I did the next thing. One by one I did the next thing. My platform didn’t grow to record numbers. My blog posts did not go viral. My name is not on any best-selling list. I did the next thing.
I committed to posting on my blog each Monday. I have been consistent. I signed up for Compel, a monthly membership community that equips writers with the tools and skills to hone their craft and write words that move people and have bettered my writing. I signed up for my second writer’s conference and had amazing opportunities to learn from great writers. I committed to reworking my book proposal for that conference and was able to meet with agents and publishers. I did the next thing. At that conference in March, the Lord again asked me to do the next thing. Speak aloud that I am a writer. He released me to open up in a way I had not felt ready to do. I did the next thing.
I am a writer.
An agent and a publisher asked for my book proposal after meeting with them. I had heard many stories about how one is asked for a proposal and only to be met again with ‘you need to build your platform.’ I had experienced it at my first conference. I was paralyzed once I came home. Paralyzed with the fear of hearing ‘no’ once again. Yet, I prayed. I prayed for God’s guidance, for His lead. He led me on. Write was what I heard. Do the next thing.
The next thing I did . . . write. I worked on my book proposal once again. With all the knowledge gained over the past year and the week at the latest conference, I attacked it with fresh knowledge. As a confessed writer, I attacked it with fresh confidence. I did the next thing.
This new role of writing has not been one blessing after another, and it has not been without tears and fears, but I continued to do the next thing. The revised book proposal was sent to the agent and publisher with much prayer and shaking knees. I pressed the send button on an email to each of them. I heard nothing. Yet, I prayed. I prayed for God’s guidance, for His lead. He led me on. Write was what I heard. Do the next thing.
The next thing was to write. Write my blog. Boost my Facebook posts. Build my following one task at a time. I booked speaking engagements and felt encouraged by the response to the messages. Do the next thing. During all of the time of writing and blogging and speaking, life continued to happen. My baby boy playing baseball as a freshman in college, our middle son working while trying to get into medical school and failing for the second time, our oldest working and playing baseball in Germany. Another baseball season, in a city different than our permanent home; packing, moving, driving, and traveling. Life continued to happen. Do the next thing. Each day I would do the next thing.
The next thing on a Tuesday was to write, then go to another baseball game. It was the 14th in a row for the hubby’s team. After he left to go to work I checked my email. To my dismay, there was a response from the publisher. They had reviewed my proposal and wanted to move forward. My heart raced, my palms became sweaty. What do I do? A call to the hubby, a few squeals of delight and a bounce around the apartment, then an honest question of, what do I do? I had no idea. I had educated myself on a book proposal and the pitch but what do I do when a publisher wants to “move forward?” I reached out to some more seasoned writing friends and asked, what to do? Even with some very heartfelt and educated responses, my thoughts were racing faster than my heart. Yet, I prayed. I prayed for God’s guidance, for His lead. He led me on. Write was what I heard. Do the next thing.
The next thing was an email to the publisher and an email to the agent informing her of the desire of the publishing house to “move forward.” Was this really happening? It was. It is.
All because I did the next thing God asked me to do.
Do the next thing.
What is God asking you to do? Can you do the next thing, not getting lost in the big picture? You know that other woman I told you about who had been prayed over and told she was going to write a book? Yeah, she recently had over 5,000 downloads of her three published books! She just did the next thing.
I would love for you to join me on my journey by signing up to receive my monthly newsletter by visiting my website at www.billiejauss.com.