There is no intro for this post. Only greatness. (Am I being serious? No, but it sure sounds real swanky to say “There is no __ for __. Only greatness.”. You know I’m right. You know it.)
First, the seventeen things from 2017.
The six best books I read in 2017. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke – Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction edited by Tara L. Masih – Havah by Tosca Lee – The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson.
The six pieces of flash fiction I submitted for publication. The Necklace was accepted and published in this issue of Havok Magazine; the core of the story is the idea that all people are created in the image of God, and as such, we have the potential to mirror his image in all the purest ways despite the pull of our fallen nature.
Sense of Red, a dramatic piece that helped me deal with and express the boiling and red of jealousy, was rejected.
I wrote Captain-ish-ness to have lots of fun, but it ended up not being just funny to me. It was also about stress, not being what you’re supposed to be, not doing as well as you’re supposed to, and how when dreams come true, they aren’t always as shiny as you thought they’d be but that can be okay because of the people in the dream with you. And it still makes me laugh every time.
The Power of Nothing clocked in at eight drafts. Eight drafts. And we’re not talking about switching up sentence structure here and there. So many point-of-view changes, stopping and starting at so many different parts of the story, and trying to figure out if it made any sense at all. The sense it made to me was this: what we choose not to do is just as important as what we choose to do in our pursuit of doing to others as they would do to us.
In my personal opinion, Star-rise is the best flash fiction I have written to date. Gift giving, pure hearts, and true friendship are at core of this little story, and it makes me so happy whenever I think about it. Captain-ish-ness, The Power of Nothing, and Star-rise were all rejected, which was tough because I think they’re some of my best work.
Cap-tivated was the other story I submitted, and it was also rejected. As I look back at Cap-tivated, I can see that it isn’t much. At it’s best, it’s cute. At it’s worst, it’s cliched. And no matter how many times I reread it or think about it, I can’t find any sort of actual meaning to it. *shrug* Oh, well. The interesting thing is that I didn’t try to put anything into any of these stories; I found the themes and abstract ideas after I finished them, not before (or in the case of Cap-tivated, I found nothing whatsoever).
Three people and what they taught me.
My Grandma read through the entire Bible twice in 2017. Twice. TWICE. I’m doing well if I get most of the way through the Bible once in a year. Not Grandma. She went through one reading plan, but instead of patting herself on the back and putting up her feet for the rest of the year, she started in on another plan and finished that one several days before the end of the year. And another thing–Grandma doesn’t boast about anything (except maybe Grandpa’s raging good looks), so the only reason I know about it is because it came out in an offhand comment over Christmas. So three things to take away: 1) Grandma kicks reading plan butt and is more amazing than I had already presumed, 2) don’t ever be done reading the Bible, even if you’ve already read it once this year, 3) there is something incredibly noble, attractive, and godly about people who do beautiful things in secret.
This was a tough year for me, but as much of a tough year as it was for me, it was about five times tougher for my dad. He faced 8/10 same things as I did plus 8 of his own battles. It was one thing after another on nearly all fronts all. year. long for Daddy. Instead of folding up and crying in a corner (which is what I would do), he just kept moving, kept rolling with the punches, kept getting up in the morning, kept leading meetings, kept going no matter how messy or stressful or hard or all of the above things got. And he hardly ever said anything like a complaint. He exemplifies Christ-like perseverance.
There are many things that Luke says and does that have a profound impact on me, but this year, the One Thing would probably be a phrase I first heard him use on Thanksgiving break: “All things for the sake of the Gospel.” All things for the sake of the Gospel. All things for the sake of the Gospel. Including looking silly and clumsy since you can’t dance in order to make someone you don’t even know know that you value them enough to dance just to make them feel more comfortable. Including moving fourteen hours away from your closest friends and family to see Christ proclaimed somewhere where he is unknown. Including a hundred other things no one but God will ever know about. All things for the sake of the Gospel.
18 of the my goals and resolutions for 2018.
(We’ll revisit these on Penprints at the end of the year.)
- Devotions every day.*
- Write every day.*
- Finish draft five of Beasts and hand it off to betas.
- Launch newsletter (yeah, finally).
- Read 50 books.
- Read through the entire Bible (thanks, Grandma).
- Draft one new novel.
- Get through draft two of False Gods.
- Be discipled.
- Blog once a week.**
- Revisit Flickering Lights (yeah, this might turn into a novel).
- Write two letters/notes of encouragement a month.
- Discover and develop my spiritual gifts.
- Submit nine pieces for publication.
- Write two short stories (not flash fictions; short stories are longer).
- All things for the sake of the Gospel.
- Love people well. 2017 was the Year of Love in the Vague Sense (aka: no bueno). 2018 is the Year of Love in the Startlingly Specific Sense Laid Out in 1 Corinthians 13. I’ll botch this one sometimes (or a lot of times), but it isn’t a lost cause with the Holy Spirit.
- Rejoice in God. Jesus is the reason and source of all true joy, and it’s time for me to fight for my joy in him, to stop looking at the joy of my salvation as something that comes and goes but as a constant with and because of God.
* – I’m giving myself 15 “burner” days. Meaning, I have 15/365 days to miss on these things and that’s it.
** – continuing with the “burner” idea. I have 3/52 weeks to miss for the blog.
Let’s conquer 2018, kids.
What are your highlights from 2017? What do you expect from 2018? What will you make of 2018?
P.S. – If you made it to the end of this post, let me know by giving someone who inspires you a shout out in the comments. I’ll give a shout to two people–Nadine Brandes and my boss, Anne. Nadine inspires me with her words of life, and Anne inspires me with her generosity and kindness in all things.