Hi Everybody! First, a quick update:
Chrystal Evans Hurst Mastermind 2018
As a member of Chrystal Evans Hurst’s Mastermind 2018 Team for Digital Media and Branding I have been busy these past few months helping to design and create the content that you see when you go to Chrystal’s She’s Still There Instagram page or pop over to the show notes for her upcoming podcast. There is a flurry of activity taking place behind the scenes to make sure the images and words come together just right and it has been exciting working with Chrystal’s team to make it happen. Be sure to check out her YouTube show The Sister Circle and sign up for the online She’s Still There Bible Study that begins TODAY! In addition to the study you also get some cool freebies too.
Now, on to other news!
In an earlier post I mentioned that I had the privilege of meeting the author of the best-selling novel, The Shack, and I wanted to tell you more about that incredible experience. William Paul Young has done many interviews and his story is well-known. His book, which was published in 2007 has now been made into a major motion picture starring Tim McGraw, Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. There’s no need for me to re-hash what you, likely, already know or what you can easily Google, so instead, let me tell you what impressed me about Young from a writer’s perspective.
I asked W. Paul Young to talk to my students about writing and how he came to write The Shack in the first place. What struck me about Paul’s response was his apparent lack of ambition: “I just wrote it as a gift for my kids,” he said, quite matter- of-factly. He said he had no expectations or intentions when he wrote it–the exact opposite of what I see in most writers who absolutely crave the attention and approval of their audience. Not Paul Young.
If you ever get a chance to meet him, you’ll notice right away, he’s an easy-going guy. His words and manner flow freely. He greets everyone with a warm hug and a smile– as if he’s known you all along! “My wife’s name is Kim, so I’ll never forget your name” he said to me when we met and I was pleasantly surprised by his friendliness. I was embarrassed to escort him through our antiquated building with its creaky stairs and musty, basement classroom. I tried, in vain, to apologize for the less than stellar accommodations where he would be addressing our students, but he waved away my self-pity, shoved his hands into his jeans pockets and proceeded to share his story with the students. He cared not one bit about the chipped paint or the tattered seats, but cared immediately for each upturned face, each student who listened intently. Leaning casually on the teacher’s desk, he spoke from the heart and told the secret to his success–yet, the secret might surprise you!
Paul says when he wrote The Shack he had no intention of publishing it beyond the 15 copies he made at the Office Depot because his wife had asked him to write something for the kids– to put down on paper all that was going on in his head. She had no idea the finished product would be a 250pg. novel! And Paul had no idea it would impact so many people’s lives. He says it was through the story that he worked out his own questions about God and found peace. At the age of 50, for the first time in his life, William Paul Young says he finally obtained ten crucial elements that allowed him perfect peace:
identity, worth, value, meaning, purpose,
destiny, significance, security, community and love
which is why he was perfectly content with his job as a janitor scrubbing toilets and had no burning desire to sell his book–nor did he have any inkling that it might one day be a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie! All of that happened because of a bigger plan that was operating outside of Paul’s control.
As a writer, he just worked out his questions through the fictional, yet “true,” story and allowed God to handle the rest.
I know. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Yet, the lesson for me—and all the other writers out there—is who are you before you sit down to write?
Paul says he was completely fulfilled, happy and at peace working three jobs before he ever published a single copy of The Shack! So, if our whole identity is wrapped up in our profession, in our craft, in our possessions—in anything that is outside of us—will we ever find that perfect peace that Paul described? It seems that his success with The Shack flowed naturally from his own place of peace rather than from any striving or effort on his part, and I realize that was the secret to his success—securing success before his success. For him it meant finding the answers to his questions about God and settling into a loving relationship with his God, family and community as a result. Then, when he sat down to write, it all began to come together.
Paul told us that people often say they want God to “use” them, but God has no need to “use” us. Instead, God invites us to be a part of something, to join Him, if we will, to take part in His divine plan. The work and the striving that we do suggests so much effort on our part, but when we rest and wait to see how we can join in with God’s plan that’s already in place, there’s such an ease and freedom that follows, an ease that W. Paul Young exudes and that, apparently, has manifested in all his successes.
Paul’s talk has made me think differently about my own striving towards success as a writer. Perhaps my focus should be less on where my work will go, who will read it, where or whether it will ever be published. Instead, I may just need to write and see what happens. There may be a plan in place for my writing that I know nothing about! The same is true for you–in whatever area you hope to be successful in. Why don’t we wait and see? 🙂