I think I've said before that what I read elsewhere often prompts a response within. There's a reason for that: we grow and develop best in a community. That community can be your family, your church, a writer's group, or an online community. Other people hold you accountable (some without even knowing it, just by their example), they challenge you, they inspire you.
That's what's been happening lately for me. I've come across blogs and Web sites that seem to be just what I've been needing to push my creativity, to spark ideas, to show me a better way. Most of them are listed in the sidebar and I visit them nearly every day. I don't feel that I can afford to attend any writer's conferences or workshops, but some days I feel like I'm getting a mini-workshop just from comments and tips I find elsewhere. (I also find it terribly encouraging to know that there are some truly gifted writers out there who are still looking for a publisher.)
So I feel like I've begun (just begun, mind you) to have some dialogue with minds that challenge me and make me think through why I want to write and what I want to write and how I want to write it.
You see, I've wondered for a long time if there was any way that I could use my abilities for God. I think I had some grand idea of someday becoming editor of Christianity Today or something like that. That's not likely to happen, but I've come to think more and more in the last few years that whatever I do can be for God, in fact it should be for God. So even my editing of 4-H publications is for God (which reminds that I need to get back to work).
And I hope that, as I try to do this thing -- writing -- the best I can for him, he'll confirm whether or not this is in his will for me. That seems very vague and uncertain, but God doesn't often hang a banner out and tell me "Do this now." Though I will digress a moment and tell the story of how, about 3 years ago, when I was job hunting and really had no idea where I would end up, I jokingly said pretty much that very thing: "God's not likely to hang a banner out saying 'apply here.' " Except he sort of did. I got a phone call from an editor who had heard I was job hunting and so I ended up getting a job at The Daily Union. And I believe that that's where God wanted me to be for a while. And then he opened the door to the job I have now.
Sometimes I feel like I'm walking down a hallway with many doors on either side. I follow the hallway and try different doors. Some open and some don't. This is a flawed analogy, but my point is that I believe that God doesn't always tell me what door to try, but he confirms my choices in ways that I can understand. I trust that if God wants me to be a published author, he'll confirm that choice along the way. If not, I'll probably keep writing because I find it helps me think, but I can accept that publication isn't in his will.
If my thinking seems muddled, it's because I'm still walking down that hallway. "Now we see through a glass darkly... ." I'm willing to trust God for what lies at the end.