Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Caterpillar's Heart

I remember how it felt when I was pregnant. The headaches, the nausea, the overwhelming exhaustion. Mostly, the stretching. Stretching physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, that my body still bears marks from. There were times when I was pregnant that all I wanted was an unlimited supply of very caffeinated Panera tea.

You know, when you're pregnant, everyone tells you, "Enjoy this time. Sleep while you can. Take advantage of your freedom." But you look down toward your feet and really can't remember the last time you could see your ankles.

If we've heard it once, we've heard it a million times. The wait in your writing life serves a purpose.

Yeah, yeah. We get it. But let's be honest... sometimes it's hard to hear when you're the one with the swollen ankles.

You know, I love caterpillars and butterflies. Until you raise and release them, you have no appreciation for how many things they must conquer. At least, I didn't. But for every hundred eggs a butterfly lays, only a handful will become butterflies. They face predators like birds, wasps, ants. They face pesticides and disease. And that's if their parents can find the right host plant. But the thing is, when you see a butterfly-- wow. There is magic in that flight.

But this post is not going to be another blog about how worth it all the work will be when you finally get that contract.

No, this post is something different.

This post is about finding beauty in the stage where you are, even if a different stage never comes.

Surely, there is beauty in the caterpillar no matter whether she eventually becomes a butterfly.

So, I want to encourage you today to see your writing as a sweet time of fellowship with God. Create just for the beauty of creating. Grow-- and let your story grow accordingly.

Publishing is like a marriage. It only amplifies what you already are and have. So don't fall prey to the false belief that a contract will be your peace. And if you already have a contract, don't fall prey to the false belief that life and writing were so much better before you made the commitment.

There is beauty, there is peace, there is ministry, there is art, and there is healing in every. single. stage of the journey.

So, fall in love with your story. Fall in love with your art. Fall in love with your God.

Then you will find beauty. Wings or not.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Mary Vee Writer said...

Ashley, this is a fantastic post! Puts the priorities were they belong. In fact, I'm going to spin off your idea in this Friday's Writer's Alley post.

Everyone is invited to join us in encouraging one another from our current place in the journey.

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Love this, Ash!!

Unknown said...

I totally loved this entry. It really spoke to my heart. I believe I'm at the chrysalis stage, waiting on God for direction, relying on Him for transformation. My impatient heart is struggling to find contentment and peace, but God says, Find your peace and rest in ME!
I have a deep, burning passion for writing, but I want more depth so my current stage of "ministry" is to worship God, sit at His feet and learn from Him. I do write, but I'm still far from where I hope to be.
Time spent in fellowship with God is never wasted time. Even if it feels you're doing little (and I have a little Martha inside that worries and frets about so many things!) and have little to show for your efforts, I know from experience that the few words that come out of that deep fellowship time with God are totally different.
A tree cannot grow tall unless it develops strong roots. The winds would topple and unroot it if it tried to go up before growing down.
Your post has reminded me of "Be still and know that I am God!" No matter where you are, you can still trust Him.
I'm also reminded of:
"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You."

Teresa Tysinger said...

I am totally in this season. I recently stepped back from the pressures of pursuit (of publication) because I yearned for that fellowship with God. I had lost focus on it when writing became a chore, a stepping stone to publication. Shouldn't work that way. So, my writing is first and foremost for God, through God, with God. Beautiful no matter what. Thanks for your words!

Robin E. Mason said...

Ashley, you're so right!! How did Paul say it? I have learned whatever circumstance (season) I'm in, to be content.

Ashley Clark said...

Mare and Laurie, thank you! <3

Ashley Clark said...

Carina, those are two of my favorite verses! God reminds me of them often, as my heart trails itself toward anxiety before my feet hit the floor each morning. :) I especially love this: "The winds would topple and unroot it if it tried to go up before growing down." Sooooooo good.

Ashley Clark said...

Teresa, I love that! And you know what? I can tell you that my most recent manuscript is the one I felt the most freedom writing, not thinking (too much-- we all think a little, don't we? :) ) about just a contract, but instead, focusing on writing as a chance to create with God. Interestingly enough, the fruit of that produced the deepest, best writing I've done to date. So, I think it's really cool how when we focus in the right places, God takes care of all the rest beyond our expectations of what we think we can accomplish. :) Thanks for coming today!

Ashley Clark said...

Yesssssss, Robin! So hard sometimes, but so true.