God has laid several dreams on my heart, just as he has undoubtedly on yours. We all have our ambitions and dreams and goals, and most of them come from God. God gives us our personalities, strengths, and interests.
This tells me that my dream of getting my poetry more widely read probably comes from God. God designed me to be a writer, and as writing is an act of communication it is only natural to want to have a readership. But does God want me to blog my poetry or to post it on Instagram or to get a full-length book published or to just focus on being in literary magazines? I need to discern God’s goals for me. Part of me wants to shoot for the stars and get as many full-length books published as possible. After all, that is the gold standard of success in the literary world. It is publish or perish. At the same time, I do not enjoy submitting my work. Rejections have never bothered me. Even as a very young writer, I understood that rejections were natural constructive criticism, and that literary magazines do not have room for every writer that submits to them so even when you have a well polished poem it might not get accepted. But the thing is I don’t enjoy submitting anymore. I don’t enjoy submitting to book contests to get a full-length book published because they cost 25 to 40 bucks a pop. And because truthfully I prefer writing chapbooks to full-length books. I do have one full length book that I would like to get published, but everything else I won’t be in chapbooks.
I usually do not enjoy submitting to literary magazines anymore because part of the process of submitting the literary magazines is searching an engine like Duotrope to find literary magazines to submit to. It used to be that that was fun because I would in the process also find literary magazines I wanted to read. But lately I browse through the literary magazines and almost none of them appeal to me. I am still reading poetry books and chapbooks voraciously, but I haven’t enjoyed a literary magazine in quite some time.
I really enjoy blogging my work, and I’ve also become pretty addicted to Instagram. But I don’t know how to build following, and although this is not a smart thing for a writer to say I am not in the business of social media marketing. I am a writer, not a businesswoman. I have no business skills whatsoever. I do Instagram because I genuinely enjoy it. And I do have some followers on my Instagram. Some are friends but most are not, which means I have built a little bit of a following. I have blog followers as well, some that follow me through WordPress and others that are email subscribers. And I appreciate every single one of you by the way!
I understand that to achieve any dream takes hard work. However, my writing is a part of me and the thing I enjoy doing most in life. So I need to find the balance between working hard to succeed, and also making sure that writing never becomes something that I see as a chore. Someone once told me, “find a thing you like to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That is how I want to feel about writing. Have I lost my drive or should I be taking another path? Are Instagram and blogging viable alternatives to traditional publishing? And of course I still have a chapbook that I’m waiting to get published. I would honestly prefer to have 10 chapbooks published rather than one full length book, even though chapbooks don’t have nearly the same circulation and clout that a full-length book does.
God gave me the desire to write poetry and to share it with the world. But how does he want me to do that? Is God’s goal for me to get a full-length book published by a publisher? Is it for me to self publish? I always dreamed of having a book published, but I don’t know if that’s the dream I should have or if that’s the dream I havd because I want the prestige. I just don’t want to die a failure, and I don’t want my writing to be forgotten. At the same time I realize that even the vast majority of people who have regular books published will fade with the passage of time.
I think the important thing is that God is pleased when I write poetry, and making sure my poetry is pleasing to God. If it is important to God that I get a full-length book published, I pray that God will tell me that and then I will do whatever I need to do. If I’m supposed to take some other path with my writing, I will do that too.
What about other dreams? I always wanted several children, but Bipolar has made it impossible for me to have another child without risking my life. Am I supposed to have more children? Should I follow that dream? I don’t know. Nothing is more important than family, but at the same time my first responsibility is to stay functional for the wonderful little girl I already have. And as time goes on I realize something. Maybe having one child is part of God’s plan for me. He has laid it on my heart to be a writer and the reality is there’s only 24 hours a day and most of my friends with anywhere from 2 to 10 or more children do not have the time or energy to write, or whatever it is they love to do.
I am not saying that women with multiple children have no life or that they are not able to pursue anything they enjoy, but to actually dedicate yourself on a professional level to a passion and give yourself the time you need to truly practice your craft and become good at it you need more free time than most women I have ever met with multiple children have. The only exception I have ever seen to that is when women put their kids in daycare full time to pursue their careers , and while I don’t mind and in fact really enjoy having a babysitter come a couple of days a week, I do not want to stick my children in daycare 40 hours a week to write. No matter how much I love writing it should always come second to family. I understand that some women need daycare centers to work because they are financially unable to stay home, but I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mother and I think it is important that I stay home. But for stay-at-home mothers like me, the more children you have the harder it is to get any time to yourself and time to really focus. I know dress makers who no longer have time to make dresses. I know artists who no longer have time to make art. I know travelers who no longer have the time or the money to explore the world, and I know writers who no longer write. I on the other hand I spend hour upon hour every week either writing, revising my writing, reading to better my writing, or publishing my writing. I use the time when my daughter is sleeping, when she’s playing by herself, those couple of days a week I have a babysitter, the time I am in the bath soaking, and evenings when the family is watching TV. If I had another baby it is likely that one of them would always be awake, that even when the kids were technically playing by themselves I would have to break up arguments and get distracted, the babysitter would become more expensive by quite a lot and I wouldn’t be able to afford to have her as much , I couldn’t take as many long baths, and it would be a lot harder to focus while the family watches TV in the evening with a baby crying or toddler getting into things. Maybe God really wants to use this gift. God has a plan for everyone’s life and maybe my original plan didn’t match with God’s. But whenever your plans don’t match up with the Lord’s, it’s important to remember that His plan for you is always better than your plans are. He knows you inside and out, and has had more dreams for you since before you were born than you could ever have for yourself.
None of this is to say that I think writing is more important than having another child (if I was able to have another child safely, I would totally give up writing time to do it), or that my friends who have had to stop following their passions are missing out. Family always reigns supreme, and should be what you love most. And these women are excellent mothers with a lot more energy than I have and they are supposed to have the number of children that they do. Maybe God’s plan for them is to mother many children and raise the next generation of good people. Maybe they will use other talents and gifts late in life, or not at all. Because those gifts were not their calling. I have been given one child to raise to be a good and loving person, but maybe it is not God’s plan for my life to have anymore. Maybe instead he wants me to focus on my writing, focus on staying functional and stable for the wonderful child I already have, and maybe give more time to the church or volunteer somewhere else. Maybe writing and raising Angelica are my callings. Angelica is a super sweet, constantly affectionate child who always wants to cuddle and who needs a lot of attention. We cuddle and snuggle for hours each day. Maybe she is supposed to have her parents to herself and not have siblings. Maybe that is better for her. God knows her and knows what she needs.
But then the question also becomes did God design me to be bipolar or is it an accident of nature? In the Bible it says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God even knows how many hairs are on our heads, and that He knit us together in the womb. I have always thought that my bipolar issues were just accidents of nature and a mistake in DNA. But the more I think about it and search scripture, scripture doesn’t seem to support that view. God made every part of me and maybe he made me bipolar because it serves some sort of purpose in my life or it will serve a purpose in someone else’s life. Maybe it was to make me draw closer to Him and lean on Him . That is hard to do when I am not doing well, but God wants us to use our weaknesses and frailties to learn to trust in and rely on Him. Everyone has a cross to bear. Our suffering is nothing in comparison with the burdens of Christ.
It is vital to remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made! God loves me and you and you are never without purpose. Sometimes you just have to do some praying and soul-searching to find out what that purpose is. That is what I will do. I will continue praying to God and listen for guidance from the Holy Spirit.