You Broke ALL the Rules!
A few years ago, before I was ‘a writer’, our loving heavenly Father placed me in a succession of front row seats so I couldn’t help but be an eyewitness to Him in action. Dozens of times. Especially when I adjusted my schedule for His. When I realized how often He was placing me in His front row, how invariably intricate were the details, and how easy it would be to forget, He compelled me to keep a record of what He showed me.
…remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders… [Psalms 105:5]
Asking God for inspiration (in-spirit), out flowed a few stories that I would enjoy reminiscing over in time to come. The stories combined the facts and details with maybe a partial dose of my own mischievousness. Never one to pay overly much attention to protocols of the Queen’s English, I sprinkled around a few passages of Scripture for penance. Should one not like the story, at least the reader was fed some of God’s Word!
…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. [Matthew 4:4]
For fun, I showed a few stories to two or three God-fearing friends. One, for example, was an occasional ‘pen pal’ I have never met. She gushed over, and then shared the stories with her daughter, a college literature major. The daughter showed them to a classmate who showed them to her professor. ‘WHO wrote these?’ the professor demanded. The consensus was clear – the stories should be published!
…in the multitude of counselors plans are established… [Proverbs 15:22]
Being a ‘published writer’ was never my intent. In fact, it never occurred to me. We are talking about someone who spent his entire life staying as far as possible from English teacher types. And their offspring. Math class: ‘ok’; modern lit: ‘No Way!’ I even chose a profession that paid the bills without the benefit of university level English. But I needed to get the friends off my back! I needed to attend a ‘writers convention’.
So I forced open some time to allow me to be away from my busy business, At the last minute, right before jumping into my vehicle to drive 6 hours to the conference, I read the brochure one last time - ‘IF YOU WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO REGISTER, YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND THE SEMINARS YOU HOPE FOR; SEATING IS VERY LIMITED!’ So I called the 800 number and signed up for some seminars and workshops…whatever was left over. No sense sweating all the advanced planning…I figured God would put me in whatever courses He wanted. Needless to say, that ’30 Rules for Writing Successful Short Stories’ workshop thing was His idea, not mine!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths… [Proverbs 3:5-6]
The only seat remaining by the time I arrived for ’30 Rules…’was in the front row…hmmm. Not my idea of a good time. Or a good seat! Nonetheless, I paid attention - something about subjects or predicates. Complete sentences. Avoiding alliteration always. That the end of a sentence is a bad place to put a preposition at. Not using slang and stuff, and all like that. And not starting sentences with conjunctions…
As it turned out, the silly computer had scheduled me for a one-on-one consultation with an unnamed publisher’s rep immediately after ’30 Rules…’ When I arrived at the place where I was to meet him…whoa - not good news…it was the same man…the one with all the rules!
I told him ‘some friends told me I should attend’. That I was a ‘barely-literate engineer-architect’. As I handed him a few loose 8 ½ by 11’s, I matter-of-factly told him - ‘these will blow you away.’
I watched as he thoughtfully read the stories. His face told me he was moved! He finished the stories and carefully put down the papers. Then laughed! Out loud!
He struggled with what he would say next. ‘You broke ALL the rules’ he said carefully as he slowly shook his head. Then he squinched his face and quickly added – ‘I LOVE it!!’ With enthusiasm!
He became my first publisher.
On the spot!
A gift for writing? Ha! At least not according to any of the usual test scores! I don’t think about it much either. Whether there is a ‘gift’ or isn’t, I have no control, But I do have control of whether or not I am willing to adjust my own preconceived and presumably important schedule…for our loving heavenly Father. And whether or not I pay attention when He puts me in the front row! And willing to remember and pass along what I see!
But by the grace of God I am what I am:
and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain… [1 Corinthians 15:10]
© 2011 - S.T.Mann, This story is offered under Creative Commons license; it is permissible to use the story as long as an attribution bio is included.