Monday, 12 September 2011
Brave Little Flame
I've always been a bookworm. I thrive on the adrenaline rush a good story give me, and how I can be reduced to tears one moment and begin cheering when I turn the page. I enjoy daydreaming new events for characters I grow to love. After finishing a great novel one evening when I was very young, I sensed a clear question deep in my spirit, prompting me, Why don't you give it a go?
Immediately, I knew I wanted to do that more than anything. My kitchen stove has old fashioned gas jets for its hot plates, which we need to ignite with matches. With a powerful sounding WHOOSH, a beautiful ring of flame shoots up. That was the same effect this question had on my spirit. I quietly responded, Yes, I will, and felt that I was being obedient to God's prompting.
For year after year, that's exactly what I've tried to do. A novelist or author is what I'd tell school teachers I wanted to be. Now I have seven fiction titles circulating out there. Like the Olympic Torch, that flame kept burning strong. But recently, I noticed it beginning to dwindle. Trying to fan it back, I identified several extinguishers.
Financial hardship is a big one, especially as my husband studies, we struggle to make ends meet and I wonder whether I ought to cave in, place my homeschooled children in 'the system' and seek a 'proper' job - meaning one with a steady income. That one is like throwing a damp towel on my flame.
Indifference I face is another extinguisher. A small part of my fire dies whenever booksellers remain aloof or seem to snub me, whenever family or friends disappoint me by giving me the NOT INTERESTED message, whenever I find that people aren't leaving comments on my blog or even bothering to click LIKE when I've placed a link, announcement or review on Face Book. That one feels like dry ash being shoveled right over my flame.
Perhaps the biggest deterrent of all is the undesirable change I perceive in my attitude and personality. I become this praise-junkie, approval seeking, self-promoting bundle of raw nerves who feels uncomfortable every time I try to thrust myself into the spotlight, but understand that this is the way the world dictates it needs to be done if I'm to get anywhere. This is the blast that almost killed my flame; like a harsh jet of icy-cold foam.
I felt that if I have to make myself an unauthentic person who needs to thrive on pride and ambition to get my name known, I'd be far better off dousing the dream. It just didn't seem worth the price I had to pay. I began considering other paths instead. Therapist of some sort, dietician, pastor, masseuse? They all sound like good, helpful possibilities but I have no heart to pursue them for one simple reason. I never sense that same convincing voice, urging me, Why don't you give this a go?
I can't deny that my little flame is still burning steadily. Sometimes it shoots up through the piles of ash and debris and ignites the hot plate in my heart. An analogy between the great outdoors and human nature may occur to me, and the voice will whisper, Write that down, record the beauty. A throw-away remark on the News may fill me with the thought, You could easily get into the head of a character like that. Some hilarious irony may set me off laughing, and the voice is back again, telling me, That'll make a good blog post.
So while the brave little flame continues to burn, I continue to honour it. I know the gentle voice which whispers these things to my heart is good and worth heeding. Whenever I do obey the promptings, I enjoy myself tremendously, like putting all this into words for this blog post. I guess you haven't heard the last of me after all.
Paula Vince is a homeschooling mother and award-winning author of fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia with her husband and three children. She keeps a wise and witty blog, It Just Occurred to Me, which aims to refresh readers with optimism and encouragement. If you'd like to check out her published fiction novels, please visit her website.