It only took ten years (yes, literally ten years) to finish, but this week I finally submitted my novel, Many Sparrows, for publication. I have to say, I am pleased. Ok, that is an understatement. I am THRILLED, CARTWHEELING, ECSTATIC. While recognizing there is a lot more work, perseverance, prayer, and patience required to try to have the book published, I have to just take a moment and celebrate the fact that one of the major creative undertakings of my life thus far has been accomplished.
That might not sound like such a big deal to all you super ambitious and overachieving folks, but to this sometimes meandering, seven-year-old Christian and distracted mother of two, it means something. The whole thing is akin to having had a natural birth with my second daughter. When it was all said and done and I was holding Joey in my arms, I honestly couldn't believe that I'd done it without an epidural. I remember looking at my husband, grinning, and making the rather out-of-place pronouncement, "I freaking did it." I look back on that now and laugh aloud, but it's precisely how I feel in this moment. I know natural labor is the norm for most women on this earth, just like I know there are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people who have written novels, but for this lady who often has a problem finishing what she starts, I'm in shock that there is a completed manuscript on my desk and query letters in the mail. In both cases, the birth of my daughter and the birth of my novel, I did not naturally have the resolve or capability to finish what I'd set out to do. Through prayer and prayer and more prayer and my family's support, the Lord empowered, sustained, and walked the rutted road with me. Praise God for His patience, provision, and steadfastness!
As I've written this story, it's changed along with me. Two drafts and two years into its crafting, I was born-again and scrapped the entire project, re-writing it entirely with a new focus, heart, and point. It's been a constant companion from singledom to marriage, childlessness to a full house, unbelief to belief, the West Coast to the East to the South and back. It's changed names, characters, plots, and purposes, and here it is--static and done at long last. I sound awfully sentimental, but the truth is I am relieved. It's been too many years, and I'm ready for a new story.
I have no idea if Many Sparrows will ever be published. I have no idea if I have what it takes to be a Christian novelist, or if I can write a book that anyone other than my mom would want to read. But I've loved the process and am thankful for everything I've learned about using spiritual gifts and submitting abilities to the Father's will, about storytelling, about my grandmother (upon whose life the novel is loosely based), about perseverance and priorities, and about God's grace and concern for the big and the small things that need doing.
In case you're curious, here's a brief summary of the novel. Lord willing, I'll one day send you bound and published copies!
Many Sparrows is a God’s-Eye-View of how the Father relentlessly pursues His children and draws them to Himself, patiently wooing them over lifetimes. Set in turn-of-the-century Montana and pre-WWII British Hong Kong, it is a story of how some accept God’s free gift of grace, while others reject it, of how the Lord rescues us from ashes and makes us new, and how He sovereignly and masterfully weaves together our lives with others’—permitting suffering, healing heartbreak, and sparking joy. Will a life that began in tragedy end in hope and redemption, or will Margaret Gerhardt never come to know the full truth of her past and God’s goodness? The Lord came to save that which is lost; it is never too late to be found.