Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keep The Candle Burning

by Catherine West.

Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to be a writer.
I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't staring out a window, thinking up fascinating characters and faraway places. I can't remember when I wrote my first real story. But I do remember the moment I discovered the difference between wanting to be a writer and knowing I was one.
It happened just yesterday you see.
To be fair, I lit the candle a long time ago. I fanned the flame of my dream {to become a published author} furiously at times, and sometimes so hard that I blew the darned thing out.
I learned the hard way that any idiot can sit down and write a book. But only clever people who actually try to learn the craft, have a chance of publication.
I certainly had a lot to learn, but I had the gumption to try. I sent off my best work to a few publishing houses, knowing that one would be calling in a few weeks. Back in the day, I held lofty visions of instant contract offers. After which would come a spot on Oprah. And we all know what happens when you get on Oprah.
Oh, yes. Funny, isn't it?
That flame got a good dousing from a giant fire hose.
I wasn't sure I could light it again.
But God had other plans. He gave me a good talking to, and next thing I knew, I was back at it, the candle burning brighter than before. I began to believe in myself.
Doors began to open. Slowly, with each piece of positive encouragement, I began to believe that perhaps...all things being equal...I might actually be onto something here.
Perhaps I really could be a writer.
And then the idea came. Popped into my head out-of-the-blue. You know the feeling, right?
You wake up, shake the cobwebs from the old noggin and say, "Wow. Where'd that come from?"
My second thought of course, was, "Who in the world would want to read a book about Vietnam?" And "Why in the world would I want to write one??!!"
But it wasn't a matter of wanting. It was a matter of knowing.
Somehow I knew this story, Luke and Kristin's story, was the story I was meant to write.
So I did.
Can you guess what happened next?
The book I had written, the book I believed I was supposed to write, the book of my heart, was not going to be published. Not any time soon.
Not only did my candle burn down to a puddle of wax, but the next one I lit got blown to Timbuktu. So did the next one. And the next.
Good thing I love candles. Actually I really like the smelly ones from Yankee Candle...but I digress.

I wondered then whether I was on the path God wanted me on. I began to question why I'd ever been given that story in the first place. I mean, seriously. Who was I to take on the subject of a female journalist covering the Vietnam War? I questioned my talent, my desire to reach publication, and on more than one occasion, I even questioned my sanity.
I went on and did other things. Wrote other stories and pushed down the niggling feeling that I'd abandoned my baby. Trouble is, I hadn't. I couldn't.
I'd take it out when nobody was looking. Sneak a read now and again and wonder why nobody else saw what I saw. I even passed it off to a few trusted friends. And they too fell in love.

The flame began to flicker and glow again, and this time, somehow I knew it would continue to burn. I cleaned up that baby until it shone, and somehow found the courage to send it out once more.
And this time it landed in the right hands. This time, I knew that I hadn't lit that candle at all.
God had. And there's no snuffing that one out.

I'm thrilled to say that this story has a happy ending. My book, Yesterday's Tomorrow, truly the book of my heart, has been accepted for publication through Oak Tara Publishers.
And I have been given the title of Author.
I know that if I hadn't persevered, kept groping in the dark, trying to find the matches, battled the elements to keep that flame going, I wouldn't be in this place of celebration.

Light the candle of your dream. Keep it burning. And if it goes out, trust God to light it again.
He will.

Catherine West writes Inspirational Romance and Women's Fiction. Her debut novel, Yesterday's Tomorrow, will be released sometime in the near future. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, or you can stop by her Website and say hello.


  1. Congratulations, Cathy! We've never met but I remember you from the ACFW loop - times you'd be discouraged & look to that group for support. God has indeed been on your side!

    I find this statement ironic: " Her debut novel, Yesterday's Tomorrow, will be released sometime in the near future." So it won't be released either yesterday or tomorrow?!! LOL I'm looking forward to learning more about this novel.

  2. Cathy, I'm thrilled for you! Your perseverance paid off. Enjoy that new title of Author. You've earned it.

  3. Cathy, it has been a long road, and I am so happy for you!

  4. What a beautiful analogy of the writing dream. I'm so happy for you. May your long wait be an inspiration to those who are still working on their craft and trying to get up the courage to send out the results. Someone said, "The only unpublishable book is the one sitting in your desk drawer."

  5. Congratulations, Cath! I'm so happy for you!!

  6. Yay, Cathy! Your perseverence paid off! Yay, God!

  7. Congratulations, Cathy. Savour every moment of your time as "New Author", you've earned it.

  8. Congratulations,Cathy, this is wonderful news!

    May God bless you as you write for Him.

  9. Congratulations! I'm so thrilled for you!!!

  10. So happy for you! What a wonderful post about your writing journey!

  11. Thank you all! And Tammy, that's too funny. I might have to use that!!

  12. I'm so glad I saw your FB post! Way to go, Cathy!

  13. Congrats Cathy! I'm so excited for you and looking forward to reading Yesterday's Tomorrow! Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey to publication :-)

  14. Congratulations, that's wonderful. And thank you so much for your encouragement, we all need to remind ourselves sometimes that it's GOD who puts these dreams on our heart, and GOD who will come through!

  15. Congratulations, Cathy. You're journey to publication is an inspiration to all other aspiring authors. Let us thank God for his faithfulness to keep us all writing even when the candle is burning low or gone out.