Tuesday, March 01, 2011

What's It Worth To You?

This picture really has nothing to do with anything, but it's pretty! And we're celebrating the first of March today, right? Well, I am. A little late, but I did eventually look at the calendar and realize that in TWO WEEKS, my book will be released.
Being a published author has a lot of firsts.
The first time I get to call myself a published author. The first interview. The first endorsement. The first review. The first bad review. Oh, yeah, a lot of firsts!
These days, as the day draws closer, I find myself tearing up at the silliest things. It really is like having a baby. Some nights I'll wake up and just start thinking about stuff I have to do, hoping I haven't forgotten anything, praying that my box of books won't go down in a fiery plane crash...or I won't, since we're traveling this week. Man, that would suck, wouldn't it? God and I would have some talking to do, that's for sure!

A big first for me was seeing my name on the email that ACFW puts out each month, about that month's new releases. And there I was. The last name on the list, since my book starts with a Y. So if you didn't read the whole list, you missed me.
I used to mope over that list, read some of the blurbs and just scratch my head. I tell you, I had some attitude. Looking back, I wanted this so bad it's really a wonder God opened any doors at all.

Dreams are wonderful, but they can be dangerous.

Are you following so hard after your dream that you're neglecting to appreciate everything you do have? I have been guilty of this.
Some days my desire to be a published author was so all-consuming that it topped the list above everything else - my family, my friends, church. God.
I didn't forget about them, I just wasn't a hundred percent in the game. And when I would talk to God, our conversations went something like this: "Okay, God, seriously? Did you see that list of books? I mean, come on. You KNOW I write better than half of those people. Can you please just hurry up and answer my prayer on this one? I know you have to be tired of hearing it...I'm really tired of praying about this..." Whine. Whine. Whine.

If this is sounding at all familiar, may I gently suggest a heart-check. Immediately.
I do think now that this is a huge part of the reason it took so long for me to get published.
I wasn't ready. Not emotionally. Not spiritually.
I'm still not fully sure I'm ready now, but it looks like God does.
Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock and get a do-over for a lot of those days, times when I let people down, when I let God down. Thankfully, He's not keeping score.

And so I ask myself, what is this really worth to me? Don't get me wrong, I am living my dream and it is AWESOME, but if it all goes away tomorrow, will I be okay? Or will I shrivel into a puddle and melt away into nothingness?
I think I'll be okay. Because if I can't glorify God through my writing, then I'll do it another way.

One thing I am quickly realizing is this - this is all or nothing.
It is worth a LOT to me, to be in this position, and I am truly grateful.
But I know it's a gift. One I must respect, and honor, each time I sit at the keyboard.
I'm a slow learner. I have tried other options, but I think it's finally sinking in.
I am who I am because of Whose I am.
And that's worth more than a million books, my name on any list, bestseller or otherwise.
That is the only truth I know, and that is why I do what I do.

Before I close today, I really want to share something with you. I mentioned having weepy moments, well I had another one the other day when I received an endorsement from Don Brown. Don used to be a Navy JAG officer, so I was super nervous to ask him to read Yesterday's Tomorrow, but I finally did, and he kindly agreed.
He said a lot of nice things, but this is what meant the most to me:
...As an ex-naval officer, I am grateful that Catherine chose the Vietnam War as the exciting backdrop for this novel. In doing so, she has done a great service to hundreds of thousands of veterans who have shamefully been forgotten over the years, and has admirably brought attention to their sacrifice. I love Catherine’s easy-to-follow writing style, am proud to heartily endorse YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW, and to be counted as a fan of Catherine West.

I suddenly felt like Kristin in the following scene:

“Anytime. Oh, and Kristin…” His eyes locked with hers once more. “Don’t ever regret what you did over there. I read all your pieces. All the guys did. They pulled us through. You have no idea how many lives you touched with the words you wrote.”
For a long moment, all she could do was stare at the floor. Hot tears rose. An unbidden smile flitted across her lips as she lifted her eyes to his. “Thanks, Josh.” Whether he knew it or not, he’d given her a priceless gift.
Her time in Vietnam had just been validated.

Thank you, Don, for understanding, and seeing the heart of this book.


Julie Jarnagin said...

What a wonderful endorsement. Thanks for sharing your journey!

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

you had me tearing up.

I'm a HUGE supporter of veterans. Please tell Don I said thank you. It's because of him and others like him, I get to sit here and do what I love best.

Hugs, Ms. West. I get to say I knew before the book came out. One day I will meet you!

Maggie said...

That is a beautiful endorsement. You should be very proud of that. And I love how you said I am who I am because of Whose I am.

Lindi said...

A great endorsement, Cathy. And well deserved.
I love reading your blog--your excitement really comes through. I'm thrilled I've gotten to know you and your work. Both have been a blessing in my life.
And the countdown begins!!

Tana Adams said...

That was beautiful. His words touched me and I'm sure yours will too.

Carol said...

There's so much truth in your discovery: "I am who I am because of Whose I am." And when we know that, we can trust in his wisdom and timing. I'm happy for you that your time has come. Congratulations on YESTERDAY'S TOMORROW's coming release! (I love it's title.)

Jessica R. Patch said...

Wonderful endorsement! My dad is a Vietnam Vet, so this post meant a lot to me. I'll look forward to reading it.

Catherine West said...

Thanks, everyone! I can't wait to hear your thoughts after you've read the book.

Gina Blechman said...

Don's endorsement is beautiful, your blurb is fantastic, and I now look forward to eventually reading your book. I'm glad that you found a way to ground yourself. It reminded me, even as an unpublished writer, just how lucky I am. Best of luck. I can't wait to follow your blog and see how things unfold. (Hopefully, I won't see note of any firey plane crashes.)

<3 Gina Blechman

Heidi Willis said...

I know how utterly exciting this is for you, and I know, because it is what you've wanted and dreamed of, you will soak it all in.

God delights to give us the desires of our hearts - if your desires are aligned with His, you can be joyful when he brings them to pass. It's not just that you have chosen this to honor Him, but that HE has chosen this way for you to honor Him.

Salena Stormo - Writer said...

So excited for you! I can't wait to hear how it all turns out for you. Praying it is every thing you ever wanted! :) What an exciting time for you! :)