Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Goal Line

I became a football fan in 1977 or 1978 and watched the Denver Broncos go all the way to the Super Bowl.
My middle daughter and I would yell during games until my youngest girl said, “If you’re going to carry on that way, shut the windows!”
I guess I thought I could help those players across the goal line.
My writing ministry should concentrate on goals, too. Sometimes I feel like a linebacker crunched a helmet into my belly and I’m on the turf. With experience, however, I’m learning my problem isn’t so much defense—it’s my offense.
First, am I suiting up properly in the whole armor of God with the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, Sword of the Spirit and my feet fitted with the cleats of readiness on my shoes? (Ephesians 6:11-18).
Second, am I talking to and listening to my coach? The Apostle Paul tells the Philippians he keeps straining to reach the prize, forgetting what is behind and pressing toward the mark. He’s talking about knowing God and attaining eternal life—but there is an underlying theme of ministry, too.
Third, am I looking at the “field” and using the tools available to reach the goal?
Basic is defining the goal. Am I planting, watering and picking beans or wheat? Different methods are needed for each harvest field. With my teen novel, the “Work in Progress,” a linebacker-sized problem stopped me and I lost yardage. I assumed it was a Young Adult novel, where it’s OK to have 85,000 words. The agent who is interested in my book proposal, however, says it’s “middle grade” genre and although I’ve cut 15,000 words, it needs to be 50,000.
Studying markets more might have prevented turning the field over to defense.
This year I intend to use strategy for other writing projects. I will study more Christian magazines, the Christian Writers Market Guide, look at more publishers’ websites. I’m already an avid book reader.
If I were a poet, I’d look at greeting cards, study their poems, look at poetry markets, contact them for guidelines, and send poems. (You never reach the goal unless you catch the ball and take the first step.)
But I need to look at what is in my hand. That’s what God told Moses when the Patriarch went before Pharaoh. Moses had a shepherd’s staff that God used dramatically to bring the Israelites to their goal . I have my teen novel, two non-fiction books almost ready for publication, and ideas and several articles on the bench.
Next, I’ll need to take the shortest route to the goal: Start with good ideas that fit the market; write with clarity; use facts, senses, illustrations, emotion, color, humor; construct concise active sentences that sing when read aloud; rewrite and edit.
Finally, I’ll participate in a critique group. Then I will be ready for the referee’s whistle and the handoff of the ball. Perhaps I’ll have winners!
You can win, too, at whatever God has called you to do when follow the play book, listen to the Coach, put on the uniform, and put your energy into winning the Ultimate Prize: Hearing Jesus say, well done!