I was in my mid-thirties, had a terrific husband (of eight years), a cute house in a town not far from my hometown and family, the ability to write from home, a respected literary agent and a three book historical romantic suspense series making the rounds with the top Christian publishers in the industry. I was set. And completely convinced that I had everything I could ask for. Well, everything but the finalized book contract with a publisher, that is.
And then I went on vacation last summer. It was a good vacation. Planned at the last moment—like usual—but to generally the same location my husband and I visit every summer: a rustic cabin built by my husband’s grand-father and great-grandfather in 1948. This pine tree-surrounded cabin sits on a lake in Northern (as in WAY north) Maine. We drive up simply because my husband has the vacation time to spare, and we like to stop along the way and visit places like Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts and Moosehead Lake in Central Maine (where my third book is set).
But for some strange reason, this vacation felt different. It was our eighth summer staying there and visiting extended family who are closer to me than my own cousins, aunts and uncles... but I was getting restless. I’d heard snippets of interest from a publisher earlier that summer, and my third manuscript was a finalist in a very prestigious writing contest. I was becoming a little obsessive in my thoughts about what was EVER going to happen with these books I’d poured the last four years of my life into.
One night while staying at the cabin, my husband (being the Mainer that he is) asked to take me out for a moonlit canoe ride. We didn’t have to go far to be surrounded by the moon and a multitude of brightly shining stars. Usually, when I get to such a place all I can think about are my stories and how to make them real for readers... but this time, as we sat there silently staring at the sky I felt a question resound through me, to my heart.
What do you want more than anything, Dawn?
My quick answer:
I want my books to be published.
Does that seem like a silly answer to you? It didn’t to me. When I’d begun my first book (the one the publishers had in their hands), I’d written it for myself. Not to be published, but for something to do... because I wasn’t having babies. I’d always wanted to write a book. I just thought I’d do it after I got married (right out of college, of course—haha!), had my children, and they went off to school… much like the time-line of many of my writer-friends who are also my age.
But that night, as I sat there in that canoe, I realized I’d given up on all that. Nothing was happening. Not that I was jumping through hoops, popping pills, or getting fertility shots. I’d simply been told that there was NOTHING wrong with me. I’d spent too many years thinking, “Where are my babies?” that I just needed to stop. So I did. I pretended not to care. I forced myself into a submissive attitude, telling myself that it didn’t matter. If God wanted me to have babies, then I would have babies. If He didn’t, I wouldn’t. It was that simple.
However, my books… now there was something happening. They were SO CLOSE to publication and had gotten there relatively easily. I figured that was what I was meant to do. WRITE. And why not? There’s nothing I’ve enjoyed more than creating and writing an intensely complex love story to thrill my friends with. So yes, my answer made complete sense to me. It was what I’d come to want more than anything else.
Until I got home from vacation and couldn’t write. I had my rough draft of the third manuscript finished, but there were so many things I needed to polish and add to the end of the story before it came time to go to the ACFW conference to find out the winners of the Genesis Contest in September. There I sat with the desire to write, yet I was suddenly too exhausted to think! I thought it was the fact that we’d been gone for over two weeks, which was longer than usual... but a few weeks later I had another, very odd suspicion that it was something more than that.
My brain was in a constant fog, and I was too tired to really do anything—more tired than I’d EVER been in my entire life. And suddenly the idea of eating anything sounded disgusting?
I couldn’t fathom the truth. How could it be? It was a fact I knew all too well: Dawn couldn’t get pregnant. But slowly, cautiously, I began to really believe it. My husband took me to the grocery store that week (because I couldn’t make it on my own!) and at the end of the bread aisle I told him, “I think we need to buy a pregnancy test.”
The remembrance of the huge smile on his face when he held those two pink lines up for me to see later that evening still breaks my heart. He’d been praying and praying all those years, even after I’d given up. And suddenly, with the answer of his faithful prayers, it didn’t matter so much if my books ever got published.
And yeah, I’d thought I knew what I wanted a month before... that week when I'd been asked, and God went into action to immediately prove me wrong.
|Photo by Lauren Richwine/A Portrait of a Lady Photography|
I’m now six and a half weeks from my baby’s due date... AND I was finally blessed with a three-book contract with Whitaker House Books earlier this winter. I still want both—don’t get me wrong—but nothing compares to feeling the surprising, crazy, fierce love I have for this baby wiggling inside as it grows bigger and stronger.... Not even the joy of completing a 90K manuscript that a publisher actually finds worthy of publishing under their name.
Throughout this pregnancy, although I am quite nervous about the strange mixture of having a newborn baby and a three book contract to deal with at the same time, I can’t help but constantly think back to the two verses that I long ago picked out as the themes for my first book and how they ended up being not just for my heroine, Amaryllis Brigham, but for me too.
Ephesians 3:20 ~ “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us...”
James 1:17 ~ “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change...”