Monday, July 4, 2011

Accidentally On Purpose

I sat across a tiny table in a bustling Starbucks with a friend of mine one evening as we critiqued each other’s writing submissions for our Writer’s Group. As there were but two of us, the comments on the samples were brief and the conversations about all things personal and heavy filled our time.

The genesis of my introduction to Sheila would seem to be as ordinary as any other to the untrained mind. Wanting to be part of a group of people who called themselves writers so I could feel more of the part was exciting to me. I perused with high hopes. I wanted a group that would feel close and friendly, like getting together with study partners in college from your favorite class. Living in the suburbs of Boston, I tried to steer away from the stuffiness of the Ivy Leaguers of Cambridge. I thought I’d found my ideal group and eagerly punched my information into the screen marked ‘Tell Us About Yourself”. I did. I told them I was a Christian writer working on my first book. No response. Well, they are busy I supposed. Maybe they didn’t get my email. I told them about myself again. Once more, I heard the hollow silence of no reply. I had told them the one thing they didn’t want to hear. I was a Christian and I was working on my first book.

After I shook loose the shackles of ‘Not Good Enough’ I searched again for another group, coming to Greater Boston Writers Group. I was a little hesitant on my first meeting to tell them about myself. I feared rejection. Too late to back out now, I told another set of blank faces that I was a Christian writing her first book and I had no idea in the world what I was doing from the perspective of knowing anything about the Publishing world. They decided I would be okay. I could stay.

After review of my second chapter one night, Sheila took offense to my references to God. She thought maybe my convictions would offend the masses. I told her it would stay. I stood my ground, not looking up from my copy of the chapter and everyone else got the hint and no one ever brought up the God thing again.

The months went on, sometimes my chapters would make the time constraints for review and sometimes they wouldn’t, but Sheila started to chat me up one night about God and why I could be so honest in my writing about myself because in some cases in my book, I am the villain and sometimes the hero. She wondered why I would choose to bleed on the pages so readily. We had a nice long conversation in the pouring rain outside our coffee shop meeting place, an offbeat hipster little joint outside Harvard Square. She then told me that life was an accident. I didn’t rebut. I decided to see where that would go.

The group has all but fallen apart, the leader took some time off from the meetings and everyone else that went seems to be on his vacation schedule, save Sheila and me. The first time we arrived to find ourselves the only attendees, we relaxed and she got into her critique of my chapter submission. We had an epic conversation about God and who He was in her life, what she thought He was and what she was learning from reading about my experiences with Him. I mostly just listened and interjected when I had a real-life experience I could share.

The last time we met, it was just my friend and I. We decided to meet closer to home since we live in adjacent towns. It was an easy commute for us and we had lots of time. I think we talked about the writing for 15 minutes, God got about an hour and a half. Instead of life being an accident we marveled at how beautifully God weaves the seemingly insignificant details of our lives into a beautiful tapestry of wonderful blessings.

Since our first meeting, Sheila has worked through some misgivings about God. I got to share my faith and do what I want to do for the rest of my life, to tell everyone about my God experience. We have both gained a very meaningful and intimate friendship. I’d like to thank the first writing group for not taking a chance on a Christian working on her first of six books.

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