Washed Up or Starting Fresh?

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By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer

Fifteen years ago I took my greenhorn self to a California writers conference, where I met with a well-known author for a “one-on-one.” It was the equivalent of a preschooler sitting down with a Ph.D. professor for a career pep-talk.

What do you write?” the author asked.

I was a newbie in the fiction arena with no sense of direction about what genre I wanted to write. I’d been a journalist. I’d covered everything from my local community’s largest pumpkin, monthly school board meetings, and the annual 4-H livestock sale to fatal vehicle accidents, bank robberies, and the Columbine school shooting. I’d won awards, including one for a feature story in the Prorodeo Sports news, and I’d sold inspirational material to several Christian publications. I knew how to tell a story, but wanted to start telling my own.

However, when someone asks you what you write, you need a clear-cut answer:

Contemporary, historical, contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, legal thrillers, high-concept, Christian, general market, children’s board books, middle-grade stories, cozy mysteries, suspense, horror, sci-fi, fantasy…

You get the idea.

I had three partial manuscripts with me that day: a fictionalized children’s story about a hen that crowed (because we actually had a hen that tried to crow), a 30-day devotional book for women, and a contemporary romantic-suspense novel about a gal in a beach-side bungalow who was being stalked.

Clearly, what I didn’t have was focus.

The seasoned author looked at the hen story, handed it back, and eyed me with pity. “It’s a little late. You should have started this years ago,” or something to that effect.

I picked up my folder, said thank you, and took my thick-skinned reporter’s attitude to the next workshop on the conference agenda.

That was nineteen published books ago – all fiction but one. Four contemporary, fifteen historical. My focus has tightened somewhat, and I’m glad I didn’t let that brief interview squelch my dream or leave me feeling washed up.

Of course I’m not the only traveler in this world to hit roadblocks, and such stories encourage me. I think that’s why people read fiction. They like to see realistic characters face challenges and set-backs yet press on to win.

I have heard it said that it takes scores of encouraging words to counteract one naysayer’s comment.

This truism is found countless times is memoirs and biographies. Rising to victory in the face of difficulty is an encouraging theme.

One of my favorite biographies concerns a young Royal who had a temper, killed a guy who was mistreating someone else, and ended up a fugitive on the backside of a middle-eastern desert. He probably thought his life was over, his future sealed. It was too late for him – he’d be herding sheep the rest of his life.

God had other plans for Moses.

Another cast-off named David rocked his way into a king’s palace as a musician, where he was soon dodging spears, assassination plots, and deadly jealousy. He ended up on the throne himself, and not by his own hand.

Then there’s Peter, a world-class fisherman I wouldn’t want to face in an arm-wrestling match. He changed the world with his words because God saw beyond his limitations.

Some of us have old dreams hiding deep inside. Some of us think we’ve outlived our usefulness, our purpose.

Some of us think it’s too late because we lost our job, a relationship crumbled, or the doctor gave us bad news.

But here’s the news we need to consider: God is never caught by surprise. Our sense of purpose may change, but His plan for our life never does.

What we call “too late” could be a reboot. We get to choose: washed up or starting fresh.

Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

Like Moses, David, and Peter, let’s give Him the chance to do that with our lives.


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A Mistletoe Christmas by author Davalynn SpencerDave changed his jeans for a pair that didn’t have dirt in the creases around his boots, then added a vest and a ball cap.

Ruby sat on her haunches and gave him the once-over.

“What do you think?” He turned around to face the dog.

She grunted and laid down.

So much for compliments.

As he drove out of the ranch entrance, he passed a bunch of wild sunflowers making their last stand of the season. They’d grown there every summer and fall since he was a kid and would be gone in the next few days. He backed up, put the truck in park, and with his pocket knife cut a bouquet. The sunflower-stuffed thermos didn’t look half bad.

The clock on his dash said two thirty. Perfect. He didn’t want to arrive unannounced at mealtime, but since Georgia hadn’t answered his call yesterday, he figured he’d have more luck just showing up.

“Luck has nothing to do with it, Lord, I know that. Help me get my foot out of my mouth and maybe start over with Georgia. I’d hate to mess things up so badly that I lose her altogether. That is, unless this isn’t Your plan for our lives.”

He turned onto her street and his pulse double-ticked at the sight of her white Jeep in the driveway. She was probably working, but that couldn’t be helped. He had to get this weight off his chest. If she rejected him, at least he could go on with his life as he had been. Alone. ~A Mistletoe Christmas


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4 thoughts on “Washed Up or Starting Fresh?

  1. Marjorie Hill

    Thanks so much for your encouragement. Much appreciated!

    1. davalynn

      From one writer to another, you are most welcome, Marjorie.

  2. Elaine Kiefer

    I thank God that as long as I have breath He has a purpose for me. At 72 years old, I am finishing 2 months of travel and teaching pastors and leaders in Kenya. My age and experience has caused people to listen with open hearts. God is so faithful. Thank you for all your encouraging posts. I am so glad you didn’t give up on your writing.

    1. davalynn

      Wonderful, Elaine. So happy to hear you are active in His kingdom. And you are so right – God is faithful!


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