By Robin W. Pearson
When the Crusader left for college I thought saying goodbye to him would kill me–it was harder than labor, eating okra, passing my college philosophy class, or even moving to New Jersey. After all, he’s our first child of seven, our first homeschool graduate, our first to flit from the nest; his transition marked the end of one era and the beginning of another, for him and for us. My family and friends cheered from the sidelines, “It’s time…” “He’s ready…” “You have other little people who need you…” “This is what you’ve been working for…,” but we worried that he wasn’t ready, that it was too soon, that he still had much to learn.
Yet, it was Hubby and I who who had more to learn. And once we grew up a little bit, Hubby and I squared our double chins, directed the Crusader to the college bookstore, stocked his mini-refrigerator with everything from microwavable mac and cheese to frozen spaghetti sauce, clipped the lamp to his bed, and bid adieu, veritably ripping off the Band-Aid without a glance at the gaping wound it covered. No, I didn’t grin, but God’s grace enabled me to bear it.
And I’m so grateful His grace is sufficient, for this experience more than prepared me to handle the sendoff of yet another first, my novel A Long Time Comin’. I birthed the idea more than fifteen years ago, when the Crusader was still on my hip; just as he has stretched and matured into a fine young man, so my novel has metamorphosed into the alluring butterfly that it is today.
Yet, it couldn’t fly because I kept it trapped in a net. I just couldn’t let it go.
Technically, I’d typed “The End” on the book’s final page, but in my head, my project was never ready. I was forever editing, tweaking, and polishing, reviewing it again and again. I balked at submitting it, taking any rejection as a sign of its “immaturity.” Here again, my editorial family and friends reassured me, “It’s time…” “Your book is ready…” “You have other ideas that need you…” “This is why you’ve written…” but it was just as hard to let this baby go as it was my two-legged one.
So…I just didn’t. I continued holding on to this virtual first child—that is until I untethered the Crusader. It was then I pictured myself trotting beside Brown Sugar astride her first two-wheeler. She’d wobbled and bobbled, and I’d feared she’d get hurt, but soon she’d righted herself and caught up to her brothers and sisters already speeding around the parking lot. Still, I’d tried to run beside her, grasping her seat, nearly knocking her off balance and tripping up myself and others in the bargain. My book, too, had an unsteady start–goodness knows my query letter and my synopsis had needed some serious hand-holding. But today, my novel is ready to roll, and if I don’t let it go, I’m going to get in its way. By continuing to “perfect it” I’m not submitting it, attending conferences, getting my pitch perfect, reading professional critiques (and yes, rejections)– effectively blocking my own efforts toward publication, tripping myself up and hindering future projects. God wants me to keep my hand to the plow; I need to trust Him to lead and guide, and even push.
Yes, learning to let go is a lesson that’s been, well, a long time coming, but if I just keep my heart open and my hands outstretched, success is well within my reach.
Author’s Note: My editorial career started 20+ years ago with Houghton Mifflin Company. Today, I write about faith, family, and freelancing on Mommy, Concentrated and in fiction like A Long Time Comin’. If you need me, find me with my lovely husband, homeschooling our seven little people, or nuzzling our poodle, Oscar.