A story without a jacket – a picture book without pictures.
Stored in a file on my desk are two stories. This file is over 22 years old.
I’ve pulled it out twice and shared it others.
22 years ago, an editor at Incentive Publications said the following: “[Where the Wild Winds Blow] contains a beautiful idea, and the quality of your writing is excellent. We found the story to be even more charming on reading it a second time. Unfortunately, delightful as your work is, we do not publish works of this nature.”
I had mistakenly researched publishers in trade market (school books). Rejected, I filed these stories away. We moved, I had 4 more sons and life was very busy.
Never once did I pull those stories out to read with my children. We read “Run Away Bunny,” “The Brave Cowboy,” “Wait ‘Till the Moon is Full” and bookshelves full of bedtime books, afternoon books, standing-on-your-head books, children’s books.
But my stories, they didn’t have a publishing house to live in. Just a file in a desk. Until my book had a nice publishing house, well, it just wasn’t good enough. I was scared my children, my audience would think it wasn’t good enough if it wasn’t all dressed up in a jacket.
Maybe I was just scared, deep inside, what it would mean to this dream inside me, if this group of book lovers rejected my stories.
One day, though, I placed my dream in the hands of my Father.
Then, for my 45th birthday, I pulled out this file on my desk, and prayed. Prayed that God would find this book a house, dress it in a jacket. I researched again. I bought the Children’s Writer’s Market and sent out 50 letters. My aunt helped me address the envelopes.
And a response came, 6 months later.
“We love it. Send us everything you have,” wrote the editor at Tricycle Press.
Wow! It was a priceless moment, a priceless day. Yes, I danced on graceless feet. I danced joy and praise to God. I sent everything I had. Eight months later, I called to follow up. Tricycle Press was in transition. Random House had just bought them. Project reviews would start soon.
Six months later, I learned my file would remain homeless, just a file tucked away in a desk. They were no longer interested: wind was just too difficult to illustrate, they explained.
“My dreams are just shadows of God’s plans for my life” (Blue Cotton Memory)
A year before I received that final rejection, I had started Blue Cotton Memory. Maybe, just maybe, if the little file in my desk had ever been dressed up with a jacket – just maybe, I would never have started Blue Cotton Memory – maybe I would never would have placed this dream in The Father’s hands, this dream that had been a part of my marrow since I was a 6-year-old little girl trying to sell my father a book I wrote for 5 cents. He wouldn’t give me 5 cents for my book.
I gave every book, every word within me to the Father in between the first rejection and the second.
My dream might not be much compared to what He did for me, but for me, it was as much a part of me as my heart, my feet, my green eyes . . I had already given my husband and sons to the Father. Like the widow’s mite, this dream was all I had left to give.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart“ (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).
God gave the world His son so that I might be called His daughter – and, you know what? Because of that Christmas over 2,000 years ago, I have a Father who values my dream. It is worth something to Him. He placed it in me before I was born. He paid for that dream with His son.
I gave Him my dream, my writing – and He gave it right back to me, leading me to this Blue Cotton Place and saying, “Go, write to your children about me.”
In my journey to this blog, though, I have slighted that little jacket-less file on my desk. I regret not having the confidence to pull my story out and read it with the same excitement I did all those other favorites that still stuff my bookshelves, waiting for a new generation to read to. I regret thinking it was not good enough without that jacket.
In this giving season, where we are reminded of the Father giving us the Son, of celebration when Salvation was Born in a Manger, I want to share with you a gift God gave to me over 22 years ago, these jacket-less stories that need a home.
Throughout December, on Mondays, I will post a Christmas Devotional – and on Thursdays, I am going to practice sharing these stories. Practicing because on New Years Eve, my oldest son and his lovely wife are expecting a precious baby girl. Yes, I am going to practice sharing these among friends here before I face maybe the toughest audience I will ever have.
But I am not going to back away this next go-round. I’m going to read this to baby girl – all 3 Wild Wind stories, while I sing her Blue Cotton Songs, talk to her about the Three Graces, the Crocodile under the Bed, and the Scarlet Urn.
Don’t make the mistake I did. Maybe my dream was jacket-less – not embraced by our cultural leaders – but that didn’t mean I had to file it away. I should have read it every night with the same confidence I read all those other children’s books. Even though my dream took a different path than I anticipated, that didn’t mean I couldn’t share the fruit along the way.
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand time (Martin Luther).