What’s it like to be a writer with a day job? On healing, nursing, and words.

I brushed a clump of gray, wiry hair back from Mary’s warm forehead.

We’d been strangers at 7 a.m. that morning, when my nursing shift began. And now I was sharing her most intimate moment with her and her daughter as Mary took her last breath. I placed my stethoscope on her still chest and listened for a few moments, nodded to her daughter, offered a rote line of sympathy, then left the room…

See what happens next over at Christian Fiction Online Magazine, where I’m grateful to be writing today about being an author by night, and a nurse by day.

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My novel releases today. So what am I doing to celebrate?

I’m watching my son run.

My son runs like the wind. He pushes himself to the limit every day, practicing when he’s not feeling well, stretching when he feels strained, and pulling every last ounce of energy from the depths of his being in the final seconds of a race.

I want to live like that.

I want to write like that.

No matter what happens with this novel, I’ll know I’ve at the very least finished this race well. I’ve dug each sentence from my heart, turning and tweaking, stretching and straining, pouring over the text for years now. Yes, I’ve given it my best.

But there are more books left to edit.

More skills left to learn.

More books left to write.

More hope to pen for a weary, broken world.

So today, when my first novel releases, I am watching my son run.

I am grateful.

I am praying.

And I submit all my words, current and future, to The Author, that I may continue on in Him, and that I may finish strong and well whatever He has planned.

*****

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How do you spell relief? Thoughts on the eve of publication.

pregnant-belly2R-E-L-E-A-S-E.

That’s how I spell relief.

Lots of folks are asking, so I figured I’d talk about how I’m feeling about my book’s debut, which happens in five short days.

Of course I’m excited.

Of course I’m thrilled.

Of course I am on my knees with gratitude when I consider how many twists and turns this manuscript has taken and the years which have passed from conception to publication.

But today, I feel relieved.

The editing is done–all umpteen rounds of it.

The cold dinners, on-your-own dinners, lame dinners, and lack of dinners my family have suffered as I struggled to keep my head above the water during the months of hard work have subsided–some. (I’ve never been the best at cooking multi-course family dinners anyway. Family dinners, yes. But too often, Pop-Tarts have counted as a main course.)

Blank expressions on my face because my brain is functioning, thinking, working in a whole other dimension called Storyland rather than being present in real life have been replaced with … um … well … blank expressions. Because my brain feels is blank. I’ve got nothin’.

Fur balls (from my three goldens who are currently all blowing their coats) are being consistently swept, the lizard is getting fed, and I even wiped down a baseboard or two the other day.

I am not lamenting the process. I love the writing. I even enjoy the editing. And I never, ever take how far I’ve come for granted. Not for a second. But I am plum wore out, people. I’m not kidding when I say I feel as if I’ve been pregnant with this sucker for eight long years. The last two years of editing have felt like a constant series of Braxton Hicks, a push and pull of what to cut and what to add, what to celebrate about the publishing industry, and what to shrug off of my too-thin skin. I dream about commas and ellipses, type-os and plot outlines. I wake up nauseous thinking about a scene I forgot to add or a scene I worry I shouldn’t have left in. I’ve been waddling around with the heavy expectation that everyone in the whole entire world is going to hate my book, and on Sunday, March 2, my Amazon ratings are going to consist of thousands of little, tiny, one-star beratings.

But overall, relief for me is release. The book is what it is, the best I could do at this time in my career. All of my heart. All of my tears. And the truth is, just like a real child, the story is–and always was–in God’s hands.

The funny ridiculous thing is, just like I told my husband 15 minutes after the 22 hours of labor and emergency procedures with my first born son, I want to do it all again.

Surely this means I am a crazy person.

Lucky for me, on my desk this very moment sets the biggest 3-ring binder ever known to man. The binder holds 283 pages of my second novel, which, in its current developmental stage, thoroughly and completely and overwhelmingly sucks. I have three months to fix it. 6-8 months of edits after that. And in the spring of 2015, it’s due to emerge from the womb of literary incubation just like this one.

After that, I’ll be relieved.

And then, I’ll want to do it again.

And again.

And again.