December 29, 2008

Year End Report

I do a little bookkeeping, both professionally and as a volunteer for my local ACFW chapter. In accountant's terms, the final bottom line for the year tells you where you're at, leaving little to debate.

The bottom line on my personal "P&L" for 2008 aint lookin so good.

It's been a great, rough year for me. I've learned a lot, and unfortunately, a lot of what I learned came in typical Camille form: The Hard Way.

As a writer, I have been given much. I've received writing opportunities I hadn't dreamed of, including a scholarship to attend Mt Hermon, invitations to send a manuscript to editors, and a semi-finaling entry in a publishing contest. I've received encouragement from authors, editors, agents, and readers (ahem, thanks Mom). I've received wisdom & help from generous mentors like Mary DeMuth, Randy Ingermanson, Ane Mulligan and many, many others. I've been blessed with a tight-knit critique group that encourages me and pushes me to do better. I've met dozens writers locally, nationally & online who understand this calling and this journey, and who graciously sharpen and cheer one another on as artists and as business professionals. Like winning the lottery, it seemed all this was just handed over to me unearned. What's the catch?

Balance has never been high on my list of strengths. Okay, it's not even ON the list. Imbalance is acceptable when a little off-beat humor is in order, but it tends to be hard on relationships. It can be a relationship killer, actually. For me, with the blessing of writer's groups and new friends and opportunities and newfound craft sharpening tools came a new obsession with all things writing. And when I say obsession, I mean in true Camille form. ALL OR NOTHIN. Which means that over this past year, I have neglected some critical things in my life: my husband, my kids, and my Lord. And the fruit of this folly has become painfully ripe.

This year, as a Wife, Mom & Child of God, I've learned some things, as previously mentioned, The Hard Way. Sorry if getting personal makes you squirm, but if my purpose in life is to communicate, then what I say must be true, though I'll do my best to say it in a way that stings me more than it does you. (Hey, I made a rhyme. Who knew.)

While focused on finishing a novel this year, I pulled away from ministry, functions, friends. I've put spending time on writing/researching/networking over spending time with my husband and kids. I've learned that after doing this for a while, lines of communication break down and walls begin to form. I've also neglected time with the Lord, time in his word and in prayer, and it shows. I've done and said things I shouldn't have, not done and said things I should have, unintentionally hurting people I love, borne out of thoughtlessness or selfishness. That really sucks. Or stinks, more accurately. Like rotting flesh.

I've made some poor decisions this year, some either as a direct or indirect result of the way I've spent my time. But those writing blessings, answered prayers, and opportunities have made it clear to me that the Lord is behind this writing gig. What was He thinking giving this to me? Why would He give such things to someone who can't handle it? It's like dropping a lottery windfall on a spendaholic. Was this a test? If so, I flunked big time.

But this is the way Camille learns life lessons. The Hard Way.

Following the lottery analogy, I'd say I overspent this year's allowance, find myself 'in debt' at year's end.

I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions - I don't see the point of resolving to do something just because you flip a page on your cheesy dollar store calendar. If you need to make changes, why wait until January 1st? There's no more magic in the beginning of a new month/year/century/millenneum than there is in a new day.

But since 2008's bottom line is the starting point for 2009, I can see the red, see where I'm out of balance, see where changes need to be made. I would like to write another novel this year, but I would like to do this with balance, with my family's blessing, and with the Lord's help. This means making some major changes in the way I roll, but I know now that these changes were needed all along. The blessings of this last year put me in a place that forced me to see that I cannot continue to spread myself thin any longer, giving less than my best to those I love most, tossing crumbs and lip-service to God and to my family.

I'm thankful for what God has given and shown me. I'm also very grateful for the grace and forgiveness shown me. And most of all, I am blessed beyond measure by my wonderful family. Dan: thank you your patience, forgiveness, encouragement, support, your sacrifices for your family, your purposeful, steadfast faith---for everything.

Dan, Shane, Ben and Janae, Mom and Dad: I'm sorry I haven't been there. I love you.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honesty, Camille. I think we all know the struggle. I suspect God (and your family) are not as hard on you as you are on yourself, though I won't discourage you from taking any lesson the Lord has for you to heart.

Diane Viere said...

Beautifully honest.

You write of a struggle that touches my own heart.

I, too, find myself out of balance at the end of this year. I so agree with your thoughts on resolutions...and waiting for the New Year...we can begin our NEW year of new behaviors and focus....any day of the year!

I just finished that argument with myself a week ago! Feeling like I was spiritually starving (oh the irony that I spend hours each day building a ministry....and yet, couldn't find the time to meet with the Man Himself!~)....I bought Sparkling Gems from the Greek (by Rick Renner) and began a new habit of starting the morning with a devotional and prayer. Rather than waiting for January 1 (the beginning of the book), I began on December 14th!

Baby steps to balance.

Our heart always knows first when we are out of balance.

Great post!

Diane

Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, that's awesome that you figured this all out. The hard way. LOL
It's definitely hard to balance stuff. I've struggled with it to and now I try to write when it doesn't inconvenience anyone else in my family.
I hear you.
You mentioned that you missed out on some ministry stuff, but in a way, there's a good chance that the book you've written will minister to others. :-)

Lynette Sowell said...

Oh, I can completely relate to this. I will strive for more balance, fo sure...starting last week! :)

Anonymous said...

Dudette, don't be so hard on yourself.

This is very much part of the journey of learning and growth.

God first, family second and then reality is you have to give up a lot to write. It is a sacrifice.

I loved your comments on lasagna not coming from a box and the duct tape.

Praying for a successful and productive 2009 for you.

Southern-fried Fiction said...

Camille, you're easy to help - you learn fast, retain what you learn and you're a good writer. It's up to God when you publish, but you're on your way. :)

Camille Eide said...

Thanks for the nods of support everyone. Change is not easy. I'm reminded of when I was first saved and despaired of ever cleaning up my foul mouth. Those cuss words just popped out on their own and I thought I'd never be able to change. The Lord encouraged me to just focus on it one day at a time, when I slip to repent, forgive myself, and move on. After about a month of one days, I looked back and realized I hadn't cussed in quite a while. The Lord is patient, forgiving, and an ever present help in time of need.

Ane, gee, you made my day! I'm not sure when you've ever read anything of mine, but I won't argue with someone as brilliant and intuitive as yourself. :)

ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF. . . .

RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

I've published five novels and 2 novellas (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have six (going on seven) grandkiddos. Decent trade, really.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

MY ROOTS:
I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.