Can you remember the first time you drove down the road? You probably thought it would be so easy. I mean, everybody else was doing it, why wouldn’t you be able to do it, too? So, how many times did you about eat the steering wheel from stomping on the brakes too hard?
As many of you know I derive my main source of income from driving a semi. Talk about a challenge, here I am in this big, cumbersome mini-warehouse with these small vehicles, in too big of a hurry, darting in and out of traffic all around me. Even when I know they’re going to do something stupid I still lose all sense of reason and yell at them (I mean are they really going to be able to hear me?). Yeah, I have a few gray hairs from this occupation.
I’ve noticed some parallels in driving that relate to starting a new career. I’ll use my writing as an example, but I think this can translate to any occupation. Let me know what you think.
One thing about semi’s that people don’t realize… they have a LOT of gears used to get all that weight moving (does 13 seem like a lot of shifting?) Now, you don’t always use all 13 gears. If you’re empty, and/or starting out going downhill, you can skip the first few gears. But, if you’ve got a full load, and/or you’re starting out on an uphill grade, you need to start out in what is often referred to as ‘granny low,’ the lowest gear in your arsenal to keep from stalling the engine.
Writing is not something that I ever expected to be doing with my life. So, this is quite the career change for me. Words don’t always come easy for me. In my first job out of college I worked eight years. They threw a going away party for me when I left. The receptionist commented that the first three years I worked there didn’t count because I never said anything to anybody. I obviously needed ‘granny low’ to begin writing. I started to explain this to God when He told me to write, but then I remembered that Moses didn’t get very far with that approach, so I just picked up my pencil and started writing.
That’s right, I said I picked up my pencil to write. You see, I didn’t even have a computer at the time (what was God thinking?). Of course, having the Holy Spirit to guide me as to what to write is like having a very super high horse-power engine under the hood to get you going. I was surprised by how easily the words flowed and the story took on a life of its own. It quickly became obvious that my first book that I started was going to be a novel (I’m still working on that one).
Another thing about semi’s… you shift through the first few gears rather quickly. The higher in the range you go the longer you stay in each gear. Once God got me to writing He directed me to write a young person’s story that uses two mice to explain the true meaning of Christmas. It took a few months to write it out. After I had a trusted friend read through my hand writing to confirm it was something I should probably think about publishing, I took it to the public library to type it out. Talk about a challenge! It had been years since I had typed much of anything. Contrary to their reputation libraries are not all that quiet. Disciplined concentration was practiced to get my mission accomplished.
Writing a first draft was quite easy. Editing and re-writing are another animal all together. I printed off some copies and had others read it and give me their feedback. More trips to the library followed. Sending it off to publishers and agents is the holding pattern I’m in at the moment, I’m pretty sure the next steps will take some more time and effort to get to the end result… a book on the bookstore shelf.
In the mean time God inspired me to write a spin-off story that used the first book to help lead a wealthy businessman to Christ. By now, God also led one of my friends to give me a net-book computer as a Christmas present. Now I could type my first draft and do some editing along the way. I definitely wasn’t starting in ‘granny low’ now.
There are a LOT of blind spots in and around a semi. That’s why they take their turns so wide, it takes a bit of space to safely turn one of those rigs. Doubts arise all the time… are the trailer tires going to clear that car making a left turn here? …will the traffic stop while I make this approach backing into this driveway? Experience breeds confidence when you find yourself in these situations.
Discouragement is a battle for all writers starting out. I lost track of the times I had to push through the voices in my mind that kept saying, “Who do you think you are? Nobody cares what you have to say. Why are you wasting your time with this? Nobody’s going to read it… you’re a nobody.” Satan can be relentless at times, especially when he knows he’s going to come out on the short end of the arrangement. Sometimes I had to simply put the writing away for the day and come back to work on it later. Always, I reminded myself that it was God who told me to do this crazy scheme of writing stuff that would give Him glory. Confidence returns when you keep your eyes focused on the true purpose of your pursuit.
Another thing to keep in mind about those big-rigs on the road; they take a lot of effort and distance to stop once they get up to speed. Now that I’ve got a couple of articles published and a few people subscribed to my blog… I’m on my way!
I’ll see you later. Wade