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Reflections and a Look Ahead

As 2018 winds down to a close and the new year fast approaches, I’ve been doing some reflecting. Some of the reflections have been backward, analyzing the things that I’ve accomplished versus the goal that I set for myself early in 2018. Other reflections are aimed at the goals I’m setting for myself for 2019.

I always seem to set high goals for myself, more than I can realistically accomplish. Perhaps it would be better to set more realistic goals. But I also believe that if one sets goals high, he or she will accomplish more than if the goals are too low. As I look back over my list of goals for 2018, I readily admit that I had some things on the list that I failed to accomplish. For a few, it wasn’t for a lack of trying; things just didn’t work out. For other things, perhaps I didn’t do everything I could to achieve them. I find, however, that I certainly did accomplish more than I would have had I set no goals at all and probably more than I would have had I set lower goals. As someone famously said, “If you aim [your arrow] at the moon, you probably won’t hit it, but you’ll get closer than if you never shot the arrow at all.”

In addition, whenever one has several on-going projects simultaneously, some of them will be completed while others are not. And I acknowledge that not all of my original goals had the same level of priority, so I don’t feel too badly about not achieving some of them. I did achieve my top priority goals, and that’s what counts to me.

As the new year approaches, I again am setting some goals for myself. Some of them will be highly ambitious; perhaps I’ll achieve some of them, I’ll come close to achieving others, and, no doubt, a few projects will end 2019 unfinished, perhaps even unstarted.  I’ll have a goal for the number of articles I want to get published, and to do that, I’ll have to set a number of manuscripts that I must submit. I’m realistic, so I know already that some of those submissions will be rejected for a variety of reasons, from poor writing to “doesn’t meet our current needs” to “we recently ran something similar.” But I also know, based on past history, that some of them will be accepted and published. A few of those might even warrant eventual payment!

Although time and space prevent my sharing all of my goals, I will “let the cat out of the bag” for a few of them, just for the voyeurs among my readers. I have several on-going projects on which I’ve been working, some of which I’ve unsuccessfully bounced off publishers and others that a prospective agent is considering. I have a commission from an editor to write an article on South Carolina’s peaches. There’s no guarantee that the final result will be accepted and published, but at least an editor asked me to do the article. I also have the following book manuscripts (with tentative titles) ready for submission:

  1. Evangelism and Eviction: Missionary Work among the Cherokees Until Removal

  2. In Camp and Combat: Religious Activities in the Confederate Armies

  3. Combat! Spiritual Lessons from Military History

  4. Preventing Spiritual Anorexia Nervosa

I’ve been writing for publication long enough to know that rejection is just part of the game. I also am encouraged by the example of other writers before me whose experiences teach that publication comes to those who not only do their best writing of which they’re capable but also those writers who persevere despite rejection. (For example, study how many times Dr. Seuss’s book And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected before a publisher took a chance on him. All of those editors no doubt now wish they had had greater foresight!)

If the good Lord should tarry His coming and grant me life for another year, maybe one or more of my aspirations for the aforementioned manuscripts will be turned into published books. Whether they are or not is in His hands. He will accomplish His will. All I know is that I must do my best in writing and marketing them. If they do not get published, are stillborn, so to speak, at least I’ll have written and tried. If one or more does live to see the light of published day, sola gloria deo!

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