I love Christmas-themed fiction. Doesn’t matter the length–novels, novellas, short stories. And in the past couple of years I’ve been wondering if I could write some kind of a Christmas story. I didn’t know what, exactly. I didn’t have a specific idea. But when I heard about the Guideposts A Cup of Christmas Cheer project back in March I started thinking.
There would be two volumes of the book–one with contemporary short stories, one with historical short stories–all with Christmas settings and themes. You’d think I’d immediately settle on a historical idea, but for some reason it was a set of contemporary characters that have been flitting around my mind for five or so years that jumped to the forefront. Was there a Christmas story in there? And if so, could I write it in less than 10,000 words?
I wasn’t sure of the answer of either question, but I dove in anyway and ended up with a rough draft which I sheepishly gave my critique group. They returned the pages a few days later with their suggested changes and I had every intention of getting to those revisions and sending the submission well before the deadline. Well, the Friday before the Monday deadline, to be exact. Except something happened. Life interfered.
My aunt fell and was taken to the ER. My parents, who were on a trip out west, asked me to run up to the hospital and check on my her. What I thought would be a quick trip to take her back to the facility where she lives turned into a three day ordeal, transferred from one hospital to another, from the ER to ICU to a regular room over a brain bleed from the fall. All thoughts of my Christmas short story fled as I sat with her, talked to doctors, and gradually wilted due to lack of sleep and scarfing down unhealthy food.
Because you see, every other adult in my family was out of town. Seriously. My parents were out west. My sister and her family were driving to Colorado. My brother and his family were driving home from Colorado. My other sister and her family live overseas. And even my husband was out of town on business through that weekend–a very rare occurrence. I was the only one there to be with my aunt, and given her memory issues, she needed someone with her at all times.
I arrived back home on Sunday, exhausted. Less than twenty-four hours until the deadline for the story’s submission. I decided I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. But when I woke up Monday morning, something niggled at me. My critique partners had spent their time giving me feedback. I should at least be able to tell them it wasn’t for naught. So I revised and emailed the story to my agent on the morning of the deadline.
He emailed back almost immediately. He was on vacation. Had been only checking email sporadically. Just happened to see mine right then. He sent it to an assistant to submit.
The “almost” not finishing the story and the “almost” not getting it submitted in time struck me as odd, but I figured it was simply a good exercise in persistence. I didn’t expect much else. Until I got the email saying my story had been accepted. Then all of a sudden the events took on more clarity. It was as if the Lord had spoken quite clearly: “See? Nothing can thwart My purposes. If I want something you write to be published, no weekend in the hospital or agent on vacation can stop that from happening.”
And I don’t know about you, but knowing God is in control is a very comforting and freeing thing.
Want to read “A Bloom in Winter” for yourself? Here is the link to buy the two volume gift book set (they are hardcover books that are the size of a general market paperback book–perfect for gift giving): http://www.shopguideposts.org/christmascheerblog
Or you can read more about this story and others on the A Cup of Christmas Cheer blog: http://cupofchristmascheer.wordpress.com