A Lesson in Direction

I had an epiphany the other day. I’d been busy writing my book proposal to pitch to editors and literary agents, trying to grow my platform, and figure out a way to market whatever seems to be the most marketable. I had the three chapters I needed (1st, 2nd, and last) to submit along with my finished book proposal and decided to start writing another chapter. My hope was to show the struggle that led to choosing our nomadic lifestyle, which led to deep inner healing and growth, and I would finish the book showing how, now that we are back in the States, we are facing the same struggles we faced before we left. The difference now, is we are aware of them, and have instilled practices into our daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rhythms which help us stay more connected to each other and ourselves along the way.

As I struggled through writing chapter 3, I realized how the direction the book was going was not the direction my heart was wanting to go. Chapter 3 was going to be about the summer between our “experimental” trip and when we left for our first stint. It was going to be all about how we packed, what we had to do to get ready. Our lists. I couldn’t get past the first paragraph. I wanted to vomit. There was no vulnerability, no struggle, just lists of things I would be writing about and everything inside of me rebelled against the very thought of going there even though I had a Facebook page dedicated to that very topic that was growing exponentially in likes and followers. My heart was not in it, yet my fear of loosing those likes and followers seemed greater, which told me something was not right.

As I was writing that chapter, I found the book becoming a documentary on our travels, not a vulnerable tale of what was going on deep within my heart, which is really where my heart is. So, here I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, which led me to take a week off of writing. It was time for some deep soul searching and prayer.

Thursday evening of that week I decided I would write. Not for any audience, but for myself. I thought of one of the moments in our two years abroad that made one of the largest impacts upon my soul and I decided to tell the story back…to myself. It was an extremely vulnerable story, so much so, I wept as I wrote. The feelings and emotions of those moments placed me back in the scene as the events unfolded one letter at a time on the computer screen.

When I was done, I wondered what was different about what I had just done. It was so easy to write that meaningful story compared to the struggle and nausea I was feeling trying to write chapter 3 of my book. This is when it dawned on me. The difference was, when I write about what I care about, it flows like a river out of my deepest self. My heart and soul spill their contents quicker than my fingers can type them out. I become wrapped up in a world of emotions and feelings and the words I put on paper end up the gentle exhale of my soul.

Someday I hope to figure out a way to put together the book proposal I set out to write in a way that mirrors what I care about. But for now, I realize there are more steps I need to take before getting to the point where that story is ready to be told. I need to process, write, and feel the stories that impacted me while we were traveling before I can share them with the world in a way that feeds my own soul.

That being said, I have not given up on writing, I have only just set that particular piece of work aside. I am now taking the time to write what I know feeds my soul, which right now, means a journal where I have combined poetry and photography to bring beauty and awaken the imagination. My heart is to create space for my reader to be able to think deeply, breath freely, and engage the soft whisperings of their own souls. That is where this journal comes in. It is my first step toward bringing a tool to my reader that will help them in their own process and growth.


Author: Jennie.Denney

Jennie lives in Southern California with her husband and four children. She loves to travel, write poetry, and be by the water. She received a certificate of the Bible through Torchbearers Bible School, attended Hope International University for her undergrad, received a certificate in Spiritual Formation through the Apprentice Experience at Friends University, and a Masters degree in Pastoral Studies. She has written Soul Cries: A Book of Poems, Soul Cries: A Journal, and her newest book is Shaping the Soul: An Artist Collective. She owns and manages www.jenniedenney.com, where she writes a weekly blog with stories, practices, and lessons she is learning, to help her readers know they are not alone in their own becoming and encouraging them to connect with God. Follow her on IG @jennie.denney and Pinterest @jenniferpdenney.

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