Next Steps…

Focused, hard work is the real key to success. Keep your eyes on the goal, and just keep taking the next step towards completing it. If you aren’t sure which way to do something, do it both ways and see which works better.” John Carmack

There is no perfect formula for success. Even as we refine our craft, connect with peers, and forge ahead through rejection—prayer and persistence precede progress.

When you have written what’s on your mind or in your heart, there comes a time we must trust that our words will find their home. Our words may uplift a neighbor or friend. In time, those words may encourage hundreds if not thousands of other individuals. But we can never make it to these milestone moments unless we continue to push through disappointment. Failure, though daunting, can force us to grow and develop in ways we never considered previously. Those moments where we await a breakthrough are periods of preparation that can guide us to reevaluate and evolve.

Search for options to expand your craft, no matter what creative or professional outlet you pursue. There may be false starts and lulls; however, when we continuously develop the gifts within us, we walk not only in our purpose but also lay hold to the contentment most of us earnestly seek.

Life is often an arduous journey. Still, the thrill of victory is worth the many miles traveled to achieve it. As we close the first quarter of 2023, let us reflect on our expectations for the year and how we can best achieve our goals.

Keep writing, managing, building, or whatever it is you do passionately. Don’t allow your hopes for the New Year to quietly fade away. Take hold of them and take action—one determined step at a time.

The Write Stuff

As I gradually transition from one profession to another, I reflect on a sermon I recently heard, There’s Still Time. My passion for writing began decades ago. I wrote a few manuscripts here and there. The first and only submission I made via snail mail in 1997 elicited a promising reply. However, two kids in two years arrived shortly thereafter, so I never pursued it.

Years later, I tried again. A coworker introduced me to blogs. I enjoyed the blogging community as much as crafting words for years. However, my joy was overcome by loss when my mother passed away unexpectedly. I wrote about my grief, and it was therapeutic. But my passion for writing and other things was obliterated.

One thing I have learned is that God is patient. He doesn’t push us when we aren’t able. He allows time for rest and restoration. God can renew and restore hopes and dreams we leave by the wayside.

I felt a nudge in the spring to register for a conference I hadn’t thought about in years. I followed that God/gut instinct and secured one of the last available slots. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was confident I should be there.

I attended workshops, socialized with fellow writers, and received well needed feedback from noted authors. The best thing to come out of it was finding a mentor. Dr. Kathrine Hutchinson-Hayes gave me suggestions and direction that put me back in the writing game.

If you’ve given up or forgotten your passion, look again. God is a restorer. Time is negligible in His hands. Stir up your faith and dare to hope. I challenge you to start. If you’ve already begun, continue. What God places in each of us has a purpose to suit His will. We should not leave earth without fulfilling everything we were born to accomplish.

Looking for a writer’s conference?

The Atlanta Writers Conference is usually held twice a year. It taught me much about publishing. Agents and editors represent most genres but rarely Christian publishing. You can find more information about the AWC here.

The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference is the conference that renewed my hope and got me writing again. Details are available here.

Lastly, the Asheville Christian Writers Conference will be a new experience for me. It appears smaller than the BRMCWC, but it also offers hour-long sessions with agents, editors, and mentors instead of the fifteen-minute slots common at other conferences. More information is available here.

If you have writing challenges and triumphs you’d love to share, I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time, keep writing.

Creative Visions…

One of the best gifts I ever received was a camera. The fact that my mother gave it to me makes it all the more dear. Since then, my passion for photography has grown as has my collection of lenses. I am learning to view things from a different perspective, not the worst lesson to learn in life. Photography has only fueled my love for gardening and provided me with different perspectives with which to ponder things large and small.

Creative Visions by Raphael LLC was initially founded by my husband, Rod, over twenty years ago. His passion for photography developed into a love for “people photography.” As a result, he successfully photographed a fair share of weddings. I was at that time the lowly (and reluctant) assistant. Fast forward two decades and now I’m the one with camera in hand. I readily admit to a preference for subjects with petals and wings that won’t complain about my work!

Creative Visions is the umbrella under which I now begin my “second career” providing freelance editorial and media services. Although photography is still my personal passion, certain prints are now available to the public for purchase.

You can find links on this site to most things “Lilka Raphael.” However, Creative Visions is the launchpad from which I seek to broaden my skills and possibly develop a few new ones. I may even share what I learn here as well. Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll see you around.

Focus on the Positive.

B Blessed!