The Answer to My Why [& Big News. BIG.]

Aug 27, 2013

“Why write?”

I asked myself the unanswerable question for the thousandth time. After seven years of chasing a dream, I didn’t know the answer.

On my bedroom floor, back against the wall, I wiped my eyes and took a breath. I had a decision to make. From this vantage point, I perused the prior eighteen months.

First, a run-in with cancer.

Then, three weary children needing a home.

Underneath these two unexpected impossibilities sat ongoing, day-to-day challenges: struggling teenagers. A broken church. Extended family drama. And the normal ups and downs of marriage, career and running a household of eight. My heart was spending more than I was bringing in.

Why write? 

If I couldn’t justify the expenditure, I wouldn’t do it anymore. It didn’t make sense. Each day carried enough pressure. Why add more? Why sit with my butt in a chair day after day, agonizing and birthing and second-guessing? Why bleed out in a blog post only to wake up at 4:00 am in a cold-sweat panic of writer remorse?

It’s crap! It’s all crap!

And why, why, why spend months—a year?—drafting a book proposal that I finally thought was THE ONE, only to hear from a publisher, again, that THE ONE wasn’t THEIR ONE?

I almost quit dreaming that day. The math didn’t add up. I had a life outside of writing and I needed to show up for it. Three teenagers who needed a strong mom. Three littles with gaping special needs. A husband with a booming business.

Not to mention, a house that needed cleaning. Roots that needed coloring. Houston, we have a problem.

Maybe it’s time to stop writing. Start living. 

A valid question.

Unless.

Unless the writing is part of the living. And the living is part of the writing.

Hidden within that niggling thought sat my why.

Why write? Because of how it helps me unravel life. Call it therapy or a paper cocktail, but every time I move the mess from my head to a page, I feel better. The fear and uncertainty and responsibility—it shrinks into manageable portions. God speaks in the untangling.

But that’s not all.

I write because of you. I write because of the woman who whispered, “I thought I was the only one” and the man who wrote, “You have no idea how much I needed to read this today.”

I write because I know how horrible it is to feel alone. And I want you to know you aren’t.

I didn’t quit that day, or the 357 days since. Thank God, I didn’t quit. I still ask the “why” question from time to time (this gig never gets any easier). Even so, I now know the answer.

I write for me.

I write for you.

Both to live. And to love.

It’s a good thing I kept going, found the answer to my question. On the other side of the doubt, an unexpected gift waited.

This.

MC_Crazy Family

And this.

MCushatt_Contract

And, most of all, THIS.

MC_Family

A husband who believed in my writing before I did. Children who fill my bleachers and never stop cheering.

Thursday night, these ones I love circled our dinner table as I signed my first publishing contract—a TWO BOOK contract—with Zondervan.

As for all the behemoth reasons I nearly quit writing? The cancer and children and unexpected, unpredictable, unmanageable life?

They’re the heart of my first book.

Why write or hope or run after any dream?

Because when your back is against the wall, that place might become the best story.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. —2 Corinthians 4:16-17

A heart full of thank you’s to the the Zondervan team for believing in our story. You’ve given this weary family—weary writer—wings.

98 Comments

  1. Tracy L

    Wow, this is such exciting news. I have only been following your blog for a short time but I love the way you write. How wonderful that you can now share this gift with so many others in print form. Congrats to you. You bring all of us out there who are behind you in the race a bit of hope that we too might cross the finish line.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Glad you’re here, Tracy. And thank you for the kind words. Keep running.

      Reply
    • Stacy Neuschaefer

      Congratulations from a former SCORRE participant! I scrolled down to see a video of your “happy dance,” but I didn’t see it. You should do a family one. I can’t wait to see how God uses your books in peoples lives. Simply Spill Hope!

      Reply
  2. Michael Hyatt

    Congratulations, Michele. I knew you could do it. I am so glad you didn’t quit. Your message matters. I’m glad Zondervan recognized that!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you. Hopefully you already know how much sits behind those eight little letters.

      Reply
  3. Chris Vonada

    Congrats, and glad to be a reader of our inspired writing Michele!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Chris!

      Reply
  4. Jen Weirauch

    Congratulations!! I’ve been silently following your blog for some time now, and it’s been encouraging me along the way. You deserve these book deals. Thank you for writing what you do-I’m a big fan.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, sweet Jen. I’m glad you broke the silent follow today. 🙂 Nice to see you here!

      Reply
  5. Misty Post

    Congratulations, Michele! I look forward to my purchases of your books. I am so very happy for you after following your struggle with this dream!

    Reply
  6. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    You brought tears to my eyes, my online friend! Congratulations…and I’m so glad you didn’t quit!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Such a faithful reader—and cheerleader—you are. Thank you, Linda.

      Reply
  7. Brian Scheer

    A great post and great encouragement for all of us who want to quit every once in a while. Your persistence paid off & I know there are so many people who are so proud of you and happy for you!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Couldn’t have gotten this far without ALL you do every. single. day. Thank you!

      Reply
  8. Amircar Diaz

    Congratulations, Michele. Ever since I have signed on to your newsletter, I have always had this impression that you were an incredibly gifted and anointed storyteller. Coming from this guy, there have been plenty of tear-jerking experiences as I read your blog. Stay on course my amazing sister and NEVER stop writing! God bless you!!!…:-)

    Reply
    • Michele

      Tears are actually healthy for you, right? This is my way of extending your life. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Bethany Turner

    Michele, Congratulations! That is such exciting news! I cannot wait for your books!

    Reply
    • Michele

      BETHANY! 🙂 Thank you, friend.

      Reply
  10. anita and jay dawes

    wonderful news Michele, and so well deserved.
    Once again, reading this blog, you could have been describing me. I have so many moments of despair (still!) but there are more and more moments of peace, of knowing that I am doing what I want to do and one day there will be a result similar to yours!

    Reply
    • Michele

      I’m not sure we’ll ever escape those tough days completely. We just keep pressing on, derriere in chair. Helps to have friends in the struggle with us.

      Reply
  11. Linda Caldwell

    Congrats! Can’t wait to read your books! Couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.

    Reply
  12. Dena

    I am new to you, but so happy for your news! Congrats! I look forward to following along.

    Reply
  13. Katy McKenna

    Michele!!! This is the news we’ve all been waiting for! So thrilled for you, friend. Your words will touch many hearts, as they should. Your writing is simply beautiful. Congrats!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Katy, darling. *Tag.* You’re next.

      Reply
  14. Sarah Beckman

    WAHOO!!!! Words aren’t enough. So I cried on your voicemail. For a good laugh, get on over there! Praising God with you for his faithfulness. Book contracts are great, but you are even better always. And I’m proud of you for pressing on! Such a great encouragement.

    Reply
  15. Cori

    Thank you for writing! And congratulations!!

    Reply
  16. Anne

    This is it. This is why I write and live and live to write. Congratulations on living a life well-lived!

    “Why write? Because of how it helps me unravel life. Call it therapy or a paper cocktail, but every time I move the mess from my head to a page, I feel better. The fear and uncertainty and responsibility—it shrinks into manageable portions. God speaks in the untangling.”

    Reply
    • Michele

      Anne, I’m lifting my paper cocktail to you!

      Reply
  17. Jenny

    You write because you rock at it, no matter what the publishers say. You write because you are REAL and relatable and make us think. You write because Jenny Mosier needs to hear your reminder that she has a story to tell, and that reminder will resonate in her heart & head until she sucks it up & empties her gathering collection onto paper.

    SO happy to hear your news!!! And you are “pregnant”… with a paper pregnancy that will be delivered by a publisher! Cannot wait to “meet” your new addition!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Jenny Mosier, I’m one of your biggest fans. Cheering for you, every step of the way. Now, go write.

      Reply
  18. marina

    Your online cheering section has been waiting, believing and cheering you on with each blog post — congratulations Michele — may God infuse your BOOKS with the story He has been preparing, shaping, pre-writing in His own cursive for a long time. Blessings to you and your family today and always, may the Lifter of your head now give you His strength & great joy in chronicling your journey for His glory!!

    Reply
    • Michele

      You nearly brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, Marina. You’ve been reading and cheering for a long time. Grateful.

      Reply
  19. Danica

    Yay Michele!! So happy for you!!

    Reply
  20. Becky

    Congratulations Michelle! Put me down for a pre-order!!!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Haha. What every writer wants to hear!

      Reply
  21. Alece Ronzino

    Oh Michele! Congratulations! Celebrating with you today!!

    Reply
  22. Stacey Thureen

    Michele, I’m so excited for you and what God is doing in and through you. You are an amazing writer and I pray for wisdom, strength, endurance, and blessings in the days ahead. Joshua 1:1-9

    Reply
    • Michele

      YES => “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9

      Reply
  23. Jon D Harrison

    Congratulations – how very exciting! Your message is poweful, inspiring, and of immense value – I’m so happy to hear this; and as I have said before – you have such a unique, fresh voice – myself and others are continuously encouraged by it.

    Thank you

    Reply
  24. Lynne O. Mathews

    Michele and Family – Congratulations! This is so awesome for all of you. Thank for you for sharing all the ups and downs regardless of the contract. The pursuit of this speaks to the heart of you and I am glad that more people will get to hear from your heart! Way to go!

    Reply
  25. Pilar Arsenec

    Wooo Hooo! Congratulations! I am super thrilled and excited for you. This is so inspiring and encouraging. I am happy for you. 🙂

    Reply
  26. Brenda Quinn

    Awesome news, Michele! Can’t wait to hear more about your books. Keep on, sister. God is good. 🙂

    Reply
  27. Nicole NA

    As an aspiring author, I am inspired. Thank you for never giving up for you wouldn’t have been able to inspire someone like me looking for success stories like yours. Congratulations!

    Reply
  28. Melissa Caddell

    Whoo hoooooooooooooo!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Love you, to the moon.

      Reply
  29. Gail Medica Pelhank

    Missy-as you are remembered from your “Normal” days when you and Scott were in 2nd grade. You were always a bright and lovely child and have turned into a remarkable women. So happy that your perseverance has paid off. Raising 6 children is amazing and all that you do for your family and community and church-incredible. Praise God for you and your heart for Him.

    Reply
    • Gail M Pelhank

      Missy-as you are remembered from your “Normal” days when you and Scott were in 2nd grade. You were always a bright and lovely child and have turned into a remarkable women. So happy that your perseverance has paid off. Raising 6 children is amazing and all that you do for your family and community and church-incredible. Praise God for you and your heart for Him.

      Reply
  30. Donna

    Congradulations Michelle!! I am so happy for you!! You have great humor and persistence. You have such a love for the LORD!

    I am so happy for you and your new little ones and the family you all make.

    We love you!

    Dick and Donna Phillips

    Reply
  31. Karen Mudgett

    Michele, that is wonderful news! You are living a crazy, blessed, hard, full of “life and love” story and I am encouraged by what you share. When can I “pre-order” both books?

    Reply
  32. Megan Hyatt Miller

    So thrilled for you, AND needed to hear this encouragement today. Time to put the proverbial pen to paper–digitally speaking, of course–again. My heart needs it. Toasting you this afternoon!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Yes. Yes. Yes. Dig in and do it. You have so much to offer, Megan. I want to learn from and live out this crazy life with YOU.

      Reply
  33. Patti Hazlett

    Michelle, congratulations on your contract! What a huge blessing. Your story of perseverance is one I needed to hear. I, too, have carried this dream to write for years. It has been stressed and stretched and questioned like yours. Thank you for sharing and giving this writer a shove in the “write” direction. Blessings!

    Reply
  34. Jon Stallings

    Congratulations Michele on your book deal. We are glad you found your “why”

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Jon. Appreciate it!

      Reply
  35. Kelli Wommack

    I cannot wait! I knew that it was coming… just didn’t know when. You are an incredibly gifted writer and one of just a few that I still subscribe to in my inbox — I love your writing that much. You always seem to have a word for me.
    So happy for you and will be praying for you as you now embark on yet another new and challenging journey. God be with you!
    p.s. love the new site look!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Kelli, my friend … you’ve been a faithful online friend. Thank you for the encouragement, today and so many other times. Excited!

      Reply
  36. Karen Porter

    Michelle! So happy and proud for and of you. Congratulations. You so deserve it.

    Blessings and great joy

    Karen

    Reply
  37. Joy Groblebe

    These books are going to be amazing! Throughout this process, I promise I will be there to serve you toffee, expensive popcorn, or martini’s….whatever the matter calls for. I believe in you!!

    Reply
  38. Beth Faulkner

    Congratulations, Michele! No one deserves this more than you. I knew from the first time I heard you speak that you would be a published author, no doubt. I am excited to read the beautiful words that you have been waiting to share!

    Reply
  39. Camy Tang

    THAT IS SO AWESOME!!!!! I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Michele

      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (you’re the best 🙂 )

      Reply
  40. Amber

    That’s GREAT news! Congratulations! (Maybe the new website got your mojo going. 🙂 Looking forward to following your journey in the book process. God is good all of the time, sister!

    Reply
  41. Dave Bratcher

    So excited for you Michele. Anything I can do to help you launch and make this first book surpass any of your expectations, I will do. Good luck and as always, thanks for your refreshing vulnerability!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Wonderful! Thanks for the offer of help, Dave. I will take you up on that!

      Reply
  42. Eileen

    Congratulations! Love this post. Looking forward to your book(s)!

    Reply
  43. Carissa Magras

    Oh Michele – Thank you for sharing that! Not that you need another comment – because you don’t. But please know that that post was amazing – you are amazing. 🙂 And I can NOT wait to read your book!!! Way to go girlfriend! And thanks for the inspiration! I am far from where you are, but slowly but surely I hope to get there. 🙂

    Reply
    • Michele

      One day, one word at a time. You will get there.

      Reply
  44. Taryn

    AHHHHH!!! Congratulations!!!! 😀 😀 😀

    Reply
  45. Alice Arment

    Congratulations my dear friend! Yes, for all those reasons you press forward for the prize, I think when you stand before the Creator you will be most surprised at the countless lives you’ve touched, that He has altered in a moment of reading a shared heart, words from within, forever changed to forge ahead, take the next breath, the next step. So many times I have read the words of your heart, your life, and I found in them the courage to continue to breath forward. So….super congratulations to you on the book deal! A worthy endeavor of blood, sweat and tears, I for one out of many, cannot wait to read what will and has flowed from the depths of your heart.
    Super excited! much love to you and prayers continuing for you and your family! Alice

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you for ongoing prayers, encouragement and cheers. Love to you, dear Alice.

      Reply
  46. Rabbi Evan Moffic

    Michele, And we are the lucky ones who find beauty and inspiration and healing in your writing. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Evan. Grateful for your friendship and collaboration!

      Reply
  47. Brian Dixon

    Congrats Michelle! Your message is so important. I’m so excited you’ll be able to get it out in a bigger way.

    Reply
  48. Keith Ferrin

    To say I am celebrating with you is a massive understatement. I am so, so thrilled that thousands more people will soon come to know what I (and many others) have known for so long: This world is richer for the words you write…and the life you live. You, sister, are a gift. Truly.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, brother. Such kind words. For years, I’ve watched you crank out book after book, CD after CD. Your creative determination is inspiring. Thank you for your leadership and influence in my life!

      Reply
  49. Joel Smith

    Michele,

    What wonderful news for you, your family and for all of us who need to hear your words. From the very first time I met you and heard you speak your heart, I knew what Zondervan just discovered–you have a gift. And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God honors those who give those gifts, (His gifts) back to Him.

    So glad you kept running. We’re all on the sidelines cheering you on!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Such perfect words for me to hear today. Thank you, Joel, for standing and cheering—again and again!

      Reply
  50. Rachel Wojo

    So very blessed to read this and cheering you forward!!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, dear Rachel.

      Reply
  51. Larry Poole

    Michele, congrats! What exciting news!

    The road to success is long and arduous…with lots of doubts along the way.

    Way to stick with it. I can’t wait to read your books.

    Be blessed.

    Reply
  52. Amy von Borstel

    I’m grateful that you kept writing. Your story shows us that perseverance pays off.

    Congratulations! I know your books will bless countless lives. 🙂

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Amy. Now to persevere through the writing, too … 😉

      Reply
  53. Amber Shettron

    Yeah Michele!! Thank you for not giving up. Your writing lifts me up. I am one of those you write for but probably didn’t even know about. I started reading your blogs when you had my daughter with you in Haiti and haven’t stopped. Your bravery and tales of being a mom, stepmom, and adoptive mom help me with the challenges of being a new stepmom myself. I can’t wait to read the books. Congratulations!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Amber, I’m so glad you came out of hiding to tell me this! How is that daughter of yours doing? All the best to you as you love the children and step-children God has brought into your life.

      Reply
  54. Connie

    Michele, this is so exciting. You bring such hope to people trying to doing hard things. We all need to hear dreams do come true. Can’t wait to read your first book.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thanks, Connie.

      Reply
  55. Rachel

    Michele,

    Congratulations on your book contract, how inspiring! I’ve been asking myself the same sort of “Why write?” questions lately. And I irritate myself with the inability to quit. I just have to keep hoisting up Hope above my head, and the mess and mystery of this life. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  56. Leah Ann Crussell

    I am unbelievably proud of you, Michele, on SO many levels….wife, mother of SIX!, speaker, coach, author, and now soon-to-be published BOOK author! Your dream has come true – as I knew it would. I was telling my husband (in my life, so much like your Troy is to you) that this couldn’t be happening to a more wonderful person. You are supremely gifted by our heavenly Father, and your reward in Heaven will be great. Stay focused on the prize (Jesus himself) and your unconditional love for others, and He will anoint and richly bless, as He’s already so abundantly done in you and through you. Thank you for being such an inspiration and joy.

    Reply
  57. Beth Jankowski

    Michele, I’m so happy for you and your family. You are truly amazing and inspiring. You went after your dream and made it happen! I can’t wait to read your book.

    By the way I love your new pictures of the family and You! Awesome!

    Reply
  58. DANI

    This post spoke to everything I’m feeling and now I’m in tears at computer. Thank you for sharing your triumph & past struggles. I’m a new reader and I’m already so happy for you. God bless you and thank you for your timely words. I soooo needed this tonight.

    Reply

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