Friday, February 22, 2008

How I Got Here

No, this isn't a biology lesson. Although that story is an interesting one, I'll save it for another time.
This past week I think it's finally hit me. I'm living my dream. Or starting to.
For longer than I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. Now that I am one, I've been reflecting on how I got here.
For a lot of you who have no interest in writing whatsoever, you may yawn and move to another blog. But even if you're
not a writer, you might find this interesting.
A lot of people seem to be under the impression that anyone can write a book. And that it's easy.
When I first began to write, I too fell into that trap.
I'd written a manuscript. My sister-in-law and a few friends told me it was good, so off it went in the mail, with high hopes of soon seeing my name in print and the million dollar checks rolling in...
Wait for it...
'Little did she know...'
Oh yes, little did I know. In fact, truth be told, I knew absolutely nothing about writing. I didn't know there were 'rules'. I didn't understand Head Hopping or POV (point of view), and I wasn't sure if I was writing in first person, third or omniscient.
Actually those first manuscripts were probably written in all three! I lie. I've never written in first and never intend to. But that's a post for another day too...
Keep in mind that I began submitting BEFORE the Internet came in to existence. I was also the mom of a toddler with another on the way. Back in those days, after a few rejections came in, I was done. I didn't have the time or energy, and I didn't feel called to it. So I stopped writing for a time.
Fast forward about six years. We'd just gotten our internet hooked up and I began to peruse the net. To this day I don't know how I stumbled upon the fact that Christian fiction existed. I'd recently rededicated my life to the Lord, and I knew that if I was going to write, it was going to have to be for Him.
The Internet opened up a whole new world for me. I joined some writers groups, found a critique group, and realized just how much I DID NOT KNOW. Boy that was hard.
But as I started writing again, something resonated within me. I was born to do this. At the time, I didn't know for how long or where it would lead, I just loved writing stories. So I did.
And once again, I became very familiar with seeing my own hand-writing on an airmail letter in my box.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're fortunate.
With every submission you send out, you should include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. This is for the editor or agent to send back to you when they're about to shoot your dreams down. I have more than a few.
But it's okay. Because I've learned from them. I've heard some folks say just dust it off and send that baby out again. And I've done that too. But after a while, if that manuscript is still getting rejected, you might want to ask yourself why.
Well, okay, time to be honest. If you're not filled with self-confidence and able to take harsh criticism, the writing life may not be for you. I've cried a few tears over the years. I've pulled at my hair and wondered what I was doing wrong.
But I didn't just wonder, I found out. And I took a break.
I believe at that time in my life, I just couldn't take any more rejection. I had let the dream of becoming a published author consume me. Every time I sent something out, I expected a positive response. And when that didn't happen, it began to wear me down.
Sometimes you have to walk away from your dreams. And sometimes it takes a while to realize that what you want isn't necessarily what God wants. It took approximately five, long hard years for me to come to that understanding.
God and I had some business to take care of, and when He was finished with me, I was in a better place. I was spiritually strong, emotionally healthy and for the first time in my life, I think I actually believed in myself.
That was about four years ago.
I remember sitting at the computer again and looking through some old files. And the desire to write came back full force.
After talking to God about it, I had no doubt that He was opening doors for me in that area, and I was to walk through them.
And so I began writing again.
It was at that time that I discovered American Christian Fiction Writers. I know I've said this a million times, but without that group, I honestly don't think I would be where I am as a writer today.
Once again I found myself in a place where I had so much to learn, but I was a sponge. I asked questions, probably a lot of stupid ones, I went to conferences, I networked, and I prayed. And God did some amazing things. Oh, and I wrote. And wrote, and wrote...
So if you think it's easy, think again. It's not. It's hard, hard work. I've had many moments where the temptation to give up is strong, but then I'll receive an encouraging email or critique, and I'll keep going.
I truly believe I'm right where God wants be to be at this point in my life. That's an awesome feeling.
It's also a little overwhelming to know that I have an agent who will be talking to editors about my book. Not so long ago these were very scary people in my opinion. I've since learned that they're human, ha, just like me, and they're in it for God's glory, just like me. We're actually all on the same team.
What a concept.
So that's how I got here.
I'm not exactly sure where I'm going yet, but I'm following God's lead. He's put my work into good hands, and we'll just see what doors open. Some probably won't, but there is one that will. In His timing, not mine.
If I have any advice to give for a new writer, it's this. Don't give up. If you're sure this is what God has called you to do, do it. Learn all you can, get out there and learn from others who have gone before you, and write what He puts on your heart.
He'll handle the rest.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

what a journey you have been on...and are on...and will continue............because it really is ture what the royal "they" say, it is all about the journey.