My book releases today. A book, that I wrote, is now for sale on Amazon. That’s just crazy.
I have felt so, so many emotions on this journey. Fear, excitement, sorrow, joy, panic, and now, exaltation. I was twenty two years old when I wrote my first novel, Dellripple and the Weeping Statue. I was pretty sure it would become an instant bestseller. The story involved two sisters on a journey, finding gypsies, braving crocodiles, and, of course, meeting dashing young men. 🙂
An older writer offered to read it, and my did his honest critique sting. A lot. I felt overwhelmed and small and stupid for bringing my fairy tale before someone as knowledgeable as him. But I knew I wanted to keep at it.
My brother suggested I find a writers group. So I joined SCBWI and started meeting at a library every month with a very colorful and very loving group of women. They gently and persistently critiqued Dellripple. I learned from them–what kept a reader’s attention, what dragged in their minds. And I started reading more books on the craft of writing.
I worked and reworked Dellripple until I had a story that generated some interest among editors. I got a few requests for partials but nothing evolved. I put it away and wrote two more novels–one a Christian romantic comedy, and the other a YA fantasy called Into the Bermuda Triangle. The first has sat untouched since I wrote it, but I fell in love with my seaside fantasy.
For two years, I worked on that one. I had it critiqued by different writers groups, received feedback from the lovely Heather, and eventually drew the attention of an agent who worked with me, back and forth, before ultimately passing on the project.
Around this time, I went on a trip to Malawi, Africa with a small but fantastic group of writers. We recorded the stories of orphans whose lives had been touched by God via COTN. I loved it. In fact, I had never loved writing so much. I had brushed against the Beauty of another world with my pen, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing about divine love.
For the first time, I asked God to lead my steps as a writer. I fully expected Him to guide me far away from fiction, toward a more “noble” form of writing. But He didn’t do that at all. He told me to go for it. Write adventure. And magic. And love. Make up worlds and let your imagination fly as high as any child’s daydreams, he said. But He told me to pray. Pray before I write, as I write, let the whole process just breathe with prayer.
So I started a brand new story on January 1, 2011 called Penumbra. I had no idea how God would unfold himself in my story, but I knew He could. I focused on my characters and their stories, and I honestly didn’t take any active steps to “insert” God into my story. He did that. And He did it in a way I never could have dreamed up on my own. He met me in the process and, through metaphor, He taught me so much more about himself.
And now, here I am, nearly two years after writing that first paragraph back in January, and God has seen me through. He gave me two amazing editors (Joy Givens and Leslie Santamaria) who are grammar wizards. (In fact, if they were writing this blog post, it would be far more polished!) He gave me two amazing artists (Jessica Bennett and Ellie Beckler) who helped bring Penumbra to life. And God gave me a husband who has sacrificed right along with me, and loved me thoroughly through the smooth parts and hard parts.
God has given me every single thing I needed along the way, when I asked Him.
So that’s my writing tale. It’s not over today. I’m learning that it’s not a matter of “arriving,” because God is all about process. He has much, much more for me than Penumbra. But today is big. Today is a gift from him. And I wanted to celebrate by telling you a bit of my journey.
So now, I would love to hear from you, fabulous readers. How has God met you on this crazy-amazing-frustrating-trying-rewarding journey called writing?