I’m leaving for my first writer’s conference this Thursday. Gulp. Yes, it’s the conference that inspired this ridiculous story about my fears. I’m not really worried I’ll make all those mistakes and I know I’ve been blessed tremendously by experienced authors who have helped me create the materials I need to pitch my story to agents and acquisitions editors, but I’m nervous! And this will be the first time I leave my kids and husband alone together for three consecutive nights. So please, please pray for all of us.
In honor of this conference—where I’ll put on my writer-hat and announce to the world I have a story for them—I’m sharing a little of my journey from sceptic writer. Hope you enjoy!
I’ve always loved to weave intriguing stories. As a child, I created mystery games and led my friends around the house collecting clues that would twist into an elaborate story. As a teenager, I was happiest spinning make believe stories around the campfire. In college, my Christian-fiction-author professor even accused me of being a writer. (For more, click here) Still, it never occurred to me that I could be a professional story teller.
As a Psychology graduate student, I allowed several university administrators to read my private journal as part of an investigation into a professor’s behavior. I did it because I believed with all my heart that it was what God wanted me to do. Many of the pages were filled with personal prayers to God, and so I believed if he wanted to share his letters then I shouldn’t stop him. But the pages also exposed brokenness in my own soul that I preferred to keep silent. To ensure that could never happen again, I stopped journaling my thoughts. If I slipped up and wrote a few pages, I was always quick to destroy the evidence.
Then tragedy struck. My husband’s cousin was killed in a heartbreaking bus accident. A young college student attending the same private Christian university I had, she was on her way to a mission trip when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The bus veered off the road and flipped injuring many but killing only her. The last image I had of her—beautiful face alight with amusement at her family’s teasing—stayed with me. Her sweet spirit and potential all vanished so tragically. I had to process all the questions. How could God allow this? How must the bus driver feel? What would guilt like that feel like? How do you heal from such a terrible loss? Still, I refused to write down my thoughts.
But the words forced themselves out in my dreams. Instead of my story or her story, there was a new fiction individual I could write about. She had lost her mother and sister in a car accident that was her fault. Emma’s story was tragic and painful, but through her struggles I found the answers I sought. God was always with Emma even when she didn’t see it. He never stopped making her into the woman he intended. He brought her back to the career in architecture she had abandoned, freed her from her own brand of self-punishment, and even redeemed her first childhood crush along the way. Cole had some betrayal of his own to deal with before he could offer his heart to his best friend. Together they found peace and healing that only God can provide.
With so much ground to cover this manuscript became an epic. However, I still didn’t see myself as a writer. During this time, another story had materialized also from a dream—in part to escape poor Emma’s trials. This new character seemed to have it all. She’s living her dream as an aspiring actress with her first speaking part in a major motion picture. She’s fun, cheerful, beautiful, and determined to follow the Spirit.
Trisha’s story seemed more in line with what I believed most women looked for in an inspiring fiction escape so the seed finally germinated that I could write for other people. Of course, I soon learned that Trisha wasn’t as open and shut as he appeared. She had secret struggles and hurts she didn’t talk about. And she was in love with the film’s assistant director. A guy whose adulterous mother left him with trust wounds to overcome before he could let Trisha close.
Isn’t it amazing how God can take some of the most difficult times in our lives and make them beautiful and good? Excited about my creation, I dared to ask my cousin, a devoted Christian fiction fan, to read my first draft. And she loved it!
So, I immediately published and became extremely successful. Bahahahaha. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. That was for all you newbie writers out there, who expect the journey is easy because God’s in control. You will always have lessons to learn and skills to mature. In fact, I’m reminded—often—the more you know, the more you realize just how little you know. But that’s okay. It’s the way it should be. There is great joy to be found in this voyage to our Father’s arms.
Thank you for joining me in This Trial to Love Life.