Category Archives: Writing

How Did I Become a Writer?

How did I become a writer? Most authors I know begin their story with something about when they were six they knew they wanted to be a writer. Not so with me. When I was six I wanted to be a pegasus unicorn 🙂 (probably explains why I write fantasy now).

I never dreamed of being a writer. In high school, I loved science and math, not English and certainly not writing. So how did I start? It began when I walked into a Christian bookstore and asked if they carried any Christian fantasy. The woman gave me a strange look and pointed to a lone Frank Peretti book at the end of the book aisle.

I went home stunned. That’s it? Just Frank Peretti? (by the way, I like his stuff, but I wanted more). After talking to Dan, he suggested maybe I should write. Yeah right. But the thought stuck with me. Then on a long car trip to Seattle, I had my idea for a book. I went home and wrote. I was naïve back then. I thought a writer sat down, wrote a book, found someone to publish it and that was that. Eight years later, I now know there is a whole lot more to the writing process.

I wrote for two years, just writing out the story in my head. Then I discovered there was a writing group in Oregon and that they were having a one-day conference in a couple weeks. I signed up. That one-day conference changed my writing life.

I met Randy Ingermanson (who was the guest speaker that day). For anyone who is thinking about writing fiction, you need to check out his website here. I went home and immediately signed up for his ezine and began to follow his blog. A couple months later, I followed Randy’s advice and signed up for the Mt Hermon Writing Conference.

Mt Hermon was another pivotal point in my writing life. For five days I met with hundreds of other Christian writers, learning how to write better, how to seek publication, met some great agents and publishers and came home ready to take my writing from a hobby to an earnest pursuit.

I spent the following year just writing. Next week I will share how I write a book (from idea to final draft), but let me just say now, it takes a loooong time (at least for me). By the end of that year, I had a finished, polished manuscript.

In 2010 I was able to attend Mt Hermon again and this time had a manuscript to share with publishers and editors. At this second conference, I ran into Rebecca Luella Miller, another pivotal person in my writing life. It was Becky who told me I should blog. Once again my thoughts were yeah right. How? When? And what would I write about? But with her gentle encouragement, I jumped into the blogging world.

It is now 2011 and I am still on my writing journey. Writing is a long, patient process. It requires self discipline, a willingness to learn the craft, and lots and lots of time. I’ll admit if I had known eight years ago what it took to be a writer, I would have been overwhelmed. But here I am and I love it :). I thank God for this medium by which I can share my life, my creative ideas, and His truth.

Next week I will share the ins and out of how I write a book (and no, its not just sit down and write, at least not for me lol). So don’t forget to stop by!

My First Rejection

I am a stubborn woman (I think my husband just said amen to that :P). I figure out my goal then throw myself at it. I strategize, plan down to the minute detail and calculate my odds at achieving that which I want most. I subconsciously live by the belief that if I just work hard enough at it, I can have it.

But sometimes what I want and what God wants for me are two different things.

Sometimes he says wait.

I just received my first book rejection two weeks ago. Now at first read, that would seem like a bummer. No one likes to be rejected. However, this person had a lot of nice things to say about my manuscript. As a writer, I needed to hear that. But she let me know, in the end, that the Christian book market at this point is not looking for a book like mine.

Anything else I could work with. If my manuscript needed more work, I could do that. Better writing, a thorough grammar check, a stronger main character: those are things I have control over. But the market? No matter how hard I work, I cannot change the market.

I stared at the email a couple more times, elated that someone liked my work and yet disheartened about the state of the market. Why write then? I thought. Then God pointed out two things:

He is not confined by the market. He can do what he wants when he wants. If God wants my book out there, then he has the power to do it (that if is a scary word).

And

Only he can make it happen. I can write the best book I can, but only God can bring together the market and the people to make it happen. That is out of my hands.  Believe me, the stubborn side of me wants to. But I can’t.

So what do I do now? I write and wait on Him. Waiting is not easy, but it produces patience and self control. Instead of barreling on ahead with my own agenda, I am learning to quiet myself and wait for God to move. That might be months or it might be years. I might not see it in my lifetime. But I believe that I am supposed to write. So therefore I will continue down the path God has shown me and trust him with the ending to my own life story.

Writing in the Dark

I began writing about six years ago. Little did I know the steep learning curve that came with that particular “hobby” or the things God would teach me through the process.

At first I wrote scenes that came to me. I fiddled around with plots, never quite knowing where I was going. As I wrote, life continued to roll by. God move my family a couple times. I had a daughter, then along came the twins. When the twins arrived, I put writing away. My days were consumed with diaper changing, feeding children, and keeping the house from burning down (forget about cleaning it… Dan did that, bless his heart lol).

By this point, I came to realize writing is hard. I thought about putting the whole endeavor behind me. After all, when could I write with four little ones running around the house? But I could not shake the bug. I had to write. I had to finish the story inside of me.

When the twins were about one, I went back to writing. Sometimes only a hundred words a day. Sometimes I went weeks without writing because my family needed me. Life interfered again and my family found ourselves on the not-so-thrilling roller coaster ride of unemployment. It was then I started channeling the fear, heartache, and my deep search for God into my writing. I finally began to understand my characters. I understood their search inside themselves to choose the easy way or to choose God’s way: many times a path of hardship. I now had a plot.

We finished the roller coaster of unemployment (and lived!). By now I was half way through my first book. I was on a roll. I began to have goals of finishing the book and trying my hand at finding a publisher for it. Then I heard God speak. I knew in my heart he was telling me to wait an entire year. I balked at the idea and pushed forward with my own goals. God slammed back (note to anyone thinking about going through a door God is closing… don’t! He can slam hard lol).

I stopped fighting God and listened to him. I quietly put my goals of publishing away and instead continued to write. I finished my manuscript halfway through that year. I had two trusted friends critique it. They found all the things I knew in my gut I needed to work on with the story. I cried (yeah, its hard to work on something for years and find out you’re not quite there yet), then picked myself up by my flip-flops straps (I don’t wear boots) and began to work on the rewrites in earnest.

I learned a lot that year. I learned to finish a book. I learned to push through writer’s block. I learned to take criticism and use it to make my book better. And I was learning to put my work as a writer into God’s hand.

December came around again. Instead of my own plans, this time I asked God his. I felt his nudge to go ahead and start exploring the world of publishing. I signed up for the Mt Hermon conference. I tidied up my one page and pitch. And unlike last year, I totally felt scared about the prospects of publishing.

I met some amazing people at the conference. I had people interested in my manuscript. And I learned even more about writing. I came home refreshed.

During that year I also came to realize how much I had learned about the gospel through the writing of my story. Its not just about being saved from hell: it’s about being saved from something inside of us, something we cannot save ourselves from. It’s about God saving us and healing the darkness inside of us. What a beautiful picture!

The story of my writing is not done yet. No, I don’t have people knocking down my door wanting to publish my book. In fact, no one has knocked. But I felt God speaking to me again last week.

He is asking me to write in the dark now.

I can’t see where my story is going to go: I don’t know if it will ever be published or if it will only be something I leave behind for my children to read some day. What I do know is that I need to be faithful in the little bit of writing I do each day. And leave the rest to God.

(For anyone needing encouragement during their own writing in the dark, my friend Becky has done a series of posts this week. Check them out here:

http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/