Sunday, August 11, 2013

Has God given you a book to write?

Write the stories God gives you, by Elizabeth Maddrey

For a lot of writers, writing isn’t something they choose to do, it’s something they can’t help but do. I fall into that category. Publication was always on that “someday I want to…” list that we all carry around with us in the back of our minds. Also on that list are things like going into space and taking a trip around the world. For the longest time, having a book published seemed just as likely as either of those.

I spent a lot of time reading about the craft and working on my writing, going to conferences, reading blogs…all the things you do to better yourself when you’re serious about a particular topic. And yet, nothing seemed to get me any closer to feeling like what I turned out was publishable. In fact, when I finally got something that I thought was close, I had it critiqued as part of a conference experience and the author who did that for me (someone whose books I’ve enjoyed and who I respect as a writer) told me, in pretty blunt terms, that it wasn’t something anyone would ever pick up. It wasn’t so much the writing as it was the topic. I write about things that aren’t all that mainstream. The Christians in my books sin – often on purpose. And while they feel guilty about it and, ultimately, repent, the characters in my books are a lot like me and the people I know. Which is to say, not perfect.

After I got that feedback, I did a lot of soul searching. Did I want to write things that were publishable or did I feel like the things I was writing were the things that I was meant to be writing? And if the latter, what did that mean? For me it ended up meaning putting aside the dream of having an agent and one of the big houses begging to publish my books – at least for a while – and going with a smaller publishing company. It might have meant self publishing – that was on my mind while I looked at the smaller houses.

So that’s my encouragement to writers out there. Don’t be afraid to think outside the big six. There’s a lot of change going on in the publishing world right now, and it’s opening some doors for new writers or those of us who are writing things that are a little different. It’s an exciting time to be a writer. So write the stories God gives you and then ask Him to help you find their home – no matter what kind of home that ends up being.