Monday, March 28, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 22
Happy Monday. Thank you for returning to my blog after your Easter weekend.
Well. Time to get my head on straight. I’ve been spinning like crazy for a number of weeks. Before Mount Hermon I had about 13 straight days on the hefty rewrite for Web of Lies. I'm talkin' morning til night. You want to be edited good and hard, try getting a double edit from two of the best in the business—Karen Ball and Dave Lambert. Sheesh, those folks make me work! They also make my books so much better. Anyway, then it was off to Mount Hermon, which I love, but which is also a lot of work for staff people. I drove home from Mount Hermon to our California home (about an hour up the road from the conference), then next morning flew out to our Idaho home for Easter. Got back around midnight last night, and here I am in my California office, trying to remember which way is up, and what was I doing?
Oh, yeah. I have about one more day’s worth of heavy work on that Web of Lies rewrite. I tell you, this has been one tough book, from beginning to end. I think it’s the spider thing. The arachnid world is definitely fighting back. Yesterday my husband and I were in the car, and I saw a little black spider traipsing across the ceiling above his head. I pointed to it. Mark smashed it with the palm of his hand. Thing fell on the console—still very much alive and skittering. Toward me, of course. See? They have it in for me. Mark smacked it again, turned over his palm—and nada. The spider just up and disappeared. No doubt still hunting for me.
Mark wiped his palm on my sleeve and laughed.
Don’t you just love teasing husbands?
Okay, back to story. Oh, yes, one thing first. Now that I’m back on my regular schedule, I do plan to post earlier in the mornings as I did before. Promise. At least, I’m very sincere about it at the moment.
So. My Eyes of Elisha manuscript was at my agent’s, awaiting her word as to its readiness for publication. Or not. And Cast a Road Before Me was out on three editors’ desks. This was in the summer of 1999. I’d been on my journey for 9 ½ years. And I’d been on my journey to write Christian fiction for about a year. I now knew without a doubt that I was doing what God wanted me to do. That He’d protected these books all along until my heart was set right with Him. These books had always been His; I just hadn’t known it before. Now that I was diligently working in the Christian publishing world as He wanted me to do, I’d start selling with no problem.
Editor A contacted my agent about Cast A Road. (If you’ve forgotten who Editor A is, check back to last week’s posts.) She liked the writing, but her personal preference was for third person multiple POV, not first person. If I was willing to rewrite the story into third person, she’d love to take another look at it.
I’ll tell ya, I thought about that for all of two minutes. I had very much the same feeling as I had when Big New York Agent (BNYA) had flung open her door to me, but I knew her agency wasn’t the right fit. Here I finally—after 9 ½ years!—had an editor who’d like to publish me—if I made her requested changes, and to her satisfaction. But in my gut, I knew it wasn’t right. Cast a Road Before Me was Jessie’s first person story. After that book came Color the Sidewalk for Me, which was Celia’s personal story. And no way was I rewriting that one.
I told Jane, my agent, to say thank you, but no thanks to Editor A.
No worries. I still had Editors B & C left.
Editor B contacted Jane--with a rejection of Cast a Road. Jane forward me the letter. I read it, went “Huh?” and read it again. Then a third time. Wait a minute. This editor must have put somebody else’s rejection letter in my envelope. This couldn’t be about my book. The editor said that the Christian content wasn’t noticeable. Was it in the book at all? Because the house respected Jane so much, if I would answer some questions to explain what the Christian content was, and what I was trying to accomplish through the story, then maybe there’d be a way to re-look at the book . . .
No Christian content? Were they crazy? Of the three novels I’d written, this had way more content than the others. In fact, I’d worried that I’d been too preachy. This made absolutely no sense. My stomach twisted in a dozen knots. I’d been slapped down—again. I’d written this book as a Christian story; Jane knew it was a strong Christian story—and this house says it’s not Christian enough for them?
God . . . what? Is this your idea of a joke? I’m not laughing . . .
Friends, I can’t tell you how sick I felt. I thought I’d finally gotten it. I’d learned the craft. Then God had changed my heart. I was now writing for Him. I knew this book was ready to publish. I knew this book had a very strong Christian message—in fact, one that the world hates most—that you can’t get to Heaven just by being “good.” That Jesus is the only way to salvation. I’d done everything I knew to do—and I wasn’t being “Christian” enough?
I sank into despondency. This was worse than all the other times. You know why? Because now my writing wasn’t just for myself; it was a calling. This was what God wanted me to do with my life.
Which meant, for the first time, I couldn’t quit.
Read Part 23