Thursday, March 03, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 6
Thank you for all the comments yesterday. I appreciate them immensely.
Okay, back to story.
So in 1996 I quit writing.
I want to pause a minute here in my tale to make a few points. First, you readers out there, are you beginning to get the picture of just how hard it is to learn fiction and get published? And believe me, you ain’t even heard the whole story yet.
And you novelists—have you noticed two issues so far in my story? Two very important issues? Smaller one first: I was going it alone.
I don’t mean not having the support of my husband and parents and family. I did have that. But at that point I wasn’t yet on e-mail. The Internet wasn’t what it is today. I didn’t belong to a writers’ group or a supportive writers’ loop such as American Christian Fiction Writers. In short, I lacked the network that has become so important to me today. Nowadays there’s so much support out there for a writer. Take advantage of it! And if you happen to be writing fiction for the Christian market, you need to join ACFW. Pull a Nike and just do it. (Web site link over at the left.)
Second major issue, far, far more important: I was a Christian, but I wasn’t praying about my writing.
I’d been raised in a strong Christian home. My parents (Ruth and J.T. Seamands) were missionaries in India for twenty years. My father preached all over the world. Both my parents were Christian writers. My uncle, David Seamands, is still well known for his nonfiction books, including Healing for Damaged Emotions. Now that I was married, my husband and I had founded our partnership on Christ. As a result, we had (and still have) a strong, loving marriage. I was active in my church. Jesus was my Savior. But He was not my Lord. I was. And my writing was for me.
I never stopped to think about where my talent for writing came from in the first place. Never stopped to think that the God who’d placed it within me just might have some purpose for having done so. I was too busy thinking about my own purpose--becoming successful and famous.
By the way, do you have a talent you haven’t turned fully, completely over to God? My friend, you are making a big mistake.
I could easily start preaching here. Instead I'll return to my story.
For, I don’t know, maybe six months, I didn’t write. I was raising two children, with my husband often gone on business. I was still doing some work for my Vantage Point clients. I sang soprano in the church choir and often did solos. I stayed plenty busy. But there was an empty place within me. That empty place was the need to write fiction.
Eyes of Elisha stayed in the drawer. It had gone through just about every major publisher anyway, so who’d ever want to buy it? But Color the Sidewalk for Me-- just maybe . . .
One day I pulled that taped-up letter from my ex agent out of the file. With fresh eyes, I could see that some of the things she said were right. I was also now emotionally distanced enough to discern that she wasn’t right in all points. That, in fact, Sidewalk had a lot of good in it and was certainly redeemable. It just needed a whole lotta work. Remember, for one thing it was still 200,000 words. That’s two books, not one. Sigh.
One day I plunked myself down at the computer and embarked on the journey of learning how to do major cuts. Surely when this process was done, Sidewalk would sell.
But wait a minute—I had another problem.
I didn’t even have an agent anymore.
Read Part 7