I’ve had some wonderful conversations with friends over the past couple weekends, but one thing has become clear to me: people don’t realize that the books I’ve been talking about were actually written by me.
There’s a compliment in there. I do share and promote works by other authors and past editing clients. In my former working life, I was an editor. So it makes sense that people might not realize right away that I wrote these books. Which made me think that, as a storyteller, maybe I should tell the story of how these latest books came into being.
In 2003, I stood in a hotel room in Houston, wondering if I had made a complete mistake by coming to this writer’s conference. I didn’t know anyone; I had a two year old and five year old at home. And downstairs, when I had peeked in the conference room after registering, the chatter of voices made it seem like everyone already knew each other. I wondered if I could hide in my hotel room the whole the time. After all, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had any time alone.
But the trip had been expensive. And I had a book I had been writing. Finding time to write was hard with two little ones. Was it what I was supposed to be doing? I had prayed before I left for God to show me if He wanted me to continue.
I had always wanted to be a writer. The book I had been working on started as an AP English project in high school. I had written a whole 100 pages and transported my class back in time to 1881 Oregon. Nothing about that original story remained, other than the setting and a few characters’ names. But over the past few years, I had been writing and learning about writing. Now it was time to see if it had been wasted time.
I left my hotel room and continued through the conference. I met some other writers in the same boat I was: knowing no one and feeling alone. I attended my appointment with an editor from my dream publishing house. And she liked my story and wanted to see more of it. And another appointment garnered me a potential agent.
I heard God’s voice: write.
I arrived home with renewed desire to write and improve my craft. Those writers I met? They became critique partners and life-long friends. I was blessed doing what I loved with good friends along the journey.
And yet, my book didn’t get published. I wouldn’t get an agent for several more years. I kept coming close, but no publishing house would give me that coveted contract.
I kept writing. I kept going to writer’s conferences. I kept learning. I wrote other books.
And then I went through a divorce and became a single mom struggling with two special needs children and how to put food on the table. And writing slowly gave way to survival. For nine long years I wondered why God had led me so far just to have it come to nothing when I writing contract would go so far to helping provide for us.
I knew I had heard God’s voice before, but now it didn’t make any sense. I put my hopes and dreams on a shelf and wondered.
Finally, I got my dream job working as a managing editor for Zondervan. Most of my previous experience in publishing had been from the author’s point of view. Now I had a chance to see what it was like from the other side. I got to learn every aspect of publishing.
And when it was time to leave that job, I still wasn’t sure that writing books was in my future. I managed projects and edited and did graphic design.
Until God made it clear that it was time to get back to my books. As my rheumatoid arthritis grew worse, He started clearing my schedule and brought along friends who encouraged me. He helped me realize all my experience allowed me to understand the complete publishing process to get my books published. I had developed contacts in the publishing world who could help me with the parts of the process I could no longer do.
Most authors will tell you their books did not come overnight. And you might be surprised to find that some of them took as long as mine. And now that the first two are out, I’m hoping that the rest of my already-written books will join Coming Home and Be Mine on the shelves. Thank you for letting me share the journey with you.