Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Writing Story

I always wanted to be a writer. I mean ALWAYS! When I went to college, I wanted to be an English major so that I could one day be an author, but "common sense" prevailed and I chose to major in education because I never thought I could really be a writer and make a living at it.

I was student teaching one semester and the teacher I was working for asked me, "What do you really want to do?"
And I said, "I want to be a writer."
And she said, "Oh, I wanted to be a writer, but once I started teaching, I never found the time."
Of course, that got me to thinking. I went to one of my favorite English professors and talked it over with her. Her advice? "Do this," she suggested. "Go drop the education courses and state your major as English. Then see how you feel." Her theory was that I would know once I took action. If I started to freak out and have an anxiety attack or something, I guess I would know I needed to switch back. But what I did was this: I pretended that I dropped out of education, and I pretended I was an English major. I liked the way it felt.

After a couple of days, I walked over to the administration building and changed my major to English. Peace! Yeah, lots of peace, but it sure wasn't easy to get a job! LOL! I think, however, that when you really feel a calling on your life, or a passion for something, you do it because you love it. And then, you do what you have to do on the side in order to do what you want to do from your heart. Does that make sense? I have taken my beloved Liberal Arts degree and been a bank teller, a paralegal assistant (that's dressing it up a bit), and even worked at a leasing company. But I got paid! And in the evenings (this was BC--Before Children) I worked on my books. It was a big dream, but I have always been a dreamer.

I live in Nashville--Music City, USA. It is home to many dreamers. Recently, I was at an "open mic" night down on Music Row with my daughter, an aspiring music artist, and I was reminded that while Nashville is a place where dreams come true, it is also a place where dreams die--where they crash and burn on the opinion of a record producer, a music publisher, or the finicky public. As I looked at all the dreamers who filled the cafe that evening, I felt a common bond. I'm no musician, but I am quite familiar with the rejection of my craft. And I'm familiar with the feeling that fills each dreamer's heart: POSSIBILITY.

When I first ventured out into the land of "seeking publication," I had no idea what I was doing. I had never heard of a "book proposal," so I was sending manuscripts out cold. Looking back, I'm surprised those first manuscripts made it as far as they did! I started out writing fiction--fiction for young 'tween and teenage girls. I sent my dreams (in the form of a book) to a large Christian publisher, and then I waited. I waited for what seemed like an eternity!

I got a rejection--nine months after submiting the manuscript. (This was before email. Since email, I have gotten rejection letters in record time!) I was eight months pregnant with my first child, and goodness, the emotions were in full swing. My husband was the one who picked the letter up off the floor and read the editor's personal note at the bottom (I had read the first few sentences and thrown the letter down as I quickly ran off to my pity party!) But Rich had seen the note at the bottom.
"Don't give up!" was handwritten in a feminine scrawl across the bottom left corner of the letter. "Someone will publish this."
"Call her," my husband urged. So I did. She was full of encouragement and told me she had pushed my manuscript through five committees but couldn't get it through the last one. It seemed the publisher had just been bought by a secular house, and they weren't sure if they were going to continue publishing Christian fiction.

A rejection? Yes. But I held on to the letter from that editor. I still have it today! It reminds me that every rejection should be an encouragement. Think about it this way: Rejections are directions from God. It is His hand that guides you through those rejections and leads you to what He has planned. Disappointments are plentiful in this business--but so are dreams--and this is where I've made my home and hope to always live:

in the land of POSSIBILITY...........

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