A couple of months ago God spoke to me in regards to my writing. It happened after Doug Roush, a pastor at Lakeside Church, spoke on idolatry. He said that an idol can be a good thing in your life that you turn into the “ultimate” thing. The Holy Spirit convicted me and I realized that I had done that with my writing.
When I wrote my first novel I loved every minute of it. I was running a day care in my home at the time and I needed a creative outlet. For years singing was that for me but I wasn’t doing much of that anymore, so I found that writing gave me the creative release I craved. During the writing of my first novel I read books on writing, joined critique forums and groups and really worked on honing my craft. When I finished the novel I started querying agents and publishers. After receiving rejections, critiques and encouragement from agents I was hooked. Not on writing but on the prospect of getting published. Publication had gotten into my blood and the challenge of it fueled me.
I found myself choosing my plots, not based on what I wanted to write (or God wanted me to write) but on what I thought would sell. I wrote quickly and began querying before I’d even finished the rough draft. I did this with my next few novels. As you can imagine much of what I was submitting was poorly written. I needed to take a step back and make sure the novel was it’s best before sending it out in the world of publishing. It’s hard enough to break into the business, let alone by submitting sub par stories.
The other thing that happened in my desperate quest for publication was that I lost sight of my reason for writing. My goal was to write entertaining novels with God’s truth subtly woven in the pages. Writing is my passion, my ministry – for the purpose of bringing glory to God. I confess that the purpose changed and became more about bringing glory to myself. I have surrendered that to Him and His grace has covered me. I would be lying if I said that my motives are entirely pure (I still fantasize about seeing my name on a novel cover) but my main focus and purpose is to glorify God in my writing. I am back on the path He has set out for me.
Right now I’m working on my suspense novel (the one that placed first in the WMX Grabber competition). I have been taking it slow – no submitting, just writing. I am working on each scene until I feel it is the best it can be, making sure it has all six elements (as I learned at a recent conference). I have been paying attention to imagery, sensory details and mood. I’ve worked on developing my characters and making authentic dialogue. I’ve been reading books on the craft of writing and taking advice from my critique partners. The book is almost finished and then I will send it out to my test readers. I will then wait patiently until I hear back from them and make necessary changes. The book will be the best it can be before I start to query agents.
I am once again enjoying the creative process because let’s face it, if I’m not enjoying my book while I write it how can I expect a reader to enjoy reading it. And isn’t that what it’s all about?