It’s 2:30 am. I can’t sleep, but I’m too tired to do real work, so I thought I’d share some BIG NEWS about my fiction writing!
I wrote a novel several years ago.
I would have NEVER dreamed back then what God—in his infinite kindness and unending faithfulness—would be doing with it today.
I. AM. SO. #BLESSED.
I thought it might encourage some of you to hear about it.
But first some background…
Many moons ago, I went through a long rough patch of pastoral burnout.
One of the things that the Lord used to carry me through was reading fiction, especially books by Marilynne Robinson, Andrew Peterson, Wendell Barry, ND Wilson.
I don’t have time or space to tell here all the reasons fiction helped me, but I feel in love with storytelling all over again. It had been a passion of mine once, but that fell away in seminary and pastoring. Week-in and week-out non-fiction writing (sermons) had sapped my creative energies.
One of our goals in transitioning away from being a lead pastor was to devote more time to writing fiction and writing songs.
A story began to form in my head, and I determined to write it.
So, as I started a new job in Kentucky (hours away from my family), I started my novel. I sat in bed one night and wrote the first chapter.
Things got busy, we moved, and I couldn’t give attention to writing. Eventually, we wound up in our current city, in my present job.
My wife found a writers workshop online and encouraged me to enroll. It was super cheap. (Crazy cheap.) And so, I enrolled.
The class loved the first chapter of the novel and wanted to hear more. So, I carved out time to sit an write for a few hours each day—and all day on my day off. In two-and-a-half months, the novel was complete.
I shared it with a few friends (friends who read and enjoy good fiction), receiving encouraging feedback. But, I know better than to trust my friends to tell me the truth. I had met a professional writer and editor, who I hired to provide feedback. He liked it and offered great feedback.
In the meantime, I had also written a novella and two other (still incomplete) novels. (The professional editor also enjoyed and helped strengthen the novella.)
Then church-conflict and the death of my father-in-law hit. My capacity for creative output shriveled. It’s been two years since, and I’ve written almost nothing in terms of fiction—though I keep saying I’ll get back at it.
Around the same time, an author-friend passed the novella along to his editor at a publishing company. She reached out to me, stating that she had read the novella, enjoyed it, and really wanted to publish it. Together, we worked up a proposal for her teams. She presented to one group. We waited. Then another. We waited. Over time…well…nothing happened. Eventually, my emails weren’t even returned.
But the interest had encouraged me. As a friend told me—sometimes God gives us a taste of what we want, not to expose an idol, but to confirm a desire he’s given us. That seemed to be the case.
I persevered in contacting editors and agents. A friend put me in contact with his agent, and I sent him some material. He said he’d read it, but I never heard back.
A year or so later, another friend received her first book deal. Her agent (who happened to be the same agent) asked for recommendations of authors he should consider. She recommended me to him. I sent him some stuff (the same things I’d already sent!). This time, he read it and passed it around the office. They loved it—it was the kind of fiction they enjoyed reading. Unfortunately, it had two fatal strikes against it. It wasn’t Christian fiction—and they ran in Christian fiction circles. Worse yet, no one knows who I am, so no one would look at it.
That was a year ago. Fast forward to today.
Like I said, looking back at that night I wrote the first chapter, or when I nervously walked into my first writers workshop, I would have never dreamed what God would be doing with it in 2019.
What is God—in his infinite kindness and unending faithfulness—doing with it today?
The manuscript is saved in my Dropbox. A printed copy is in my bedside table drawer. I haven’t looked at it or worked on it in years.
I still desire to write fiction. I still love that story, and I intend to finish the others. But, it’s going nowhere, as far as I can tell. It’s an entirely unfulfilled dream.
And you know what?
God is just as kind and faithful to me in my unpublished-fiction-writing-status as he would be if it were Oprah’s book-of-the-month.
And I am just as #blessed.