My current novel has been one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me.
I have been writing 'novels' and 'books' since I was eight. Back at that time, a book was about fourteen notebook pages long with enormous handwriting and giant illustrations. Thankfully, as my age progressed, so did my novels.
By the time I was eleven, I had written a one-hundred-page-long book. It was about a princess and forbidden loves and long-lost relatives. Battles for justice and what the characters loved most--each other.
But it was terrible. I blush every time I read over it, and cringe at the fact that I shared it with friends and family.
However, by the time I was thirteen, my writing was beginning to even out. I had always been making progress in the right direction, but now, I was actually getting there. I don't believe you ever 'get there' as a writer, as there is always room for improvement, but you do get closer as you write more.
I was fifteen when my parents paid for a couple of online writing courses, and through them, I saw my work transform entirely. One lesson a week, eight weeks, for one course. I was making dramatic progress and was amazed at myself.
At that point, I had written around four or five decent length novels, and had just as many works-in-progress. With each one, I had said that I was ready to publish, but then a new idea would come along that seemed more publishing-worthy than the last. But after those few writing courses, I KNEW that I was ready. Ready to write the story that I wanted to see on a library shelf somewhere.
My only problem: what was the story?
Another thing about my writing back then: I only wrote Christian, historical fiction. I was open to fantasy and dystopian, but never open to contemporary. I saw writing as a way to escape modern life and hop into an entirely different time altogether.
I prayed hard for this novel, as I always prayed for my writing. I asked God for wisdom on sharing His truth and the Gospel through my writing, so that people would see Him in it.
I eventually got an idea. A great one! It was set in the 1800s on the farms of Montana. It was the story of a small-town boy who grew up and left everything he'd ever known because of the tragedies he'd experienced. Both his mother and sister had died, and he blamed it on God while folks told him that God was good and knew what was best, despite his loss. The only thing that Tommy missed, was his childhood, best friend, Maggie. But even she brought him pain. Ever since she was born, the doctors had promised she'd die before she was twenty because of a heart disorder. Yet she praised God through it all.
It was a sweet, feel-good story. It was well written. It shared the Gospel. I loved it! But when it came time to revise and edit, I couldn't do it.
I can't even describe the next part. I had revised and edited a million times before, but now, I couldn't. I just stared at my computer screen not knowing where to go with my work. I spent more time crying at that desk than writing. I thought maybe I needed a break from the story, so I picked up a new idea to work on until I felt motivated to go back, but I couldn't write THAT either! I moved on again, and then back to my original. I went through more ideas than you can imagine and cried more tears than I care to know.
And I prayed a lot. I was beginning to get impatient and even angry. I had dedicated my writing to glorifying Christ years ago. I truly believed that I was supposed to use it to bring Him the praise. So why wasn't He helping me? Why wasn't He giving me the wisdom and inspiration I needed to tell His stories?
I asked Him those questions for a long time, and didn't seem to get any answer. I wondered if this was His way of telling me to just stop writing, and move on to a new plan that He had for me. But I kept trying and failing.
Months passed, and I finally got my answer in a beautiful way.
I met an amazing little girl in a wheelchair with a story that touched me, and continues to touch me each day. The thing is, I am supposed to be in a wheelchair, according to the doctors, but I'm not. And this little girl, was born with the very same birth-defect that I was. We even had some of the same doctors!
A few days later, I knew the story I was supposed to tell. I knew that it was going to be contemporary, even though I hated the idea of it! But I decided to TRUST. Because God had shown me His faithfulness, and I was going to trust that He would do it some more.
I was going to write about a girl in a wheelchair.
I have never experienced a writer's block like the one I just described to you, but I have never experienced an easier rough draft. Those words flew from my fingertips, and the story pulled together easily in my head.
I have been working on that book for around two years now, and still haven't given up. There's no way that I could. God has continued to pull things together for this novel, and even if it never publishes, I know that God has gotten use out of it.
It taught me to trust. To let go, when God says, let go.
I LOVED that first novel I had planned. LOVED. I hated letting it go. But what God had prepared for me to take on next, I love a million times more and I wouldn't trade my experience with it for the world.