What got you started along The Writing Road?
When I was thirteen years old, I wrote a poem on the bus on the way to school. It was about an old tree, forlorn and desolate, standing alone in a field. I read that poem at every recess, tweaked it, polished it, and for the first time, felt the thrill of how the written word can convey profound beauty. That day, I fell in love with writing.
Shortly after that, I told my mother (with all the angst of a newly-turned teenager), “I will just die if I don’t write!” So naturally when I grew up I decided to get my degree in Chemistry. And, oddly enough, I didn’t die. I enjoyed chemistry. But always that desire to write was with me, in the back of my mind, saying “Someday, someday.”
Someday finally came. I started writing articles for various magazines and putting out proposals for book projects. I thought it would be easy to get my first book published, but alas, it took years of writing and honing my craft (6 years, in fact). And more than that, it took giving up my dream entirely. For me, I had to come to a place in my heart where I didn’t have to write to be content. I had to let go of that strong desire born at thirteen years old and embrace God’s will for me whether that will included writing or not. Only then, only when my dream had given way to God’s, was I offered a contract by Crossway Books for my first published book, Cry Freedom, in 1999.
What are some obstacles for you along The Writing Road?
Early on my Writing Road, my biggest obstacle was wanting it too badly. Our culture tells us to pursue our dreams, reach for the sky, dream big, nothing’s impossible if only you try hard enough. Sounds good. But for me, that philosophy was deadly. I needed to completely surrender my dreams in order to live God’s. It was like ripping out part of my soul. But it was worth it. Now, when I write, it can be an act of worship and obedience, instead of something that’s all about me and my dreams.
And yet, these days, I find that self-doubt is my biggest obstacle. Every time I start a new book, I find myself muttering “What was I thinking?!!? I can’t write this book! Why did I ever think I could do this?” Right now I’m at the beginning of a new book, so of course all those doubts are raging. But this time I’m reminding myself that this always happens. I just need to push through, do my best, trust God, and the story will come.
To Be Continued!