Please welcome this weeks guest Bonnie Doran for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
After I moved to Colorado, I learned somehow (God’s providence) about the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC). Through this conference and others, God developed my writing skills. I sold a few magazine articles. I met an editor who gave me seven-devotional assignments for several years.
The road took a sharp turn when I attended a workshop entitled “Write What You Read.” I’d always heard, “write what you know.”
I hated his answer. “I don’t know. Should you?”
I pitched the novel to various editors and agents. By the time I did that, however, the market that had been so enthusiastic about young adult sci-fi dried up. I kept pounding on that publishing door but God had locked it.
Then my critique group challenged me. “You should be writing adult fiction, not young adult. Why did you choose young adult, anyway?”
I dragged my toe through the dirt. “Because it has only one point of view and it’s shorter.” (Neither is true.)
So, through the wisdom of many counselors (God again), I took a fork in the road to switch to adult fiction but had no idea of what to write. I “happened” to hear a radio news spot about a pastor that had been caught in adultery. It made me mad. It also started my imagination churning. What if the pastor had a son? What if the son were really mad? Mad enough to unleash a biological weapon?
The story morphed into a multiple-POV science-fiction novel called Dark Biology.
God slammed the door on writing devotions when the editor I’d worked with stopped attending CCWC. That was God’s way of telling me to concentrate on fiction.
I met with a bunch of editors and agents. No one wanted science fiction.
An editor suggested that the novel was really a science thriller, since it was set on Earth and the International Space Station in the immediate future. That genre was a lot more appealing to the publishing industry. I finally emailed the manuscript to an agent one day before the next conference. After two years, I couldn’t face him again with “I’m still working on it.”
At that conference (2012), I met with an additional agent and three editors. All of them wanted to see the full manuscript!
I sent the manuscript out. After several months, the agent wanted to sign me. Wow.
But wait. There’s more. Two weeks after I signed, one of the publishers offered a contract.
That’s how God led me to Steven Hutson of WordWise Media as my agent and Harbourlight (Pelican Book Group) as my publisher.
I’m happy to say that my first novel, Dark Biology, was published in October 2013.
I admit I envy other writers who’ve traveled a shorter track to publication. One friend attended her first writers’ conference and walked away with an article request from Focus on the Family Magazine. Several others finaled or won major publishing contests. Another friend sold 90 books in one book signing while I’ve struggled with selling one or two.
It’s easy for me to look at someone’s writing path and be jealous. But by wishing I had someone else’s path, I’m telling God I don’t like the road he personally chose for me.
I’ve discovered that God’s used experiences before I turned to writing, things I thought were off the right trail. In some cases, I took a fork in the road because of disobedience. In others, it was God’s leading at that time in my life.
He used my interest in science during college to help me with writing Dark Biology. Of course, all I could see at the time was that I was below-par in my physics class. Maybe I was a little less nervous when I had those radio interviews because I’d had my own radio program for eight months. Perhaps the attention to detail that I used as a bookkeeper has helped me keep track of sales taxes.
I believe God has used my background regardless of my attitude at the time. I keep wishing He’d speed up the process. I guess I’m a slow learner.
Bonnie Doran’s heart is in science fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and Sudoku puzzles. Her husband of thirty-one years is a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet. They share their Colorado home with two Siamese cats. Her debut novel, Dark Biology, released October 25 from Pelican Book Group.