Please welcome this weeks guest Elizabeth Kitchens for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
But if writing is a curse, then I’ll happily live with it. Actually, what my father was referring to when he called writing “the family curse” was the frustration that happens when you’re a writer and you’re not writing, and the emotional devastation of not seeing your publishing dreams come true. The lack of major publishing credit in my family meant that the time my writer ancestors spent writing was wasted and should have been used in some more profitable way. That was the implication anyway, but God calls us to write, not necessarily to be published, or to have the same level of worldly success as others, but I digress.
Growing up, I wasn’t distressed by my father’s pessimistic attitude toward writing (neither was he, since he still writes). I didn’t like writing. I was quite happy to avoid it like Aurora did the spinning wheel. I hated all those “me” papers we wrote in school—the favorite vacation, favorite memory, etc.—and when we were encouraged to write fiction, I could never settle on a storyline although I could daydream all day long, and frequently did (including halfway through a vocabulary test once). It wasn’t until high school, and then college, that I began to feel a strange pull toward writing. For some unfathomable reason, I enjoyed writing literature and science papers.
These strange revelations and a few flattering comments on my writing abilities I carefully buried in a secret chamber in my heart, for I wasn’t supposed to like writing and I certainly could never hope to make anything of it. Then the light of optimism, err, that glowing orb that was to lead Aurora to her doom, burst into my little chamber. One of my friends actually believed that she—and I or anyone else who wanted to—could be a published writer! I was flabbergasted. An ordinary person like her and like me become a real writer? Weren’t we fated for disappointment?
While God was planting these little ideas in my head, He handed me a job right out of my master’s program that left me extra time during the workday to spend how I pleased. Faced with mounds of free time and no homework for the first time in nineteen years, I began filling myself with stories—reading classic novels, young adult fantasy, and inspirational fiction along with watching more of my beloved black-and-white movies and BBC miniseries. My optimist friend even fed me with her favorite children’s picture books. As a consequence of that, and a lower stress level, my daydreams began to take shape, and I would work on them, often while I was doing the dishes, until I had long bits of story and unique characters.
Then, when the time was right, an idea presented itself that I thought would work for a children’s book that I could write and my friend illustrate. It was around the time of my twenty-sixth birthday. I was getting older and my life was dull so I needed something to tell my grandkids—an attempt at publication would be just the thing.
When I started writing I felt the prick of the spinning wheel’s spindle. Yet instead of falling into an enchanted sleep, I woke up, or you might say I fell into a dream. For the first time, I made sense to myself—the way I thought and the way I daydreamed so much. I felt I had a dream worth the effort of pursuing, and pursue it I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and I devoured blogs and books on craft and publishing. I took an online writing course, joined American Christian Fiction Writers and a critique group. Sadly, I was soon forced to admit that my original 5,000 word story wasn’t going to bring me fame and fortune. Since my writing wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it was, I learned more and made it better (a continuous process).
About three years, two short stories, two novellas, and one full-length novel later, I had one novel ready to show the publishing industry. Unfortunately, no one wanted it. Granted, I had only used about half of the oft-cited 30-odd tries to get an agent or editor, but I was impatient. My friends were asking when they could read it, and, to be honest, I’ve always wanted to make money outside of a traditional job. I had also applied to a doctoral program; book contracts and editing deadlines did not look appealing when viewed from the perspective of a graduate student.
I prayed about traditional vs. independent publishing, and things seemed to point to the latter. That was a prick to my pride, but as a wise friend said, “It’s not the only book you’ll write.”
She believed I would finish more books!
And that they could catch a publisher’s attention.
That settled it for me. I am now an indie author with one book published—about the enchantress from Beauty and the Beast—and a second novel almost finished.
The night after I learned I would write this post, one of the day’s scripture verses from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling struck me as being appropriate for my writing journey. After all, for most of my life I had no serious thought of writing, and especially not fiction.
“Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT
I love being a writer. I love the friends I’ve made, the new stories forming in my head, the joy of having put them on paper, and the encouragement and confirmation God is faithful to send when I need it. I even like reading about writing and marketing! But I never dreamed I’d be a writer. That I would get to produce the kind of godly entertainment I enjoy so much.
Elizabeth Jane Kitchens loves tales of romance, adventure, and happily-ever-afters and strives to write such tales herself. When she’s not thinking about dashing heroes or how awesome bacteria are—she is a microbiologist after all—she’s probably photographing flowers, telling people she’s crocheting not knitting, or talking about classic books and black-and-white movies. Elizabeth is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in the beautiful, green South.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethJaneKitchens