Please welcome this weeks guest Natalie Monk for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
“He hath made every thing beautiful in His time…” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Sometimes the writing journey is wonderful.
Other times we writers shove our foot onto the brake pedal and ask ourselves if the endless hours we spend drafting, rewriting, editing, marketing and networking are really accomplishing anything. This is especially true for those of us still unpublished.
It’s usually during these “Woah, woah, wait.” times when God reminds me to take a minute and look in the rear view mirror. Then He shows me where I started and how He has brought me to where I am now.
I polish the rear view mirror with my sleeve, and the first image I see is my chubby, awkward self at fourteen, drafting my first horrible, episodic, one-dimensional attempt at historical fiction. Other sporadic story starts and unfinished manuscripts soon followed.
The image blurs, readjusts, and I see me in 2010, reading my first short story to a friend who glances over it, then asks, “What’s the point, again?”
Another image appears, this one from a year later when I finally commit to the writing journey, thanks to my biggest cheerleader, Mom. J
I believe it was Pablo Picasso who said, “I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” That was my approach.
After making this commitment, I “happened upon” a terrific writing blog (more like God said, “Natalie, look at this. No this. Hey, hey. *snap* Right here. Yes. See that?”). This fabulous blog was Seekerville, whose friendly, straightforward approach to writing and rescuing writers stranded on “Unpubbed Island” helped me learn a phenomenal amount about the craft in a very short period of time. There, I met two wonderful ladies who would eventually be my critique partners. It was also there I learned about the American Christian Fiction Writers, which has been invaluable in making connections and learning through courses and critique groups.
The mirror fogs and clears to show last September, when my furious keyboard clacking until 1 and 2 a.m. in the spare-room-turned-office finally culminated in finishing the initial set of rewrites for my first novel. God blessed with connections to local writer’s groups and conferences, even scholarships to online classes. Last year my writing won several awards and caught the attention of agents and editors.
Sunshine beams from behind a cloud and glints of the mirror. When it disappears, I see the blog page I read a couple months ago, where an experienced author advised, “It’s never too early to start a speaking schedule.” A week or two later, I received a Facebook email invitation to speak at a women’s conference and had the most wonderful time sharing with them, though I’ve always been a shy person and not much for public speaking. It was God. Just God.
Now I think to the present. I have a complete novel with many reader friends asking when it will be available.
This month, I’m participating in Seekerville’s Pitch Perfect contest and am biting my nails until May 31, hoping to pitch to my dream agency. I’m still praying God will match the right agent and publisher with this story, but in the meantime, I’m learning to give Him the keys to my writing “vehicle” and enjoying the ride.
In June, I look forward to attending my first local writer’s conference. (YAY!)
I’m still trusting God for the future, knowing that He will indeed make “every thing beautiful in His time.” I can’t wait to see what other roadside surprises God has planned on this exciting journey of writing by faith.
Do you ever have moments where you reevaluate your pursuits? How does God get your attention and encourage you to keep pressing on?
Natalie writes both historical and contemporary romance. She is giving away a free short story to everyone who signs up for her e-newsletter. To sign up, click here: http://sweetsouthblog.blogspot.com/2014/05/free-short-story.html
A farm girl from the time she could shimmy under a string of barbed wire, Natalie Monk is an award-winning author of historical romance spiced with southern humor and small-town oddities.
She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and has completed her first historical novel about a logger with an alcoholic past who battles a powerful rumseller to win back his temperance activist sweetheart…before she can up and marry his brother.
Natalie is a homeschool graduate from North Mississippi, a piano teacher, part-time portrait photographer, certified wedding planner, and devotional speaker. She loves sweet tea, reading, girl talk (usually about books), porch swings, and watching old movies with her family.
Kristena Tunstall says
Natalie, thank you for being on my site and sharing your writing journey with us. You have a powerful story and I’ve been blessed by reading it.
Natalie Monk says
Great to be here, Kristena! So glad you got a blessing! God sure has been good! 🙂
Kristena Tunstall says
Yes He has!
Courtney Phillips says
I love this–and I’m not just saying that since we’ve become friends in these past few weeks.
I am an impatient person. Impulsive to a fault. If I decide I want something, I will drive myself (and others) crazy until I obtain it. God often has to grab my shoulder and say, “Hey Courtney, don’t forget me. Don’t forget who you say you’re writing for.”
I wrote a sweet scene last night about one of my characters coming to know Jesus…and I realized THAT is what this is about–Jesus and his relentless grace. I get anxious over contests (especially Perfect Pitch), but ultimately I’m trying to remember God knows what’s going to happen next. He knows. And I don’t have to. Not yet. His Will, not mine.
Anyway, I’m praying for you on your journey, Natalie!
Natalie Monk says
Oh, Courtney, thank you so much for your encouraging words! It’s VERY hard not to be anxious, but He’s on the throne. I have to be reminded of this constantly. 🙂
Praying for you, too, Courtney!!!
Really enjoyed this post Kristena and Natalie.
As one of Natalie’s critique partners, I’ve had the privilege to read her novel and I definitely see God in it. It’s wonderful how God is working in her writing at such a young age. He’s still working on me, but He uses us all.
Kristena Tunstall says
Elaine, isn’t it awesome when we can see God at work in both our own lives as well as those around us. It’s a beautiful thing.
Pam Hillman says
Enjoyed reading about your writing journey, cuz! 🙂
Missy Tippens says
Great post on your journey, Natalie! I look forward to watching what God has in store for your writing. Thanks for sharing, Kristena.
Myra Johnson says
Thanks for sharing your journey, Natalie! I especially love how your mom encouraged you. Family support means everything! Best of luck in the Pitch Perfect contest!
Darlene Panzera says
It was very nice to meet you here Natalie! Your story about God’s presence in your writing journey is very similar to mine and it was great to hear how he touches others the same way. Be encouraged!