Last week, I had the pleasure and honor of teaching at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, hosted by an organization called Word Weavers. Writers from several states and even Canada came to hear speakers, meet with editors and literary agents, get inspired, and learn how to get published. As I talked with other writers about their hopes and dreams, I remembered my very first conference and my own journey to publication—and it was a long one! From the time I first put a sheet of paper into my typewriter (yes, a manual typewriter!) until my first book was finally published, the journey took eleven years.
Not everyone dreams of being a writer, but I firmly believe that God has planted a dream in each person’s soul that fits them perfectly. You are created for a purpose, something only you can accomplish for His kingdom and His glory. One of the biggest obstacles I faced in becoming a published author was the same one that many of us face: FEAR. What if I wrote for years and never got published? What if I was no good? What if people laughed? I was so afraid of failing and of being criticized that I didn’t tell anyone but my husband that I wanted to be writer.
One day during my quiet time, I realized that my fear was killing my dream. If I really trusted God and His plan for me, I needed to bring the seeds of my dream into the sunlight and nourish them so they could grow. I had to risk calling myself a writer.
Not long afterwards, I was busy writing one Saturday morning while my children played nearby and my husband taught music lessons to a parade of students. As one young student waited for his turn, he wandered up to me and asked what I was doing. I hesitated. Should I admit to this 16-year-old stranger that I wanted to be a writer? I decided to set aside my fear and trust God, so I replied, “I’m writing a novel. I’m a writer.”
“That’s really cool,” he said with a huge grin. “My mom is a writer, too. You should meet her sometime.”
I was speechless! When I finally could talk, I asked, “What does she write?”
“We’re Christians,” he said. “She writes devotional books for Moody Press in Chicago.”
The following week, the student’s mother came to his music lesson with him. And from that day on, this gifted Christian writer, Alma Barkman, took me under her wing and mentored me. I lived in a city of more than 300,000 people, yet God had brought a published Christian author right to my doorstep and into my life. I wonder where I would be today if I had been too fearful to call myself a writer?
One of the first things Alma did was invite me to her writers’ critique group. Again, fear nearly defeated me. How could I possibly read my feeble work to other writers and risk criticism? No way! But when I set aside my fear, I quickly discovered how helpful it was to have unbiased readers critique my work. Alma also told me about writers’ conferences like the one where I taught last week, and she accompanied me to my very first one. Twenty-seven published books later, I am still grateful to Alma, and very glad that I didn’t let fear stop me from pursuing God’s dream for me.
If your dream is to write, I urge you to look into the Word Weavers organization and find a local group of fellow writers near you. (www.word-weavers.com) We all need companions and mentors for this journey. But whatever your God-given dream is, (and I know it’s one that fits you perfectly!) please don’t let fear hold you back a single day longer. Ask God to give you the courage to bring your dream into the sunlight where it can grow. I promise you, God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20)