What do you imagine when you hear the word “writer?” An artist with her head in the clouds? A man cackling away while he writes about the Cracken taking down a Martian fleet of aliens? Or just a person who likes to share information, stories, ideas, or humor? Perhaps all the above and then some. I’ve always loved reading. One day my husband said, “You read so much, why don’t you write?” So I tried it and loved it. Like many, but not all writers, I wanted to share what I wrote. And that meant being published.
My Life as a Reporter
Before Covid caused the death of many publications, I enjoyed free-lance writing for The Good News newspaper, and later, magazine. It covered most of upstate New York’s religious communities, churches, ministries, Christian camps, and even colleges. Although the editor gave me two to four assignments each issue, I was not his employee. I simply wrote the articles and he paid me. Technically, I could have refused an assignment, but never did (or would). And I could never claim “writer’s block” with an approaching deadline!
I learned to bring in an assignment within the word count (750 to 1000 words). I included everything in the first draft and then pared it down to the essentials before submitting. Editors are fussy about word count because they have only so much space. Some will chop off your best stuff from the end of a too-long piece!
One of my favorite assignments was covering an all-day seminar featuring Andy Crouch (author, editorial director of the Christian Vision Project at Christianity Today International, producer, editorial board member, etc.). He quoted a person who said journalism was “making something complex clear, quickly, for someone who has other things to do.”
I loved that. I distilled the seminar down to its basics, by deadline, and hopefully made it so interesting that readers couldn’t put the paper down, even though they had long to-do lists.
Crouch spoke about culture, and I have a signed copy of his book Culture Making. I wracked my brain for an opening line that would grab the reader and came up with, “Defining culture is like nailing jello to the wall.”
I will always relish writing non-fiction.
How I enjoy a well-written novel! Experts advise writers, “write the kind of novel you would like to read.” And so, many genres and styles abound. Creatively, it’s the wild west out here.
While perfectly happy in the non-fiction world, I decided one day to write a short story. I missed writing dialogue, telling a story, and creating scenes (in literature, not real life). I wrote a novel back in the 70s. It lies in the closet where it belongs. Instead, I started a short story based on a “what if you ran things, what would you do with”…question. I soon discovered the story arc, that grand overall, character changing tale, was far too large for a short story. So, in a burst of ignorance, I began Chapter One of a prolonged backward novel birth. For five years, I wrote my assigned articles, blogs, a few devotionals, and now and then returned to my novel in progress. As I wrote by the seat of my pants, it grew arms and legs and took on its own life, until the day I thought I should self-publish it. Frankly, I wanted closure and left it to God so I could get back to free-lancing.
My title proved prophetic
The Divine Meddler is about a father who assassinates the man he believes killed his daughter. It was pre-meditated, and he tells everyone, including the judge, that he did it, was glad he did, and would do it again. That does not go over well in Texas and he is executed by lethal injection.
You’ll have to read the book to discover how he did not die, but awoke in one bizarre, medieval style monastery, full of monks and other “executed” murderers. The overall theme of the book is one of redemption, and my protagonist discovers the ways God is meddling in his life to bring him to salvation through faith in Jesus.
And then, God did the same thing to me! Just as I was preparing to explore self-publishing, events re-connected me to a dear friend who had moved away a few years ago to carry on in his world of business. Turns out his new world of business includes publishing.
I used to laugh and say if God wanted my book published, he’d make an acquisitions editor blow a tire in front of my house. Editor would then ring my doorbell, call AAA, and gladly read my manuscript while waiting for help. But the Divine Meddler (AKA God) did me one better. He sent a dear friend, who listened to my plea for advice on self-publishing and said, “send me the manuscript.” And so, The Divine Meddler will be released on June 24th by ddbliss publishing.
God has a sense of irony
I‘d told my friend, editor, and publisher rolled into one that I had considered self-publishing because I did not want an agent or publisher to hound me for more books at my age. He still chuckles about that as we discuss books two and three of The Divine Meddler’s Trilogy. Hopefully, the second book, Sheol Rising, will be released in February 2023.
I’m pretty sure God is chuckling.