Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Miracle Notebook, Part 2

Here's the conclusion of the story I started yesterday:

The drive home from the conference took a couple of hours, and something interesting started happening in my heart and in my mind. Recently, I had been trying to sell my work in the secular market. But years before, I had been aiming for the Christian fiction field. I started to remember with great nostalgia the Christian conferences, the Christian editors. Oh, I got rejected there, too—but at least the people were kind. At least they provided fellowship and spiritual support.

I remembered a couple of rejections on my current novel that said it was “too traditional,” or something similar. Did that mean too Christian? Could it possibly be fitted for a Christian market? I could hardly believe it, but within two hours, I was already thinking of trying again. Could it be that instead of telling me to quit, God wanted to redirect me? To direct my path?
I prayed all the way back to my neighborhood, and when I was almost home I made a decision. One more try. I would do some rewriting on this novel, try it in a Christian market, and let God show me once and for all whether this door in my life had truly closed.

I stopped in a Christian bookstore close to my house. I hadn’t read Christian fiction for awhile and didn’t know who was publishing what. I browsed and looked at the prominently displayed fiction, the bestsellers, the ones that seemed closest to my writing. That’s when I took out the notebook.

I had bought this cheap little thing at the last minute to take notes during all the wonderful sessions I planned to attend at the conference. So it was, of course, blank. Now, on page one, I wrote down two authors’ names for future reference. One of them was Terri Blackstock. I didn’t buy anything that day, but soon afterward I started reading her books. I was impressed not only by her work, but by how far Christian fiction had come since I last read it. I felt encouraged to start my rewrite.

Not too long after that, my husband returned from a trip to visit his family in another state and asked, “Have you ever heard of Terri Blackstock?”

Dave had told a friend of his family about my writing woes, and she mentioned she knew Terri, who might be able to give me some advice. To make a long story short, that’s exactly what happened. Terri read a sample of my work and encouraged me to keep going. She suggested I might need an agent to help me find the right market, and she referred me to someone. I signed with an agency a few months later.

Now, does this story have one of those magic happy endings, in which I sign a contract and become a best-seller overnight? No. Things have still been agonizingly slow. In fact, it's been about four years since I signed with that agent. But God has provided the strength and direction to keep me going and wait for his timing.

I had frankly forgotten about the notebook until one day when my patience was once again wearing thin and I was starting to question everything. I pulled out the notebook to scribble down a phone number or something trivial, and there it was on the front page—Terri Blackstock’s name. Written as I stood in that bookstore on the darkest day of my writing life. Written at the very time when I wanted to quit. God knew things were moving when I thought everything had come to a crashing halt. He even had me write myself a reminder of that fact!

Sometimes I take out this notebook and look at it, just to remind myself of his love and his presence. And when things feel so unbearably slow or uncertain and I can’t feel anything happening at all, I think about the notebook and ask myself, “I wonder what He’s up to today?”