Writing Update

I am two and a half weeks away from the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference. Last year when I went to the conference for the first time–my first ever writers’ conference–I submitted my novel to an editor who said it was too “edgy” and “not suitable” for the publishing house she represented. I’ve since learned that “Christian” novels have to be “squeaky clean.” My, there is a lot to learn in this business of writing. (People who know me well probably can’t imagine that I’d write anything but squeaky clean, but that just goes to show how little “reality” is allowed in these houses.)

In the past year since I started considering an actual career in writing I have learned sooo-oo much! It has been an extremely exciting journey.

Of course, now I have been working on figuring out how “edgy” my book is going to be and I have been looking at other Christian novels (I confess I don’t often read Christian novels) to see how they do it. Maybe this is the time to admit that I don’t really like Christian novels a lot and so you are probably wondering why I would write one. Well, I thought The Shack was kind of original, although I don’t really like the spin-off theology, as in ‘imagine your God to be whatever works best for you.’ I also liked John Grisham’s The Testament, and I liked Have a Little Faith, by Mitch Album. OK, these are not “Christian” books, maybe not even “Christian” authors. And so maybe I shouldn’t be looking at a “Christian” publishing house.

I thought I might write an enjoyable romance that just shows normal Christianity without being preachy. Not that this hasn’t been done before. But for some reason I have not found these books. I believe that there are a lot of people out there, who, like me, are looking for good values and a sprinkling of spiritual content in their reading.

I also wanted to see if I could set my story in a church and give people an idea how churches work. That is turning out to be difficult, especially since the way we are ‘doing church’ is often not really very effective.

As an update, I had my first ten pages edited for the second time and came away discouraged over how little I know about how to write a novel. Novel writing is very different from writing a blog, believe me! A friend of mine told me I need to have a ten year plan, and that helped. I’m not going to learn this in a day, or a year for that matter.

At the same time, it can be thrilling when I finally “get it.” I’m getting better at “showing” versus “telling” so things are looking up. There are actually a number of things I am doing right.

A big problem has been understanding my POV–point of view. For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, I will explain what I have been learning about POV in another post. Suffice it to say, you need to have one “point of view” character at a time, and nothing gets put on the page that the POV does not know. It’s not as simple as it sounds.

One of the hardest things for me has been to know where to start my story. I imagine a couple of people, like me, might not know that it is actually a good idea to start in the middle, not tell the story from beginning to end, chronologically. This means that there is a lot of “back story” that one needs to weave into the “real” story. Another big learning curve here. (I know you seasoned writers are probably rolling your eyes now in disbelief, but hey–we all start somewhere.)

This book was completed last year, and, naively, I thought it just needed a little editing. But now it looks like it needs a major engine overhaul and there are days when I wonder if it is worth it, especially when I would much rather be blogging. =) Maybe I am a “non-fiction” writer as opposed to a “fiction” writer. They really do seem to be two entirely different animals!


17 thoughts on “Writing Update

  1. Seems like you’ve already got a good handle on what you need to do next. One thing I’ve learnt is that fiction and non-fiction are often the same animal, dressed up in a different coat. All of us have great stories to be told inside of us, but we don’t recognize them because we think of them as, “that time we were stuck at the lake and there was a family fight” or, “that time I tried to run a pretzel business and failed MISERABLY, but ended up meeting a lifelong friend.” Inspiration is everywhere. 🙂

    I’ve been interested in writing short stories before, but never novels. Don’t have the attention span for them. Maybe when we meet up next I could grill you for all your sweet, sweet writing tips!

    • Maybe I should look at my novel as a series of related short stories. I’m not sure if it’s a short attention span for me or a lack of patience. I like to wrap things up quickly. Have I told you your writing inspires me? It’s true!

  2. POV makes me absolutely crazy! Best of wishes for the conference. Learn lots! I’ve got a novel on the back burner, too. POV has kept it there for a couple of years! I feel your pain. 🙂


    • I also do this thing called, “putting one character’s thoughts into another’s head.” Actually I thought it was rather clever…apparently not.

      I will learn this. I just have to keep at it.

      I’m excited about your novel. Hope we’ll be seeing it before long!

      • Ooh, I don’t think I’ve tried that one yet. 🙂 Sounds like I shouldn’t, eh?

        The way this year’s going, I may not have time to finish the thing before the Second Coming!

        Have so much fun. I pray the Lord grants you favor with a publisher!


      • “She could see his curiosity was consuming him.” is an example of what not to do. That is putting one character’s thoughts into another’s head. I think I do that a lot.

        Thank you for your well wishes and prayers!

  3. I suspected that novel writing was no easy adventure. If you have the passion to pursue it, then I think you’ll get there successfully. You are miles ahead of me; I’m still enjoying blogging too much to get serious about a book – except maybe a poetry one.

    Warm wishes for your success at the conference ~ Wendy

    • Your blog is so beautiful, Wendy! I enjoy it so much, I wouldn’t want you to change a thing. Maybe one day you will turn it into a collection in a book.

      Thank you for your encouragement and warm wishes!

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