I struggled with writing my first novel, Eve of Awakening. God gave me the initial premise of the book when I was about 24 years old, but I didn’t write it until I was 28. I had about 20 pages of the first draft completed when my pastor did a sermon series on Noah. He encouraged all the church members to change something about their life for 40 days that they knew God wanted them to change.
Some people quit doing something for 40 days–overeating, smoking, drug use, pornography, overspending, etc.
Other people pledged to doing something for 40 days–exercising, saving money, reforming lost relationships, thinking positively, etc.
I committed to writing on my first novel for 40 days and wrote half the book. It would only take me a few months more to finish it. It was just after the New Year almost 8 years ago that I finished the first draft, and I so expected God to open the floodgates of publication right away. Nope.
It was funny. After I finished the book, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to push it aside. I couldn’t understand why because it was a miracle that I had even written it! Every time I tried to send my book to agents, I knew the Holy Spirit was telling me that my efforts would be fruitless.
God led me to a writers’ conference several months later, and my book was denied by every one. I wrote about an advanced society that seemed foreign to people, but 8 years later with the changes in technology (texting, Facebook, blogging, etc.), my book doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.
The rejections I received were devastating, and I thought God had broken my heart. It would take many years for me to realize that it was my own expectations that broke my heart. God had promised to publish my book, but His timeline was never clear to me. I think if I would have known how long it would have taken and how much I would have to change, I would have admitted defeat before I ever began.
I finally set my book aside and began writing on my blog, Faith Imagined, and serving in women’s ministry leadership. God allowed ministry to transform me and then He called me out of it. I had three small children, and God wanted me to focus on the ministry of motherhood.
About five years after I wrote my first draft, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to enter my manuscript into a writing contest. No I did not win, but winning wasn’t the point. God wanted me to edit my book. Writing my book in the first place had been such a stretch for me that I told God that He would have to bring me someone to edit my book. Little did I know that God was shaping me into that editor.
I started editing three months before the contest deadline, and I became overwhelmed with how much work needed to be done. I thought I would be doing some simple changes, but instead I was rewriting the entire book. Finally, I only had 10 days left, and I was not even halfway done with the edits.
I’m not going make it, I told God. But He had no sympathy for me.
I opened my Bible and read, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12.5 NIV).
There’s no way I can finish in time! I yelled. God said nothing, waiting for what I would do.
I sat down at my laptop, bowed my head and prayed this prayer: “Holy Spirit, there is no way I can finish these edits on time without Your help. You will need to tell me exactly what to cut, what to change and what to add. I don’t have time to wrestle through these edits. I need supernatural help.”
And for 7 days the Holy Spirit was like a drill sergeant over my shoulder. Since I had three young children, I would write early in the morning, during nap time and late at night. I finally finished, and I whittled down my book from 145 thousand words to 85 thousand words. Although, it would take several more rewrites to complete the novel to what it is today, that time of edits was the most important.
After I had sent the novel off to the contest, I remember talking to God about how disappointed I was in my first draft. I was so impressed at the time I wrote it, but as I grew as a writer, I could see how much work my first draft needed. I wondered why God would have me write it at 28 when I obviously wasn’t ready. I still needed much growth as a writer to be ready for publication.
God gave me an image of a person plowing a field for the first time. He plowed one field. Then he plowed another. Then he plowed several more fields until he finally came back to the initial field he had started with. He had to go back over his work on the first field because it was wasn’t plowed correctly.
WIth that image God said, “If that man hadn’t plowed the first field, he would have never learned to plow the other fields. You must start in your weakness, so I can train you in my strength.”
I realized that if I hadn’t written the first draft in my incompetence, I would have never started the journey to writing well.
We must all start somewhere, so we might as well start now!