Welcome to Fortifying Friday, the day we provide opportunities for authors to share their personal journeys to publication. It’s a way for us to see and acknowledge the different paths God has uniquely chosen for each of us. Today, we celebrate with author Olivia Newport on the release of her debut novel.
My Journey to Publication
By Olivia Newport
“Did you always want to be a writer?” I suppose many writers hear that question. I consistently answer yes. Stories spun in my head when I was young. Words danced in my dreams. Teachers affirmed that my writing distinguished me. My classmates voted me “most literary” in the eighth grade!
But life got in the way. First there was higher education. Believe it or not, academic life—even as an English major—squelched creative output. Fear shot through me. I would never produce anything that would stand up to scholarly scrutiny, so maybe it was better not to try.
Then came the challenge of financial independence. I could not simply collect my degree and put out my hand for a royalty advance. I had to live on something other than a secret talent.
I married. I had kids. Regular life stuff happened—some of it joyful, some of it painful. The impulse to write stirred inside me, but I had to make a living.
In these years the blessing of work came through jobs that valued my ability to smith words. I wasn’t writing novels—despite the stampede of characters in my head—but I was learning to write for a purpose, write to a target, and write under schedules. Now I look back and see that real life became a laboratory of words.
I was writing. Organizational newsletters, departmental reports, business project proposals, fundraising letters, ministry annual reports. I was striking out the passive voice, clearing clutter words, discovering the right starting point, weaving in emotion, getting to the point. Even though my name did not show up in public ways, I was writing. I’m a better writer because of those years.
Eventually I did write novels—I have the stack of manuscripts to prove it. These stories were not ready for publication, but they were not wasted effort. Pages sequestered in black binders at the back of my closet whispered to me that I can finish a novel. They nudged me along the path toward my own future. After years of writing whatever an employer assigned to me, I was ready to put my heart into my own stories.
Jesus lived in obscurity for most of his life. When the time was right, he stepped into the purpose God planned for him. I ponder that often lately. With the release of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, I hold the culmination of my own years of obscurity and the result of all the experiments in my real-life laboratory.
No piece of writing is wasted, even if it does not see publication or does not bear a writer’s name. Life that seems to get in the way of writing actually informs a writer’s capacity to express the creative gift and step into the purpose God has planned.
Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and two twenty-something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.
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