You may believe that you’re doing all the right things, but feel discouraged because you still haven’t received that elusive call from an agent or editor offering you a contract. On this Fortifying Friday, author Kelly Irvin shares her journey to publication. It’s a wonderful reminder that we need to trust God’s timing—he doesn’t forget us. Be encouraged by Kelly’s personal story. ~ Dawn
My Journey to Publication
by Kelly Irvin
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
I’ve been a writer my entire life: junior high yearbook editor, senior high newspaper and yearbook editor, a University of Kansas journalism school graduate and then a print journalist for ten years. All along the way I knew I wanted to be a fiction writer, but I kept putting it off in order to pay the bills and start a family and fulfill all those other obligations.
I didn’t become serious about my novel writing aspirations until I turned forty-five and realized time continued to slip away. I worked full time in public relations and had two kiddoes in middle school. Still, I knew I couldn’t wait anymore. For the next seven years, I struggled to eek out time each day to write. I attended workshops, joined ACFW, honed my craft, entered contests, and joined a critique group. I wrote four novels. After three years, I signed with literary agent Mary Sue Seymour. Years went by. Still no contract.
Along the way, I prayed and I prayed. I kept telling myself God would hear my prayers. But inside me, a kernel of doubt grew and took hold. How could I expect God to bless me as an inspirational writer? After all, I’d taken a long hike off the path for the entire decade of my twenties. Never mind how hard I tried to be a good wife, mother, and Christian now. How could He forgive me?
Finally, one Sunday in 2009, I sat in my church pew and I told God how exhausted I was. I told Him I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t be a wife, mother, PR professional, and writer, too. I asked Him to give me a sign. Did I keep going? Should I give up my dream?
Three days later Mary Sue called. My inspirational romantic suspense novel, A Deadly Wilderness, had sold to Five Star Gale, a mainstream publishing house that specializes in library quality hardbacks. It was like a big smack on the back of the head. God’s grace covers every inch of me. I can’t earn it and I can never be good enough to deserve it. I can only be supremely grateful for it.
The ruts in the road continue to be big enough to lose a buggy in them, but I enjoy the journey. Signing with Harvest House for six Amish romances was an unexpected and delightful new direction in this journey. To Love and to Cherish explores the theme of forgiveness, something I know about firsthand. A Heart Made New, which debuts in October, examines walking by faith and waiting upon the Lord. I’m blessed to know that these stories entertain, encourage, and edify readers.
As I write this, I discover another truth. Even if I weren’t published, I couldn’t stop writing because publication isn’t the destination. It’s part of the journey. Along the way I’ve experienced pure joy in the writing itself. I’ve traveled to new places and met wonderful people and made great friends I would not have had in my life otherwise. It’s about the writing journey, not the destination. If this can happen to an unruly, stubborn, stiff-necked woman like myself, it can happen to any writer committed to working hard, persevering, and praying. Go forth and write!
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A former newspaper reporter, Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series from Harvest House Publishing. She recently contracted for a three-book spin-off series entitled the New Hope Amish. She also penned two romantic suspense novels. A public relations professional, she lives with her husband, two children, three cats, and a tank full of fish in Texas.
To learn more about her writing, visit www.kellyirvin.com.