Friday, June 18, 2010

Potholes and Detours by Virginia Smith

Last month, author Virginia Smith joined us on Writer’s Journey Wednesday and talked about her three-step revision process. She joins us this Fortifying Friday to share experiences on her journey to publication. Get out your pen and paper!

Potholes and Detours

My twenty-year road to publication was long, and twisty, and full of potholes and detours. I collected an astounding pile of 143 rejection letters before receiving the contract for my first novel. Many times a rejection would hit me like a brick through the windshield, and all I wanted to do was abandon the road and find another, one that was easier to travel.

Now that I’ve got a few books under my belt, I can see something that was hard to understand at the time – nothing that happened to me on that winding road has gone to waste. Every experience served a purpose, even the ones that seemed to be complete detours on the road to publication. All our life experiences combine to mature us as people, and mature people can become mature writers.

My corporate job gave some terrific experiences that have showed up in my books. I once worked with a man in Florida who trained people to test computer software. He’d say, “If a programmer tells you he programmed the computer to do this, don’t believe him. Test it. Don’t take anybody’s word for it. You can believe your mother – but check her.” That always made me laugh. Several years later in Murder by Mushroom, I wrote a police detective who was teaching a younger officer to interrogate witnesses. He said, “You can believe your mother – but check her.” When my former co-worker read that book, he was delighted. He emailed me, absolutely tickled. “I’m in your book!”

Another life circumstance that ended up in my books was one of my bosses. He was the most controlling, micro-managing individual I’d ever met, and working for him was incredibly frustrating. When I wrote Third Time’s a Charm, the third book in the Sister-to-Sister Series, the lead character has a boss whose behavior is very similar. I was able to write that book from an extremely personal perspective, and it brought the character’s struggles to life.

So I’ve learned that everything along the road in the journey of life – every pothole and detour and sightseeing opportunity – can serve a purpose in my writing. I’m comforted by the fact that the Lord knows exactly where I am on the road, and sometimes I can even hear Him whisper, “Grab your pen and take notes. We’re going to use this someday.”

Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen Christian novels and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes fiction in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her newest book, A Daughter’s Legacy, is a romance novel set in a zoo. Ginny says the research was a lot of fun, even if she did have to clean up after a lot of animals. Which, she says, wasn’t all that different from her job in the corporate world.

Learn more about Ginny and her books at
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