Friday, July 9, 2010

Remember Who You’re Writing For by Carla Capshaw

Last week Carla Capshaw shared her article, “Taking Your Setting From Static to Fantastic.” She returns today to share a few lessons she learned on the way to publication. Thanks, Carla!

Remember Who You're Writing For

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” ~ Colossians 3: 23

Whether it’s coincidence or providence, I’ve been asked several times in the last few weeks what I’ve learned since I sold my first book. Of course, there are tons of things such as: what it’s like to write on deadline, how nerve-wracking it is to send your little baby, er, story into the world all alone, or that doing promo for said sold book takes nearly as long as writing the thing. :-D I’ve learned about target audiences, how to read a royalty statement, and that no one cares if you work a day job, have bird flu, a dozen kids and a house to clean, you still have to get words on the page.

Amidst all the chaos, it can be easy to forget why we began writing in the first place. Worse, as a Christian author, it means we can sometimes forget Who we write for.

A few years ago, I almost quit writing. My first reading love was Historical Romance, so that’s the genre I was drawn to, to write. I’d had about as much success as an unpub can have without selling. I’d won tons of contests, signed with my dream agent, and been told by several top editors they loved my work. Still, I hadn’t sold. I began to wonder if I’d missed the Lord’s will for me somewhere along the way. Was I supposed to be spending my time on something else? Instead of all those hours at the computer maybe I should be with my family, focusing on my career or just catching up on my sleep. ;-)

So, like any Christian striving to make the Lord’s will first in her life, I prayed. Not that I hadn’t prayed before, but this time I recommitted my writing to the Lord, put all my hopes and dreams in His hands and said, “Do whatever You want with them.”

Literally, the next morning, while I dressed for work the plot of my first sold novel, The Gladiator, came to me. I’d always loved ancient Rome, but I’d never thought to set a story there. The hero was an ex-gladiator who had everything he thought he wanted until he met his heroine, a Christian girl he bought from a slave trader. It wasn’t too long after that I learned Steeple Hill was launching an Inspirational Historical line and I got to mix my love of Historical Romance with my biblical beliefs. This time around, the manuscript did well in contests and eventually sold. When it was published two years later, I was blessed by readers who wrote to ask me how to become a Christian or to tell me how the story had brought them closer to Christ.

Needless to say, I was thrilled. And along with all the other lessons I listed in the first paragraph, I relearned that when the Lord’s in charge of my efforts not only am I blessed, but more importantly, so are others.

The reality is we have to focus on the Lord, to remember that all we do is for His glory. When I get overwhelmed, I remind myself that He won’t give me more than I can handle and that He’ll get me though everything He’s called me do. We don’t actually write to sell, final in contests, get our work in front of a certain editor or target audience. We write because all we do is supposed to be for Him.

How about you? Is there something in your current work-in-progress that you’re struggling with? What lessons has the Lord taught you along your writing journey?

Florida native Carla Capshaw always dreamed of being a writer and world traveler. She followed her wanderlust around the globe before beginning work on her first novel. A two-time Rita nominee, she's found Inspirational Historical Romance is the perfect vehicle to combine lush settings, vivid characters and a Christian worldview. Currently at work on her next novel, she still lives in Florida, but is always planning her next trip . . . and plotting her next story. Carla loves to hear from readers.

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  1. A wonderful mentor once shared with me about laying our tools down before God periodically and asking which ones He wanted us to pick up and use. It was when I laid my all before Him that He was able to bless me and my career. Because of that, I've never had a doubt that I was in the will of God. It's an excellent reminder, Carla, thanks.

    The Bible says God gives us the desires of our heart, meaning He puts those dreams within us. It's up to us to fulfill our potential and do it to His glory.

  2. Carla,
    Good post. One thing I've learned is how faithful God is to guide me through the writing difficulties. Times like too many interupptions. Times when ideas won't gell. But on my knees I find peace and strength to work through these problems.

    Linda Ford

  3. Well this is a post to print and put up on your bulletin board. Take your hands off your journey and just follow the path.

    I am delighted that such a great writer and nice person is a DOUBLE RITA finalist.

  4. Hi Carla, Your blog is hitting me right between the eyes . . . I'm on Chapter Six of book #13. If anyone had told me ten years ago I'd be working on my 13th published book, I'd have fallen over with gratitude. I don't ever want to take this wonderful opportunity for granted. It's not always fun to get up early to write, but it's always rewarding when we do it out of love.

  5. Hi Cher, Linda and Vicki! Thanks for dropping by today. I love hearing about the lessons you've learned. All good things to take in and ponder.

    Tina, I love it. "Take your hands off your journey and just follow the path." Brilliantly said. I'm posting *that* on my board. :-)

  6. For me it's a constant, daily thing, to turn my writing and career over to the Lord. It's so easy to get caught up in who received the latest contract and who's getting the better reviews.

    But it's so important to remember that if we write for Him - and focus on that - He will do what's best for us and our careers. In His timing.

    Thanks, Carla, for sharing your story! :-D

  7. Carla -- What a wonderful blog message. Love how The Gladiator came to you.

  8. Thank you Carla, for this post. It's good to stop and remember occassionally that amidst the doubts that plague us, we must remember to wait on God's timing

  9. So true, Winnie! It's easy to want everything now or think we're missing something in times of calm.


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