Friday, May 25, 2012

Lessons for the Journey by Courtney Walsh

One of the many great things about belonging to a community of Christian writers is that people are willing to mentor and help others who are traveling on the road to publication. We don’t have to go it alone. Today, author Courtney Walsh is here to share some things learned on her own journey. Enjoy! ~ Dawn

Lessons for the Journey
by Courtney Walsh

At first glance, it seemed like my writing journey was going exactly as I’d planned. In the fall of 2008, I attended my first ACFW conference. By December, I’d signed with the agent of my dreams. By the following spring, I had a three-book deal writing books that combined my love of Small Town, USA, with powerful stories about forgiveness and a happy little twist of scrapbooking all into one neatly designed package.

I was on my way. Living the dream. Everything was coming up roses.

How naïve of me to think that this was the hardest part of my journey.

For some of us, we wait years for our first manuscript to be sold. For others, we agonize for months over whether or not an agent will represent us. For still others, we get to watch on the sidelines as God uses the things we want most (a career in writing) as a teaching tool.

And we all know that sometimes, being a student can be difficult.

My first book, A Sweethaven Summer, was finally released in February of this year.

And boy, was it a learning experience. I’ve discovered there are three things every writer should know as they set off on their journey, and if these are embraced, they can separate you from the masses.

Lesson One: Be eager to learn.
As writers, this is absolutely imperative at every single point of our careers. Whether we’re just starting out or we have twenty-five books in print, learning—and a desire to learn—keeps what we do from getting boring. It keeps us from getting stale. More importantly, it makes us easier to work with.

Lesson Two: Be flexible.
Throughout this journey, my publisher has gone through some major transitions. As a result, I’ve worked with three different editors (all wonderful) and my release dates have been changed more than once. My own plans have gone awry more times than I can count, and through it all, I’ve been reminded time and again, to stay flexible. You cannot worry about things that are out of your control. Expect change. It will happen whether you want it to or not. Turns out, getting the book deal is only the beginning…

Lesson Three: Be willing to work.         
I sometimes say if I’d known how much work this was going to be, I may not have had the courage to go forward. In some ways, I think God blessed me by revealing things in steps and only as I needed to know them. From editing, to marketing, to connecting with readers, to making sure every bio online is actually about you…a writer never really stops working. The bottom line—no one cares more about your career than you do. No one else has the same kind of passion to see your book succeed. So you have to channel that passion into hard work.

If you aren’t willing to put in the time at each step of the publication process, you can’t expect great results.

I believe wholeheartedly that writing is a rewarding, wonderful endeavor, but that’s not to say it’s going to be easy. Regardless of where you are on your journey, allow it draw you closer to the One who gave you the desire in the first place. Whatever you’re believing for—an agent, a contract, a certain number of copies sold—hand it over to Him. And continue to look for the lessons in the journey. 

Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooking designer, theatre director and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, will be released in February, 2012 by Guideposts/Summerside, followed by two additional novels in the series. She has also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper and is currently working on her third, The Scrapcrafter’s Idea Book (F&W Publications, August, 2012.) Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum, newsletters and other publications. She has also written several full-length musicals, including her most recent, The Great American Tall Tales and Hercules for Christian Youth Theatre, Chicago. Courtney is a member of ACFW and is the current PR Manager for Webster’s Pages, a scrapbooking company. 

To learn more about Courtney and her books, please visit:

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