Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Writing Through Tragedy By Faith by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

So many people say that writing is therapeutic. For years I worked a full-time job and managed a schedule of writing in my spare time, as well as being a mother to a special needs child and a wife. I agree that writing is therapeutic, but this past year, I have been tested on that concept. Back then even though my schedule was quite hectic, I still had no deadlines or pressure to promote book sales. In spite of the fact that I longed for publication and worked hard to make it happen, a tiny piece of me feared the day it would happen.

You see, I knew my responsibilities would grow, and I was right.

For my debut novel, Highland Blessings, my book launch went well. I received favorable reviews, had several book signings, and it won the 2011 Holt Medallion Award for Best First Book. Still, I didn’t have many deadlines since the book was already written when we contracted it. The only deadlines I really needed to worry about were the macro edits and copy edits.

A year later my second book, Highland Sanctuary, was set to release. When I signed the contract, only the first three chapters were written. A few months before my book launch, my father-in-law’s health began to decline. He was dying of lung cancer. At about the same time, we learned that my mother had a very aggressive breast cancer. While Hospice came in to help my mother-in-law, my mother was going through surgery and a month later began radiation treatments.

Two weeks before my book released, my father-in-law passed away. Our family was grieving, and I still worried for my mother. By this time, I had signed contracts for four more books and two novellas. I ended up missing a conference where I was scheduled to speak and a major book signing where I had done well the year before. I got behind on blogging, emails, social media posts, and campaign mail outs. Four weeks after my father-in-law passed, I became very sick. A month later my daughter was hospitalized at fourteen for severe migraines. Six months later, she began having Tonic-Clonic seizures. We began a long series of MRI and EEG testing, and medication trials and adjustments. She could no longer be alone and we began fighting the school system to make sure she received necessary resources for her safety. Through all of this, I had to keep working my full-time job and writing to meet my deadlines.

When you sign a contract for an unfinished book, you are signing your name in faith that you will be able to meet your obligations, regardless of the circumstances that might befall you and your family. In a regular job, you might have someone cross-trained to back you up when you are out to keep your company from getting behind, but an author doesn’t have that luxury.

I don’t have answers that will work for everyone, and at times, I don’t know how I did it. All I know is that prayer and faith gave me strength when I had none. When worry wanted to consume me, God prevailed and I was able to find a few moments here and there when my characters took me to another place in time. I mentally escaped.

  • When I couldn’t sleep, I wrote.
  • When I couldn’t concentrate, I put on earphones and lost myself in music that helped me escape to my time period.
  • When I was too tired to write, I slept, and ignored the guilt.
  • When my house became too suffocating, I went outside and wrote.
  • When my desk became the wrong place, I changed my environment by writing in the closet in the wee morning hours, on the steps, and wherever I could find a corner.
  • I didn’t worry about edits, writing with perfect research, or getting it perfect. I merely wrote and concentrated on getting the first draft down.
  • When the pain and confusion was too much, I prayed and cried out to God.
Remember, God is THE answer to everything—even writing through tragedies.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning multi-published author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, won the 2011 Holt Medallion award for Best First Book. Her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.

Jennifer's fiction is represented by Literary Agent, Terry Burns with Hartline Literary Agency.

Path of Freedom (1858, North Carolina)
Quilts of Love Series, Abingdon Press
Tentative release date: Jan 2013

When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother’s quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery.

As they begin their perilous journey, they hope and pray that their path is one of promise where love sustains them, courage builds faith, and forgiveness leads to freedom.