Monday, October 5, 2015

Redirected by Annette M. Irby

Direction signs against the sky*

So, you’ve been writing for a while now. Perhaps you’ve studied a specific genre. I’d been reading and writing Christian romance for years. I specialized in this area in acquisitions. When I tried to read other genres, I quickly grew bored. Romance was my chosen genre, and I didn't see that changing.

Then, a character appeared in my head, demanded her story be told—first person, present tense, no less—and showed me the romantic thread. Um, excuse me, Character, I write romance. You know, where the romance is central. Not. A. Thread. She wouldn’t budge. My first person, single POV story didn’t fit into the usual box, the only box I ever thought my writing would belong in—romance. But this character had a message. A woman’s fiction-type message.

So I was redirected into another genre. At least for that manuscript.

This summer we spent a couple of Mondays here at SW exploring how our message is our “other” writing voice. Sometimes, as life happens, “stuff” happens. Sometimes we are so indignant by an injustice or a victim’s plight, etc., that suddenly that message gets into our fiction. A rom-com becomes a moody, heavy general fiction title with a sharp point. We’ve been redirected.

A friend of mine experienced a major life event that redirected her from writing historical fiction into memoir! She’s hoping to return to fiction when her non-fiction wraps up.

And sometimes, the redirect is (*gasp*) away from writing into family care, or your own health issues demanding attention, time, and mental space. That’s okay. There are seasons. The key is to recognize when God is redirecting and respond as He’d have us do.

Sometimes redirection results in life lessons. I know someone who used her writing life to boost her sense of self. She pined for publication because that would validate her hours of investing in the craft, and her talents. It would validate her. When God directed her to consider giving up writing, even for a season, her heart ached because she’d been sinking her hopes for the future into her writing efforts. She’d found comfort in her cozy den with her invented characters and her dreams of book deals. She'd made God her number one priority, keeping Him first, worshiping Him, communing with Him. Still, writing had become a type of idol. Should we stop dreaming? Should we stop writing? Or inventing characters? Not necessarily. Depends. Is God redirecting you?

We writers find a chunk of our identity in our writing lives. True? That’s not all bad, but that means there’s a lot at stake if we’re redirected or blocked, or there aren’t any contract offers.

Question for you: Has there been a time when God redirected you? Tell us about it, and we’ll encourage each other.

Carry on, friends!

Her Nerdy Cowboy

Whoever heard of a bookish cowboy? When Logan McDaniel’s brother-in-law dies, he steps in to help his beloved sister run her ranch. But what does a city boy know of herding cattle? Claire Langley loved her cousin. After he dies, she agrees to serve as a temporary nanny for two heartbroken children. 

Claire and Logan find they share a love of books, and Claire can’t resist the nerdy uncle who is great with children, and who reads to her of pirate romance. Claire’s ailing mother needs her in Seattle. Can she break away? And if she does, can there ever be a future for Logan and her?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby has three published books and 
runs her own freelance editing business, AMI Editing
See her page here on Seriously Write for more information.


*Photo credit: "Curved Road Traffic Sign" by Stoonn at


  1. Annette: God took a season of burnout and turned it into a bend in the writing road -- and that's how I came to write fiction. I was a nonfiction writer and editor who said she'd never write fiction! And now, four novels and three novellas later, that part of my life along the side of the road, and I am a novelist. That -- writing nonfiction -- was who I was. This -- writing fiction -- is who am I am. And now I am asking God what story does He want me to write next. And listening, listening for His answer.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Beth. I've enjoyed reading your fiction. What a switch! Sometimes God lets us get burned out so we'll have what a pastor friend calls "holy dissatisfaction." That feeling leads people to look around, ask where God might be trying to lead. I know He's done that in my life too. Happy writing... and listening. :)


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