Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why Each Book Is Harder by Sarah Loudin Thomas

My first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, hit bookshelves in 2014. My fourth novel, The Sound of Rain, hit bookshelves last week. Which means I’m practically a veteran author, right? Ha!

Having several novels in print is a dream come true. Of course, turns out there’s more to it than simply lining books up on the shelf.

People have read and reviewed my books, which is alternately gratifying and horrifying—one-star reviews anyone? While it's SO wonderful to see readers comment on the very themes I hoped were somewhere in those pages between the pretty covers, there are also readers who just don’t LIKE my stories.

Each time I write a novel, there comes a point when I've written, edited, re-edited, and combed through the words to the point that I'm not sure what's in there anymore. And it makes me wonder if I dare turn loose of the story for fear the plot has gotten away from me.

Which is why it can be so hard to relinquish each successive story. I keep wondering if the story communicates what I hope it does. Did I get the message in there? Will readers love the new characters as much as the old ones? Having gotten some feedback on earlier books, I now have an idea about what's appealing to readers. Did I still capture that in the current story?

I didn’t expect these doubts. Which is why I like to get a start on the next story before the current story releases. I want to write the story God places on my heart rather than being influenced by what I think readers want.

And there's the hard part. It's not about me. Each time I let go of a book, I do so knowing I've grown the best book I can from the seed God planted in my heart. I've nurtured and watered and pruned (oh, how I've pruned!). And those glorious lines that might capture people's hearts? If there are any, they're the ones God whispered in my ear. Trying to come up with anything else on my own would be foolish.

So as each deadline approaches, I pry my fingers off the digital pages and hit send. I'd say I give my stories to God except that they’ve always been His. He's just been letting me hold them for a while. And that is more than enough for me.

How do you handle your fears over writing the next book?


Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Sarah and her husband Jim now live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Her fiction has won the Inspy Award, the Selah Award, and has been nominated for the Christian Book Award and the Carol Award.