by Elizabeth Musser
In my other life, as a pastoral caregiver to missionaries, I had started an online Skype study with a small group of women from our mission using the Companion Guide to Sharon Garlough Brown’s novel, Sensible Shoes. Although I did not know Sharon personally, since we were both novelists, I got up my courage and asked her if she would be willing to meet with my girls for our last Skype call. Sharon said, “Yes, I’d be delighted to do that.”
I was immediately drawn to Sharon’s depth of character, evident in her writing and life. I had appreciated the introduction into spiritual direction in the book and enjoyed practicing some of the suggested spiritual disciplines.
Sharon and I corresponded a bit over the next months and, at some point, Sharon asked me if there was a prayer group for novelists that she could join—she was new to the whole fiction writing world, having been a pastor and spiritual director before she began writing novels.
I thought this was a great idea, but didn’t know of any such group that existed solely for authors to pray together. As Sharon and I talked, we both felt a stirring in our spirits that this was something inspired by our Lord.
So, I began to ask the Lord to direct me to a few women who would be interested in a monthly Skype prayer group. Because I had lived overseas for thirty years, I didn’t have regular contact with many other Christian writers. But as I prayed, the Lord brought to mind wonderful authors whom I’d had the privilege of meeting in person during my occasional time back in the States.
I thought of Deb Raney who, back in 2006, had offered to be my roommate at a writers’ conference where I knew hardly anyone. (Little did I know that Deb was one of the main organizers of the conference!) Robin Grant, whom I had met at a book signing earlier, also attended that conference.
A year later, in 2007, I had attended a writers’ retreat and met, among many others, Susan Meissner.
I knew each of these women loved Jesus and wanted their writing to reflect Him, but I had no idea if they already belonged to a writers’ prayer group. When I proposed an online monthly prayer call to these four gals, I was blessed by their enthusiastic responses of “Yes! I’m honored to be invited,” and “I love the idea and don’t know of anything like this!” Counting Sharon and myself, that made six novelists, which seemed like just the right size.
We talked about our vision—having a prayer group over skype with the goal being to encourage each other in our spiritual walk and pray for each other and our stories. We didn’t want this group to be about writing techniques or marketing or publishers or deadlines. This would be a safe place for our souls.
We’ve been meeting for three years now. We’ve walked each other through many traumas in our personal lives such as the death of parents, our husbands’ job changes, illnesses, our children’s and grandchildren’s challenges and successes.
And of course, we’ve shared about our writing journeys, encouraging each other to persevere through rejection and disappointment and the crazy demands of social media and self-publishing. We’ve applauded manuscripts completed in time, awards won, and new contracts signed. We’ve laughed at some of our missteps during signing and speaking tours and rejoiced at the love and support our dear readers give us.
The writing life is a roller-coaster ride. What a privilege to have a small group of sisters in Christ with whom we can be real about our fears, jealousies, hardships, successes, and joys.
Our main desire is to help each other keep our gaze fixed on Jesus in the midst of all the twists and turns in our personal stories and the stories we put in our books. It’s a delight to watch the Lord answer these prayers and to celebrate together.
Do you have a safe place for your soul within the writing community?We didn’t want this group to be about writing techniques or marketing or publishers or deadlines. This would be a safe place for our souls. @EMusserAuthor #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #writingcommunity Click To Tweet
Elizabeth Musser writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. For over thirty years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with One Collective, formerly International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.