The Author’s Stir Fry

ACFWAdvice, Authors and writing, Encouragement, Faith, writing 5 Comments

By Kathy Maresca @so_tweet

Have you ever taken a look at a menu and asked the server to hold a particular ingredient? Sometimes it’s possible, but other times the mix has been prepared and cannot be separated. Let’s consider a stir fry entree. It’s nutritious and well balanced, looks fabulous and smells great. But the sensational Asian spices, rice, chicken, red peppers, and onions are tossed in with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. I don’t like the last two ingredients, but I love the first five. Perhaps I need to choose something else from the menu.

What does stir fry have to do with writing and publishing? It’s how I have come to view the world in which a novelist lives. It’s a menu that offers aromatic and tantalizing entrees, but the deals are premixed. Authors might like several of the ingredients, but the business of publishing is a package containing things that challenge many creatives.

Business. It’s about recordkeeping, dollars and cents, advertising, and selling. In the publishing world, business means query letters, writing back cover copy, marketing, and entering literary contests. For small independent press authors, the marketing can become daunting. Balancing social media with posts about our projects can be tricky as we try to promote our novels and show interest in other people and their projects.

Authors sometimes grow weary. A year after my debut novel had published, I was ready to quit writing. I emailed my agent to let her know. My second novel had been under contract eighteen months, but it had not been published. Publishing has grown more complicated than I could have ever imagined. Some small presses are experiencing more than their share of challenges. For me, the fun of storytelling became overshadowed by business.

Discouraged, I took a look back at my initial goals for Porch Music. What were they? I wanted to write literary fiction with a Christian message. Southern gothic, dialect, literary fiction, and told from several points of view. My own stir fry. What I had hoped for, back in the early days of writing, was critical success. As my novel began to achieve literary awards, I was both humbled and ecstatic. By the grace of God, I had met my goals. But my cooktop had run out of gas, and the wok had grown cold.

The publisher who held the contract for my second novel graciously returned its rights to me. My agent asked me to make some changes. It is easy for me to see how her suggestions will make the manuscript tighter. But in spite of my prayers and the encouragement of friends and readers, the pilot light was still out. I needed fuel.

What does stir fry have to do with writing and publishing? It’s how I have come to view the world in which a novelist lives. It’s a menu that offers aromatic and tantalizing entrees, but the deals are premixed. @so_tweet #publishing… Click To Tweet

Cold and only partially cooked, my stir fry sat on the stove, reminding me that I needed to finish the job. How long, I wondered, could I leave the entrée on the cooktop before it began to rot? In the midst of my wanting to quit, the Christy Awards called my name. Porch Music was named as a Christy Award finalist, giving me the fuel to light my cooktop. I began to edit my second book. Again. My confidence has been restored.

Approximately thirteen years ago, my ideas for Porch Music began to find their way onto paper. I wrote about a family descended from the Seminole Tribe, like my family. A family who, one by one, turned to Jesus. I was too close to the story, so I put the novel away for almost ten years. During that time, the Lord knew the desire of my heart. And He helped me, day by day after I pulled the manuscript out of the closet and put it on the cooktop. Word for word, He helped me.

Just like God is in the details of our lives, His love is in every ingredient of the publication stir fry. From the first word to the launch of a book, the Lord is with us. If you have become discouraged, I ask you to consider John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Our work of Christian fiction has a sweet-smelling aroma, pleasing to the Lord. Brothers and sisters in pens, let’s keep that cooktop warm.

After working as an editor and a teacher, Kathy Maresca earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counselor. In addition to helping people who have disabilities, Kathy has been a Guardian ad Litem and a volunteer for a prison ministry. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Keith. They enjoy traveling, gardening, and spending time with their dogs. Visit Kathy on her website or Fiction Finder.

Comments 5

  1. I’m glad you found just the right combination of ingredients and temperature to bring Porch Music to fruition. I loved it! Looking forward to your next book whenever that may be according to God’s timing.

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