By Ruth Douthitt
Recently, I had the privilege of hearing agent and writer, Karen Ball, speak at a small writers conference in Phoenix. I didn’t really want to attend the conference. I haven’t written much these last few months and had no desire to write anything in the near future, but I felt the Lord leading me to attend…so I did.
At the conference, Ms. Ball spoke about the writing process, how to “show and not tell”, and how to write effective dialog. It was a very helpful conference. I was able to pitch my latest story to her and received encouraging feedback.
But it was what happened after lunch that really made the conference special. Karen is one funny lady! She has so many witty stories and anecdotes to tell, but after lunch, her tone changed. She told us that she felt led by the Lord to no longer address the agenda, but instead to speak about the call to write. That’s when I sat up and truly paid attention. She spoke from the heart and with deep emotion. You see, Ms. Ball is dealing with her father’s cancer. It hit me hard because I had lost my sister to cancer months earlier.
The Struggle is Real
As I listened to Karen speak about how to carry on and write through grief and pain, I knew then and there why the Lord had me attend that conference.
I was struggling with whether or not to carry on as a writer. My desire to write had dissipated over the last few months. When you watch a loved one die, it changes you. But the Lord spoke to me through Karen’s words of encouragement. She spoke to many hearts that day. So many writers are struggling in similar ways: When to write, what to write, how to make time write, and why write at all? Is it worth it? What if you never land an agent? What if you never sell a story? Or hold your book in your hands?
I could see all the worry in the people’s faces and so could Karen. She encouraged us to listen to her advice. She encouraged us to remember why we write in the first place: To further God’s message of the gospel in any way that we possibly can even if our story is about a boy and a dragon in a forest. We write because God called us to write our stories down. Not for our glory, but for His.
“And if God gave you this story, then you have to write it down!” Karen challenged.
I hope He is speaking to you, too. If He gave you a story and called you to write, then write you must! I know it isn’t easy when those words of doubt creep into your mind, but you have to shut them out.
I drove home after the conference feeling renewed. That passion to write returned. I talked with the Lord about my story all the way home and I thanked Him for Karen. Her honesty and her transparency helped many writers that day.
If you are struggling as a writer and writing has called your name, you must write and work through those obstacles. God allows those obstacles in our way to make us stronger. Someone out there needs your story no matter what genre or point-of-view it is. Your story can help someone.
And isn’t that what writing is all about? When writing calls your name, nothing in this world can stop you. You must tell your story.
Ruth A. Douthitt is a writing teacher and author of five books for middle grade readers. She is currently working on her first women’s fiction novel. She lives in Phoenix with her husband of 27 years. Her books are available on her web site. http://thedragonforest.homestead.com/HomePage.html