Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My writing journey has been a wonderful, God-directed time in my life. Whether I am writing, teaching, editing, or coaching other writers, I know I am where God wants me.

When my first opportunity came to teach at a national writers’ conference, I felt a little overwhelmed. But I realized that God was opening doors that I needed to obediently walk through.

Standing in front of “my” class, teaching the things that were so exciting to me, I was focused and energetic. Although normally shy, I can communicate with my class in a way that is concise and organized and explain the material in an understandable way. I had progressed from only helping those in my own community to helping new writers from all over the country. And I have felt God’s direction every step of the way.

Eric Liddell spoke to his sister in the movie Chariots of Fire. He addressed her concern about the Olympics interfering with his missionary career in China. “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure,” he said.

I may not run. But when I write and invest in the lives of other writers, I definitely feel God’s pleasure.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I have always loved to write. However, my college creative writing professor discouraged me from writing.

“You have a really nice handwriting.”

Those were the words penned on my college creative writing assignment, the assignment I had worked so hard on, the assignment I just knew my professor would recommend for submission to some really big, high paying publication.

But all she said was that my handwriting was nice.

The power of words.

Mrs. Griffith’s words were positive. But the effect those six words had on the dreams of this aspi
ring writer was devastating.

For about fifteen years after that I wrote only for pleasure or as a volunteer, accepting assignment after assignment for my church.

And then I heard six more words – “Why not give it a try?”

My husband had watched as I developed writing skills writing church histories, newsletters, directory copy, signatures for special edition Bibles. And one day, pointing out to me that I was already writing a great percentage of my time.

At that time I had no idea how to begin writing for publication. I looked for books on the subject but at that time there were not many. I studied the course catalog at local colleges. No courses that could help.

Not long
after that my neighbor came over. “I’m going to a writer’s conference,” she said. “Why don’t you go with me?”

A writers conference? I didn’t know what that was but it would be fun to spend some time with my neighbor/friend so I agreed to go.

That conference changed my life. I met writers and editors who were genuinely interested in helping me learn the craft. I sold an article to HomeLife. And I received an assignment for a series of devotions. And these editors were going to pay me for my writing!

I have never forgotten the power of words. Mrs. Griffith’s words that were so discouraging. My husband’s encouraging words. The words of the HomeLife editor – “That story really touched me.”

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as
a writer)?

Hmm, I think that is a lifelong process for writers. Once we reach a certain level of confidence we hear a new critique and find new areas to work on.

For me, as my writing skill level has increased, my confidence has increased. Teaching across the country, I recognize the need to continually learn and grow as a writer. So I study and attend workshops to keep current on the writing trends.

Just yesterday as I was teaching in Decatur, Illinois, I realized how my confident level had increased a little more from the last time I taught. I pray that I will teach with confiden
ce but have a sincere empathy for new writers and a desire to help them along on their writing paths.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I write constantly from the time I get up in the morning until bedtime and sometimes during the night. Every time I walk by my computer it beckons me to sit down for a while! However, writing is not just sitting at the computer. I believe the writing process continues when I am doing other things. When I exercise, walk, cook, or play with the grandchildren, I have some tidbit of thought going on pertaining to writing. Sometimes I even give my brain an assignment for while I am sleeping!

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

Swimming is a great way for me to get away from the computer and have some physical exercise and fun. When I swim laps I am still outlining and writing in my head so when I return to the computer I feel refreshed and often have a new angle for what I am writing.

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?

I read so much it’s hard to pick one. I love Gilbert Morris, Francine Rivers, and Brock and Bodie Thoene’s writing. Recently I read Slow Burn by Mary DeMuth. An excellent read! The thing I look for in a novel is good writing and entertainment. I want to become so absorbed in a story it lets me escape for a few minutes!

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

To write well you must recognize good writing. So it is imperative that writers read the classics as well as the stellar writers of today. As you read
good writing, you learn the techniques of making words effective.

Tell us a little about your latest release: Mommy Pick-Me-Ups.

Written with the busy mom in mind, Mommy Pick-Me-Ups encourages moms through brief spiritual encounters to keep their faith alive and renewed. Moms need lots of refreshment and the brief, lighthearted and relevant- to-mom stories will help lighten the load change the way moms interact spiritually with their children.

Where did you get your inspiration for Mommy Pick-Me-Ups?

My coauthor and I were sitting in the Denver airport waiting on time to board a plane. We had about two hours and needed something to do. I suggested that we write a book while we were sitting there. As we talked about the things we had in common, we kept going back to motherhood. We both enjoyed raising our children but we also recognized that in some ways it was a very difficult time in our lives when we needed a little extra encouragement. Our prayer was that we could give that to other moms through this book.

What are some of the special challenges mothers face, and what encouragement would you give to new mothers?

I think one of the greatest challenges moms face is balance. Many moms are not only balancing the responsibilities of motherhood and a household but also working outside the home. That leaves little time for spiritual focus. But with a book such as Mommy Pick-Me-Ups mothers can find a few moments a day for refreshment and refocusing.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

Even though being a mom can be tiring during the early years, motherhood is one of the best gifts God can give a woman. Times can be difficult but hang in there; those times will pass quickly. Enjoy every moment with your children and make lots of memories. When you are having a bad day and you think it will never end, know that it will. Even if everybody goes to bed grouchy, tomorrow will be another day and you can start all over. Above all, find a few moments each day to spend with God. He is the source of all encouragement and pick-me-ups.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Currently I have several books under consideration at various publishers. Hoping for new contracts soon. :-)

Do you have any parting words of advice?

I would like to borrow a few words from William Zinsser:

Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this is a consideration in moments of despair. If you find writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.
It’s one of the hardest things people do.

May God bless each of you as you seek to reach the world with the message God has put in your heart!
Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from Mommy Pick-Me-Ups by Linda Gilden.


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