Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A few weeks ago, another author asked me if I had a story to tell about the role dreaming plays in a writer’s career. Do we keep pursuing a writing dream no matter what? Is dreaming for dreamers only, or is it part of a writer’s toolbox? 

Like many aspiring writers, I had a dream agency and a dream agent in mind years ago. I’d watched the way the agent conducted herself at conferences, in business settings, and in social settings. Her responses to questions on agent panels were always from a perspective that positively dripped with wisdom and grace. But her client list was full—the bane of many an excellent agent. I waited…and watched other agents. But the dream for that particular agent and working within the highly desirable community of that agency wouldn’t go away. 

For our 35th wedding anniversary trip, my husband chose Alaska. I wanted to vacation in the tropics. When I discovered a writers’ conference connected with an Alaskan cruise, it seemed to symbolize 35 years of marital compromise! I didn’t know at the time we registered that my dream agent was celebrating her 35th anniversary on that same cruise.

The agent and her husband were not onboard for the conference. They were true tourists. But she graciously agreed to take a handful of appointments one afternoon. She listened to my pitch and said something like, “Interesting. Now, let’s see if you can write.” Her client list was still full, but she invited me to submit a proposal.

A year later (2008) she still had no openings. I prepared to attend the annual ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference, wondering if it was time to give up my dream agent. Was God asking me to pursue another path? I wondered if He was even asking me to lay down the idea of writing fiction at all. I’d been working at it seriously for six years with no book to show for it. I told Him, as sincerely as I could, “Lord, if this pursuit isn’t from You, I will set it aside.” 

It seemed a moot point if I was about to turn away from fiction to other writing interests, but I emailed my dream agent and said, “I need to know if there’s any hope of signing with you so I know how to direct my energies at the conference.”

Her response? She called me to say, “I don’t know what to do with you.” It’s not exactly what I hoped to hear, but it wasn’t “No.”

She may not remember the conversation, but I recall every word. “You’re a good writer, but I promised myself I wouldn’t take on any more unpublished novelists. Go to the conference and look for another agent. If no one snatches you up”—I chuckled at that line, too—”call me after the first of January and we’ll see if I’ve had any client slots free up.”

I knew I had to be obedient to God and do due diligence. So I requested an agent appointment and an editor appointment at the conference. The agent appointment went so horribly, I was certain God was directing me to give up fiction forever. But I danced out of that appointment because I knew I’d just been shown who I shouldn’t work with as my agent. 

The editor appointment went shockingly well. Goosebump well. I had a request for the proposal. The dream stirred. What if God didn’t want me to lay aside the dream of fiction writing, but plunge deeper in? 

I sent the proposal (still wondering if I was days away from walking away from fiction), and within two hours received a response from the editor who asked for the whole manuscript. Within a month, the editor was taking the project to committee.

It seemed appropriate to call my dream agent and inform her about the development. Her words? “We’d better get you signed up then!”

My dream agent has become a dream friend and invaluable partner in this amazing journey. Days away from surrendering fiction, I signed my first contract. In May of 2014, my eighth book releases—All My Belongings, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly—with three more novels contracted. “So far,” she said, dreamily.

Where do dreams fit in the life of a writer? For me, it seems God won’t let me pick it up and run with it unless I’m first willing to lay it down.


Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. Her novels have been recognized with honors from RT Reviewers’ Choice, Retailers’ Choice, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice, and others. Her debut novel was a 2010 Carol Award finalist. All My Belongings is her newest release, the story of a young woman who discovers a new life and new identity can’t protect her from a past that refuses to go away.  

Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her books at www.cynthiaruchti.com. Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (cynthiaruchtireaderpage) or follow her on Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).  


  1. Such a great article, Cynthia, and so timely for me. Thank you!

  2. That's beautiful, Cynthia. Lay it down. Thank you for being so honest ... for being real ... revealing the hard and the good. That is encouraging. I had no idea that agents had a certain number of clients ... can't go over that number, etc. Congratulations on the success God has given ...

  3. A story that encourages! Thank you!

  4. So glad God didn't let you walk away from that dream. The world is a better place because of your words.

  5. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you, dear friend! =)

  6. What a beautiful, encouraging story. I am so glad you held on to all of your dreams!

  7. Lovely, Cynthia! You have the gift of encouragement, and I'm so thrilled I've been on the receiving end of that gift many times now. Thank you for this. I have a dream stirring in my heart, but lately I've questioned whether or not my dream will ever be fulfilled. I'm laying it down at His feet, and if it's His will, He'll pick it up and allow me to fly.

  8. All your comments brought joy to my heart, tears to my eyes, or both!


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