Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reaching for the Prize

Last summer, I got breathtakingly close to a publishing contract for my novel - my book made it all the way to committee. I was thrilled! Sort of like all of those awards show speeches where they say it's an honor just to be nominated - and it is - but c'mon, don't we really want to make it all the way to the stage, take hold of that trophy with both hands and bring it home?

Well, this wasn't that time. The publisher had a lot of good things to say about my book, (and if he's reading this by any chance, I thank him heartily!) but in the end, it just wasn't a good fit. In the end, the novel was a little too edgy for this particular Christian publisher, too risky to be commercially successful in that particular market.

While I was disappointed, it still was an honor to be nominated. (And it didn't hurt to get those nice compliments either!) Maybe I'm foolish, or just Jersey stubborn, but I walked away from that rejection with a renewed resolve that had little to do with sales and much to do with what I'm supposed to be doing.

I believe in meant to be. Firmly. And I don't believe I ended up in this genre by accident. Commercial or not, this is what I want to write - what I feel called to write. I want to write about real women with real problems - the women who perhaps have come to believe that they are too broken for God to fix. The ones who are too embarrassed to show up at church because they believe that they're wearing their sins on their sleeves. The ones who struggle to make the right choice, yet often make the wrong one. The ones who won't pick up novels about perfect people because the anguish between real life and perfect fiction is almost too much to bear. The ones who have a hard time finding themselves in the pages of a Christian novel.

Maybe it's an occupational hazard. As a school counselor, I tend to be a champion of the underdog. Or maybe it's because I walked away from my own faith in college, and it took me nearly twenty years to find it again, and most of my life to discover that the most amazing thing that Christianity has to offer has nothing to do with churches or perfect people, but with a one-on-one, personal relationship with God, which is available to anyone - anyone - who will just reach out and take it.

And so, with all due respect, and apparently a tremendous dose of naivete, I plan to keep writing about women who don't believe they have the right to reach out and claim that prize. And, I still hold out hope that someday, a real woman like me (and like my agent, who continues to champion this book, God bless her) will pick this book up and decide it belongs on a shelf somewhere. Bound, and with an ISBN, imperfectly real for all the world to see.

Because when I bring that trophy home, I want it to be for the book I was meant to write.

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