Remembering the journey…

A little over a year ago, I attended my first writer’s conference with hope that “Changed” would garner the interest of an agent. Truthfully, it was not a successful venture in that regard, but it did successfully grow my faith. I love  rereading this post and remembering where God has lead me. I am so excited that I get to keep my book exactly the way I want it  and I get to share it with all of you exactly the way it was created…cheesiness and all! Let this be inspiration for anyone who discovers they don’t fit in…I’m not letting that stop me. Don’t let it stop you either!

August, 2011

I entered my first writers’ conference with hope in my heart and an amazing story in hand. Surrounded by fellow authors ready to pitch stories about witches, demons, fantastical worlds, teenage angst and the like, let’s say my Christian title stood out among the pack.

I raised many eyebrows with a name badge proudly displaying, “Kirsten Carlson, Christian Science Fiction.” A slew of colleagues approached with questions regarding my seemingly contradictory genre. I was thrilled to explain my story received a science fiction status based upon elements of human genetic research and mutation that pit my protagonist against the Christian faith, forcing her to choose between an immortal physical life and her everlasting soul. Everyone was intrigued and hoped to read it… everyone, that is, but the agents and editors. Over and over I heard, “I’m sorry, I just don’t think your story is a good fit.”

Now, I could pout and feel like a total failure; and here I must admit—for the sake of being sincere—that after a day of rejection and disappointment while I watched others around me receiving requests from agents for their work, I came home Friday feeling exhausted and defeated. I curled upon my bed, and was drawn to Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love (which I will pause to say is a fabulous book that every Christian should read). The following changed my entire perspective in one instant, Chan writes:

[Then I remembered Ephesians 2:10 which tells us that we were created “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” That verse is meant for me and all others who have been “saved by grace through faith.” My existence was not random, nor was it an accident. God knew who He was creating and He designed me for a specific work.
God’s next words to Jeremiah assured me that I need not fear failure:

“Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth” (Chan, p. 59).]

Suddenly, everything cleared. I believe God inspired me to write this novel, and it is for Him that I wrote it. I flashed to a scene earlier in the day when an esteemed New York editor stood on stage instructing how to give the proper pitch to an agent. He said, “And don’t tell us God or little green men told you to write this. We will go back and laugh at you afterward.” I understood his point at the time, but it irked me that he lumped God in with little green men. Then my eyes opened, these were not people who would represent God’s work, mainly for the reason that it was God’s work. My manuscript will be published, but these were not the individuals who would provide that path.

The next day I returned energized. I knew my work would be rejected, but something inside me changed. Rejection from these agents and editors no longer mattered. With some individuals offering suggestions to help me gain attention like, “Perhaps you could tone the ‘God part’ down a bit,” or, “Do you think you could make it more fantasy and take out Christian elements?” I realized they would reject my story as long as it spoke of God. They were, in fact, rejecting God…but I would not.

Standing tall, I pitched my story and spoke about God. I stood firm in my faith, throwing one dear agent off by asking, “Well, do you know of any agents who do represent Christian fiction?” She stared at me blankly, stating, “Most of us in New York don’t deal with that sort of thing.” She then offered a name of one person she thinks might represent Christian titles outside the state.

I entered this conference hoping my work would get recognized and thus my published novel would bring attention to God. I now realize that God sent me to draw attention to Him through rejection. People saw me, unwavering in my faith, pitching a story I believe is inspired by Him. I refused to deny Him before others, and with a happy heart I accepted rejection, and now I endeavor to find the correct Christian representation for my work. Many will never understand, but for those who do, we realize that God’s instructions are not always easy, yet He remains faithful to those of us who follow His commands.

As I was leaving last night, empty handed and ready to start sending out query letters to the correct contacts, a fellow author approached me and commented how impressed he was that I stood by my story and was able to handle rejection so well. He said it seemed as if I passed a huge test and came through the fire−and you know, I think he’s right. I know there is a long road ahead, but I also know that God is with me and I will never, ever, ever deny Him to anyone. I learned this weekend that I am a writer, but more importantly, I am a Christian. As for my novel, look for it to be published soon. I have faith that God will provide a platform that will honor Him. I won’t settle for anything less.

Blessings to you all!

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