Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Write Your Passion: Following Your Heart

Writing Your Passion
by Staci Stallings

I think in every writer's life there comes a point where you have to decide what you're going to write and how you're going to write it. For me, that decision has shown up several times in different ways over the last 16 years.

Let me explain.

The first time I hit this decision came in writing the early chapters of my first book. I knew the book was a romance, and that was great by me. I'd devoured my share of them when I was younger. So here I was, typing away, when I found my heroine in the water, swimming for her life, trying to save a young man she'd just met. To make matters worse, she had cut her leg in the accident that landed them in the water.

She was going down, losing strength, and not nearly close enough to the shoreline to save them both. And I stopped.

Think about running full speed into a brick wall.

That pretty much describes that stop.

And I sat here and sat here and sat here. What to do next? This was long before anyone had ever heard of Christian romance. Oh, sure, there were historicals in that genre, but contemporary? No. Non-existent.

What to do? Could I let her pray? Should I? I thought back to every romance I'd ever read. None of them mentioned God. Not one. Ever. None of the characters ever prayed either. Hmm ...

I was stymied. If I wrote her praying, could I ever publish the book? If I didn't, could I write a whole book about someone who never spoke of or knew God? God was so central to my life, and they always say, "Write what you know.” So with a final breath, I did. She cried out to God just before help arrived.

After I let a few friends read that one, several of them commented about that prayer. They were surprised because they'd never read anyone praying in a book before ... especially not a romance!

Flash forward about five years, and the contemporary Christian lines were beginning to be seen on bookshelves. You would think that would validate my "write your passion" premise, but God had other ideas.

You see, my books don't fit in the lines. One, they are too long. Two, my characters don't act the way good little Christian characters are supposed to. The plotlines in my books don't revolve around external conflict like someone losing their house or bad guys coming to kidnap the heroine. Instead, they revolve around internal conflict--like not believing in God or being angry with God for a loss or feeling less than no matter what you accomplish.

So when I started to try to get editors, agents, and traditional houses interested, I kept getting the same feedback: "Write this the way we want it written, in this little box, and we'll consider it."

The problem was, I just couldn't. If I took out half the story to fit their word count or made the hero at peace with God and life, it ruined the story!

Again, I had to decide: Should I write what the world said I had to write in order to gain "success," or should I write my heart and let God decide what happened?

Well, it should be rather obvious what my decision was when I tell you I now own my own publishing company, and that I have 11 books out on Kindle and Nook, and every one of them has characters who skirt the rails or sometimes go flying off of them.

I don't say this path is right for everyone, but I know it was right for me. It allowed me to write the stories God gives me to write the way He gives them to me. To me, that's worth all the "success" the world said I would miss if I just listened to them instead of to my heart.

That's how I "Write my Passion."

Join Staci Stallings and 9 of her author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE! 


Parenting Expert Brenda Nixon said...

Wow, thanks for sharing your heart and passion. I appreciate your honesty and it inspires me to continue to write a new book, which won't fit in the lines. I have a book in me and I'll let God decide what happens.

Anonymous said...

I truly believe God puts those books on our heart for a reason. There is someone out there He wants to touch with THAT story or THAT book. When we start "aiming for publication," we often let ourselves get talked out of the story God gave us. It happened to me once... but only once. After that, I realized being published wasn't worth it if what came out was not my story in my voice. It's a choice each author has to make for him or herself.