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Writing

Writers Be Brave

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I wish you could see me now. One of my sons has decided, as of five minutes ago, that he could probably ponytail my hair. My hair was technically already in a ponytail, so he pulled it out. And some major tugging. And pulling. And pain commenced.  I asked him, “Are you almost done?!?!?!?” To which he replied, “You’re just gonna have to be brave.” 

It was a fitting statement for the entire reason I set out to write a blog post tonight. I just got back from a great conference that I attend every year, American Christian Fiction Writers  Conference. It’s been a tough year for Christian fiction. If you read Christian Fiction, you might want to run over to your nearest bookstore or online reader and support your favorite authors, and find some new ones to love while you’re there. These gals and guys have had a hard year. There are numerous houses that have closed their doors to fiction in the Christian market. I just bought a turkey mug from Wal-Mart that has a big ‘ole turkey on the front that says “The struggle is real.” And at conference, the struggle for fiction writers was not only real, it was palpable.

But, in spite of the bad news, I felt there was an energy at this conference that hasn’t been there before. I’m not sure if it was just in my agent appointments or if other editors and agents felt it too. There were readers there, not just writers. They made themselves known. These same avid readers, many of them young people, were also there pitching some really genius ideas. And they were young. These were the “millennials” that the CBA has failed to capture and convert to CBA fiction buyers. But, they were there and it was exciting. Most of the ones I met were there to pitch Young Adult novels, which is extremely challenging to sell in the CBA. But, what struck me the most was the bravery of the people that pitched to me. Bravery to pitch their writing, to explain their complex plots, and tell me boldly why I should sign them. Their ideas were great, they were professional, and their courage was refreshing.

Bravery is contagious. And I hope it begins to catch on amongst Christian fiction writers over the next year. Publishing needs/wants go in cycles. Maybe CBA fiction is down right now, but I really believe there is a shift on the horizon. I see the struggle clearly, but I think we can figure this out. Will you do something for me? Will you stick with your fiction no matter what you see on the horizon? Will you trust God with the stories and characters that live in your head—that beg you to give them life on paper? And last, but not least, writers, will you be brave? Sometimes we must believe in what we cannot yet see. There may be a little tugging on the horizon, possibly even a little pain as we re-group as an industry, but I believe that the best is yet to come for writers of Christian fiction.

-JESSIE

P.S. Please join me in October as I teach “31 Ways to Snag an Agent.” Please sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out on anything.

 

 

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Someone Like You

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Apparently, I wrote something that went viral last week. And I didn’t even know it. It wasn’t because I forgot to check my blog stats, or to count the shares on Facebook. I didn’t know I did it, because I didn’t do it. Didn’t write even one of those words that did go viral. Another Jessica Kirkland did. She took the Internet by storm with these words about Anna Duggar.

It’s sort of sobering when you see someone else, someone with your name, doing things that you do. The other Jessica Kirkland was similar to me in some ways: apparently likes to write, mom, passionate. But, she is not me. And even she is not alone. Did you know that there is a Jessica Kirkland tennis star? I only know about her because people google her all the time and land on my blog. They type things like “Jessica Kirkland pretty tennis star pictures.” I bet they get a surprise when they find me and not her. It’s sort of weird to think of someone else out there running about the globe answering to my name. And when you get right down to it—there could be hundreds of us, maybe thousands.

This funny Jessica Kirkland incident was like the salutation to a long dialogue that I’ve been having with God for the past nine months. See, God has been redefining my calling. He’s been refocusing my time and reorienting my thoughts about what He wants me to do this year as both an agent and a writer. See, my profession is literary agent, where I speak and teach at conferences around the country. However, I got into this profession because I first wanted to be a writer. And as we all know, sometimes work starts to eat into more time than you mean it to. Especially, if you work from home like me. It’s hard to find the time to balance family, career, and creative passions, isn’t it?  It is always sobering to see how quickly I find myself left of center. It’s a huge struggle for me to find the right balance so that I’m not wasting the gifts and talents God has entrusted to me.

What is especially sobering is to know that when we don’t obey God with the talents, and commands He has given us, that He can/will use someone else. See, there will always be someone else. Someone writing it down. Someone living it up. Someone to speak the words God asked you to speak, someone to write the book you always thought you’d write. There can easily be another person living a calling similar to yours, but they are not you. God wants to use you.

He made some of you teachers, and some of you artists, and some of you engineers, and some of you are moms that wear every hat every day for your spouse and children. I don’t ever want to live in the shadow of my own life. I don’t want to live the “almost” life. I want to live the life God has given me. I want to live it under the power and strength of the Holy Spirit so that I can look Jesus in the eye one day and hear Him say “well done”  and not “almost.”  There might be a host of people out there with similar names, interests, careers and passions but only one of them is you. I’ve learned my lesson this week, albeit an odd one. And hopefully it won’t take another “Jessica Kirkland” writing something viral to remind me to be obedient to God as I write the stories He’s called me to write.

 

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