Do you ever hear people use that line? Does it make you cringe?
Religious people in publishing have a bad rap, as we do in just about every other industry, for two reasons.
1. We tend to be idealistic and naive, at least at the beginning, and not realize how we sound to others, nor that God might not intend for that particular book to be published, but for us to go through the exercise of being faithful and obedient in writing it.
2. We don't realize how many times before that line has been used to excuse bad writing and demand favor from agents and editors.
As a newbie, struggling to find even a mustard seed of confidence, I wondered why I should bother to do something that has nothing whatsoever to do with feeding the poor or winning souls, yet the story consumed me. I would lose myself in writing for days and weeks at a time, then guiltily abandon it to catch up with other things. I could not find the balance; it was all or nothing.
I have cried out from the bottom of my soul, weeping and wretched, for God to turn off my imagination. I wanted to "die" creatively so that I could function more effectively in other areas. I've given up on that request, the answer is clearly "No, you have to figure this out and do it."
I started this novel by sitting down and making myself write something. Anything. Just to write. That was in February of 2007. Soon it will be the fifth anniversary of that day. The book is a mess. Not plotted, not planned. An organic growth of characters and storyline. I have written umpteen queries, none of which are close to useful. I've done an outline in retrospect. I've completely re-imagined my fictional world and characters twice. I am about to start another major revision.
Why bother? Why not just abandon it as a learning experience and do something else? Because this morning, when I got up to make my coffee, God stopped me in the kitchen, just as he stopped me Friday morning on my way into work, and many other days in the past five years.
"Finish the book," spoke that soft, knowing in my soul.
Instantly I push back. "Is that really You, or just my subconscious desire to escape the drudgery of my daily routine into a fantasy of importance and self-fulfillment?"
Infinitely patient pause.
"Finish the book."
Panic surges. "Technically it is finished. I wrote 'The End.' Do you mean really finish it for publication, because I don't think anyone will like it and I know I don't have time to promote it. You know I'm barely managing all the other things I have to do."
"Just finish it. Trust Me."
So, I am going to finish it, if only to get the Creator of the Universe off my back.
God told me to do it.