Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Writer's Confession

I consider my eavesdropping ears a gift from God.

My mother considers me rude, but as a writer, I can listen shamelessly at restaurants, waiting rooms and church and call it all research. (I wish there were some way to also make it tax deductible, but at least it's free. And fun.)

My peculiar talent kicked in the night before one of my first ACFW conferences after I had just picked up conference materials in the nearly deserted registration office. An uncertain voice emanated from a small side room.

"I'm new to this, you know. I'm not sure what to do."

I decided to hang out until she emerged. Hopefully, I'd discovered a fellow late-arriving ignoramus who might welcome a dinner partner.

Instead, the speaker's face jarred me. It matched a photo in my conference materials. This woman with the deer-in-the-headlights gaze was an editor in a major publishing house.

"I've got a million appointments. How do I handle this?"

The company had sent her, a newbie, alone on this important mission. Queen Red Ink, from the same company, was supposed to make the trip, too, but had the audacity to get sick at the last minute.

I stole a glance at the woman's Loreal hair and make-up, her oh-so-sleek outfit. I just knew my shoe size was larger than her hip measurement.

"You'll do fine." A seasoned editor patted her on the shoulder. "Listen and use your instincts. I'll pray for you."

I should have felt Holy-Spirit-happy at this exchange. Instead, I wanted to yell, "Hey, I'm the one--not to mention several hundred other publication-hungry writers--who could use the prayers!"

Editors don't need prayers. They hold The Power. And lots of them even have skinny hips.

When I sensed a slight nudge in my conscience, I tried to find support for my attitude in the Bible. But the not-so-happy Holy Spirit informed me it wasn't there. In fact, since I tended to regard editors as opponents--almost my enemies--I should pray for them, as Jesus commanded.

Since those early days in my writing career, I've learned a lot more about editors. I even count some of them as [gasp!] friends. The more I know about editors, the more I understand them. Reading addicts, they love books, just as I do. The majority hate to say "no" almost as much as I hate to hear it. And I've come to realize writers and editors both are riding the same crazy publishing industry train, clinging to its top like a multitude of cats to the same bedspread. (Sorry about the mixed metaphor, but that's the way I picture it.) We hope the thing will keep moving and take us to our common destination--which is to serve the Lord and His people through the writing craft.

So when the Christian fiction-writing world descends on Indianapolis this September, I will pray for all, that God gives us servant hearts and the willingness to use good writing in whatever way He deems wise. I'll pray for writers. I'll pray for editors, too.

Even those with skinny hips.


  1. Thanks for being real Rachel. I am so looking forward to Indianapolis!

  2. What a great reminder to get the focus off ourselves, relax, and enjoy the wonderful gift of conference and other people JUST LIKE US.

    Remembering this should also keep us from being critical when speakers don't measure up to our high standards and increase our patience when editors or agents turn out not to be oracles of perfection.

  3. Thanks,ladies! I'll need to reread this myself before Indianapolis.