Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guest Blogger: Chris Fabry on the Journey of a Writer

When are you a real writer? When do you know you’ve reached the moment when you can put “writer” under your name on a letter or a business card? I used to think it was upon publication. Maybe an article in a big magazine. Or after you sign a book deal or finally hold the idea you had in your head in your hands. That bright, beautiful book with your name in bold on the cover and the spine.

I was fortunate enough to have my first book published in 1995. I still remember driving to the publisher about 20 minutes away with my wife and children. I picked up a box from the receptionist and walked to the car, my kids clamoring for a peek inside. We stood there with the Illinois cloud cover and I ripped off the packing tape and handed out the first copies. I had dreamed of that moment for many years. I read every Writers Digest Magazine, read Dean Koontz’s book on bestselling fiction a hundred times, wrote for my local paper, journaled, scribbled stories in the basement of our home—words that no one will ever read. I prayed, begged, and cajoled God to let me do this.

Holding that first book in my hands, the culmination of so many dreams, I had one thought: “When will I hold book #2?”

I didn’t feel like a “real writer” after book #1. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe the publisher just showed bad judgment. And if anyone actually bought the thing, well, it showed how bereft they were of their literary scruples. The book sold pretty well, but it didn’t make me feel like a real writer.

Book #2 came out the next year. Book #3 followed a year later. Another contract brought another two books. Then, I had the opportunity to write children’s fiction with Jerry Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye. I furiously wrote 35 books in the Left Behind: The Kids Series. Following that were 20 more children’s books, two as-told-to biographies of football legends, and now my first three books of adult fiction. Almost Heaven, my latest novel, is my 70th published book.

A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting where my sales history was put forward in black and white. Undisputable numbers. I gulped. What would the numbers say? I flipped to the last page. The total at the bottom was nearly 4 million copies sold.

And still, as I sat there, that number didn’t confirm that I was really a writer. A typist can sell a lot of copies.

What I’ve learned through this journey is that I was every bit as much a writer BEFORE I was published than I am now. In my heart was a burning desire to communicate through the written word. I couldn’t NOT write. I had to get to the page. Whether anyone read it or not, this was part of the way God made me. No one can tell you you’re a writer. No sales figure will confirm it. Not even your name on the cover of a book will give you the feeling. It’s something you have to believe deep inside. Writing is something you do. Being a writer is something you are. You work at the craft, you progress, you fail and you fall and you pick yourself up each day and put one word behind another.

If God has put that desire in your heart, he’s done so for a purpose. Create. Pour out the pain and love and truth. You can’t control if you’ll be published. You can’t control how many people will read what you write. You can only be faithful to the pulse beat of the heart of a writer.

About the Author: Chris Fabry is the author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books for both children and adults.  His book, Dogwood was the 2009 Christy Award winner in the contemporary standalone category.  He is also a host for the daily radio program Chris Fabry Live! and co-host for several other radio shows. 

Please keep Chris Fabry and his family in your prayers this November.  Check here for updates: Fabry Family Updates.

Also, don't forget to download Chris' latest book, Almost Heaven, currently available FREE from Amazon Kindle. 


Renee Ann said...

Almost Heaven is one of those books that really touched my heart and made me think about how God's view of our lives is so different from ours. (I loved Malachi's part in the story!) Both Chris's book and this post are reminders that as long as we're using our gifts for the Lord, the earthly notice is of little consequence. Thanks for encouraging us today, Chris and Julia . . . Also, I checked out Chris's blog and prayed for his family's many needs. Blessings!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, this resonated with me. What a great reminder that no matter where we are in our journey, God has called us to this wild ride called writing toward publication. Thanks, Julia and Chris!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Julia, Thank you for this post:)

Thank you, Chris for your encouragement. I think these words of wisdom hold true for any career, which is another added encouragement. So many times we feel like we haven't succeeded or have been failures, and without words of encouragement like you wrote today, we'd all be couch potatoes wallowing in self-pity.
Thanks for being with us today, Chris.
I look foward to seeing you next Monday on my God Loves Kids blog.

Laura Frantz said...

I so admire Chris's work! And I have Almost Heaven sitting right here by my writing chair waiting to be read. He said it so well - he couldn't NOT write. That's certainly how I've felt since I was small and God put the dream in my heart. Bless you, Julia and Chris for such a blessing of a post!

Julia M. Reffner said...

@Renee Ann, I loved your review and I love your statement that "as long as we are using our gifts for the Lord, the earthly notice is of little consequence." What a great thought, humbling and encouraging for writers!

@Sarah, I'm so glad this encouraged you today!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

What an encouraging post! Writing is so hard sometimes because what we do is not easy to define. And what we have to show for it doesn't always best sum up who we are. Just because we're not published doesn't mean we're not writers.

Thanks Julia for posting this, and Chris for writing something so encouraging!

Julia M. Reffner said...

@Mary, I can't wait to see Chris over at your blog. And I so agree that his words are great encouragement for anyone doing ANY work for the Lord, which should be everything we do right?

Thanks for coming over. Almost Heaven is the first of Chris' work I have read, now I would really like to read June Bug. His sense of voice is wonderful.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Cindy, Yes, I think this was exactly what many of us needed to hear and Chris put it so well.

Heather Sunseri said...

What a wonderful, inspiring and encouraging post!

Unknown said...

Chris, you're an example to me of many things: of a calling that won't be denied, of God's blessings on you through both trial and triumph. I praise God for you.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Heather & Latayne,
Thanks for stopping by!

Amber Holcomb said...

Oh, I just loved this post! Thank you for sharing about what being a writer truly means, Chris! Definitely some great thoughts to remember. :)