Why Are You Doing This Writing Thing?

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I write because I’m compelled to, but more than that, I’m called to. My prayer is that my characters will somehow encourage others in their struggle with faith and living that out in the midst of the challenges of life.

I want my characters to in some way come to manifest characteristics of Christ as we are all to be sanctified, growing, continuing to be made holy in our walk with Him.

I hadn’t really connected that to the editing work I do until a week ago.


Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I received a submission for a novella, a romance that  was set in India. I started to read and mark up the manuscript. I do this for two reasons.

  1. If I choose to contract the story, I have a start on my editing process and
  2. If I reject it, I have tangible points of helpful criticism, that I can give to the author to help them grow in their craft.

I’m unusual in that every rejection I’ve given, thus far, I’ve received warm gratitude for. I hate writing those letters because I know what it feels like to get them myself. Apparently I do it well. Not quite the selling point on a resume though, is it?

This Indian romance was different. It was for a line of fiction that does not need to have an inspirational faith story to it. The only problem was, this one did have a faith story. It was steeped in Hindu culture and belief and it was so integral to the plot there was no way the story could be written without it.

The story moved me. The problems I found in the manuscript from an editing standpoint, were fixable. I would not have rejected the manuscript because of them although many other editors would have. I was brought to tears over the heroine’s struggle. I loved the author’s voice and the color in which she painted her homeland. I’ve never been to India and she was better than a travel brochure to create in my mind the beauty of her country.

Prism Book Group is primarily a Christian publishing house. This rejection was more than just due to mechanics–this was due to an author’s deeply held faith. The weight of this was torture. I couldn’t accept the story–but as a Christian I do not want to alienate the heart of a woman, an author, that God has placed in my path. I don’t believe this was an accident.

See, this is work we do, is more than business. It’s about the heart. About drawing people to know and love our Lord the way we do. And that goes far beyond the books we write, edit and publish.  Ultimately, it happens one-on-one. One heart at a time.

This woman’s heart didn’t know Jesus and here I was, His representative, having to reject her work because of her lack of faith in Christ and her belief in false gods. How do I do this thing?  The fact is–it was her very faith that was the foundation for my rejection!

Apparently I did it well. I quickly received an email response filled with gratitude for the things I pointed out that she could do to make her manuscript better. I was able to honestly compliment her on her writing voice. I pointed out the problem in as respectful a way as I could.  She agreed that these were items that could not be removed from the story.

She thanked me and told me she would hope to submit to me again, when she had a story without the Hindu faith woven in. I look forward to that because there is a relationship that develops between an author and editor and maybe, just maybe, God would open a door for her to know Jesus in the process.

So I am praying for her, because ultimately that is what it is all about. Seeing people come to know and love our Savior as we do.

What’s your motivation as you write or edit or do whatever you do in publishing? We’re not as isolated as we think and our words and actions, even off the page, can have eternal impact.  This past week I was reminded of that and it humbled me.

4 thoughts on “Why Are You Doing This Writing Thing?

  1. Wow Susan, I bet that was a dilemma. But I know you were fair and probably more encouraging than anyone could be.
    I write because of my faith. I honestly don’t think that if I wasn’t a faith-filled woman, I would write fiction. To me it’s a way of showing the reader how each of us can grow in God. I find often, with my novels when the last page is done, I have became stronger too.

  2. Susan, What is your personal e-mail ID? I had a virus and all my contacts are scrambled. I really have enjoyed your posts! You really have a gift of writing and teaching!! Stephanie

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