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My "Successful" Bumbling Writing JourneySome thoughts on how I got from there to here, with thanks.

I am reading a wonderful manuscript of a book that I hope will find a publisher one day. It's a memoir that includes a child with a disability and a spiritual journey and many hopes and fears and dreams and some very lovely writing. Despite its many strengths, it may well be years before it finds a publisher. I told the author the truth–that we sent A Good and Perfect Gift to 48 publishing houses. 48! And here's the kicker: they all said no. Their reasons were varied–in one case too much Jesus, in another not okay with infant baptism–but they really boiled down to marketability. It's hard to sell a disability memoir from a no-name author. But a year later, after I had put the chapters on the shelf and decided to finish up my seminary degree and see what God had in store, I got two emails. Both were editors at small publishing houses who had read a few blog posts of mine over at her.meneutics. "Do you have any book ideas?" they both asked. Well, yes. Yes I do.

As it happened, all three of us were on our way to the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College. It's a conference that happens every other year in the spring, and it is an amazing conflagration of people. If you write or read regularly, you should go. The Festival has actually been a very important place for my career as a writer (more on that another time) but even more so it has been a place to make friends, to learn, to grow, and simply to bask in the lectures, workshops, interviews, and conversations from and with great writers both within and outside the community of faith. This year it's happening from April 10-12 and early registration is available for the next few weeks. Again–if you write OR if you read–give this to yourself. You won't regret it.

What's funny to think is that I first attended the Festival in 2008, plumply pregnant with William, hoping I might find an agent for my first book, Penelope Ayers. Instead I made some friends and brought home a suitcase full of books and a few weeks later found an agent for A Good and Perfect Gift. It took three more years for A Good and Perfect Gift to become a reality, and somehow that reality put me in the realm of "successful authors." And eventually I was interviewed by Chuck Sambuchino at Writer's Digest, and now some of my thoughts on writing have appeared in one of his books, and, most recently on his blog: How Successful Authors Use Social Media to Sell More Books. I'm not sure that I count as a successful author, but I do count as a satisfied one, and I stand by the words in that interview. One thing I said to Chuck:

My biggest warning is that you can't do it all. I've tried to approach platform building like organic farming. I'm cultivating what grows (my audience, hopefully), but I'm trying to do so without gimmicks and with integrity and respect for the writing itself. I hope that this is a sustainable method that will also bear fruit, so to speak, with a faithful and steadily, if slowly, growing audience.

As I look back over the past six years as I have bumbled my way through this attempt to become a writer, I am filled with gratitude. For the opportunities, the friendships, the personal growth, and the people who took a chance on me. For you all, the faithful, steady, slowly-growing audience. Thanks for hanging in there with me and helping me to grow.

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