I’m three years and counting into the development of my first novel.  Today I found myself laughing out loud at the sheer insanity of time invested with little promise of a future, short of Jeremiah 29:11. Everyone in America is writing a novel and very few are getting published the traditional way.  My living room is full of Nutcrackers waiting to be packed up and sent to the basement, pine needles litter the floor, the vacuum has been asking for some quality time together.  Instead, I am chained to the glory of revision.

No one said, “Oh, go ahead and write your first novel. You teach writing.  It should be a breeze for you.” However, in the deep, dark, inexplicable recesses of my soul, I believed I could do it. I’m not sure why other than it seemed like I had an interesting idea to research.  After a year of poking around libraries and reading books about piano concertos, I adopted the G.Y.B.T. C. motto (glue your butt to the chair) and invoked some serious discipline.  Yes, I had word count goals and I stuck to them, but more importantly, I prayed before I wrote anything.  At the end of another year, I had a rough draft.  When I shared it with my Redbud Manuscript Group, they encouraged me to keep going and they prayed for me.  I learned that “keep going” meant finding an agent.  This also meant, more research, writing book proposals, query letters and sending them out to the few agents I discerned would be perfect for my project.

Then wait for the news and pray more.  One agent took a week to respond and she told me what she liked about it and what she didn’t.  Two other agents said they’d like to see the full manuscript revised and they had a lot of helpful ideas as to how to improve it. Another agent, I desperately wanted, said “no” after months of back and forth and constructive feedback.  Overall, I was encouraged.  Rather than receiving blanket “NO WAY, are you kidding me?” emails, I had something to work with.

I turned to the beloved Redbuds and asked them who I could turn to for help addressing some of the developmental issues the agents’ were reacting to.  Their contacts led me to an editor who is my new inbox best friend.  I can’t believe it, but I am now in my very favorite part of this project, stepping back and thinking through every word with the catalyst of her insight leading me on.  Since I began writing my novel, I prayed that the Lord would bring me the partners of his choosing.  Redbud, the agents’ feedback and this new editor are His answer to those prayers.  I try not to think about what is next.  We can only take these big projects one day at a time and enjoy the ride.

Words.  Feedback.  A community of Christian women writers. An editor more experienced than myself.  All of these came from Him, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights.”  James 1:17. So for all of you who are itching to write, submit yourself day by day to what the Lord wants to do with your writing and see where He takes you.  If my version of the great American novel ever comes out, I’ll let you know.  True joy in revising is the blessing for today.

Margaret Philbrick

Margaret Philbrick is an author, gardener and teacher who desires to plant seeds in hearts. Margaret has a B.A. in English Literature from Trinity University in San Antonio Tx.and a Masters in Teaching from National Louis University. She teaches writing and literature to children and teens at The Greenhouse School and H.S.U., both of which provide supplemental classical education to the home-school community. She is actively involved in the fulfillment of God’s vision at Church of the Resurrection and the Redbud Writers Guild where she serves on the board of both organizations. Her first book, Back to the Manger, is a holiday gift book she created with her mother, an oil painter. Her debut novel, A Minor, released to critical acclaim in 2014. You can find Margaret in her garden digging in the dirt or writing poetry and you can connect with her on-line via her website at: www.margaretphilbrick.com.
Margaret Philbrick

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