Remember that Saturday Night Live skit featuring Jon Lovitz as Stephen King? If you do, you're old, like me. Ha ha. Anyway, as I recall, there’s Lovitz (as King) furiously tapping away on a Smith-Corona or similar. (In those days, Stephen King had so many books out he released several under a pseudonym.)
I'm going from memory here, but as I recall, the interviewer asks Mr. King about his prolificness (yes, it's a word ~ I looked it up) and suddenly, inexplicably, the typing stops. Panic overtakes Mr. King and he begins to bemoan his writer's block, uttering phrases like, It's over! I'll never be able to write again! My career is gone!
After a comedic pause, a thought drops into his mind, he blithely says, "never mind", and then he's back to furiously tapping those keys.
Welcome to the writing world! Though that skit poked fun at the inner life of the writer—something many of us know well—what I’m talking about here is the outer life. Or, the things beyond our control. (Which is, basically, everything.)
The Journey (in a nutshell)
I first began tackling writing as a profession after leaving my day job at the YMCA to give birth to my son. He will be 19 later this year. My first published essay, “Baby, Cordless Phone and Me,” appeared soon afterward in Expecting Magazine, and because readership changed every nine months or so (ahem), they published that story three years in a row. After that, I wrote articles, devotionals, and interviews for all sorts of magazines and compilations.
It didn’t make me rich. Nor famous. But it kept me writing, and I liked that. As time passed, and with two more children and a house filled with kidlet chatter, yay-high finger prints, and bowls of mac ‘n’ cheese, I longed to keep the grown-up side of my brain intact. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can relate.
So I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. In between the short pieces, I finished writing two novels that didn’t sell, but at least, I had the articles and stories to keep me busy.
Until one year when I didn’t.
By mid-summer 2004, not one assignment or on-spec piece had come my way all year. I felt baffled…and a little depressed, both common reactions among writers, but difficult nonetheless. By this time my youngest was six and in school, and I began questioning my life. Not that being a mommy wasn’t enough! But I’d always written, some way, some how, and suddenly, I didn’t know which direction to take.
So I took a break.
Our church’s associate pastor had approached me about a part time job, and I took this as God’s answer to my questioning. We had not been part of this church long, so the job helped me quickly make new friends. I also learned unfamiliar computer programs, and found myself using my writing skills with newsletters, email correspondence, and visual aids.
Several months later—suddenly it seemed—the writing doors swung back open.
~ I was invited to be interviewed on an LA Christian radio program.
~ I received a check in the mail for an article I’d submitted two years previously.
~ An “out of the blue” request came in for five devotionals to be published in a weekly booklet.
Then, an old acquaintance, now an acquisitions editor, invited me to send one of my long ago novels his way. As it turned out, that novel wasn’t right for his house, but the editor who read it liked my writing style and invited me to submit future novels to Bethany House. (Tip: If an editor says this to you, save their information and do follow up!)
That spark of interest gave me what I needed to start a new story. It took nearly a year of working and writing part time, but eventually, the proposal for my novel, Chocolate Beach, was ready for submission to Bethany House—and it sold. That book was published in 2007. And just a few days ago, I saw the release of my fourth novel, A Shore Thing (B&H Publishing Group).
So that’s it. End of story … right?
The thing is, getting published feels great … until there’s a bend in an otherwise straight path. Sometimes when I’m between contracts, or when the ideas don’t flow like Mr. King’s, panic tries work its way through fissures in my confidence. It attempts to say It's over! I'll never be able to write again! My career is gone!
Yet when I look back at God’s hand on my life—not just my writing career, but my life—I know better. Through all the good days—and the not so good, such as an early relationship gone wrong, major illness, and the inconsistencies of the writing life—God has never abandoned me during the pauses. I’ve never been left for long to face a seemingly dead end with no inkling, no direction, and no hope at all.
Instead, I’ve found that when moving forward is hard, the best thing to do is look back at all that God has done. Then I begin to see, once again, that breaks along the journey are actually Divine detours.
About Today's Guest:
Julie Carobini writes seaside novels filled with faith, flip flops and waves of grace. Her lastest release, A Shore Thing, received 4 stars by Romantic Times, and is part of the acclaimed Otter Bay Novel series. Julie and her husband Dan have three children and live on California’s central coast.
Today Julie is graciously giving away one copy of A Shore Thing to one Seekerville visitor. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. Please leave an email with your comment.