with guest Rachelle Dekker.
I have never been a “rule-follower.” I don’t always break the rules, but I do find myself bending them from time to time. Part of it may be the rebel in me that always has to learn the hard way, but part of it comes from the constant creative flow that works its way through my brain. The question of Why? that follows me like a shadow. It dares me to wonder if things have to be done by the rules, and tells me that if I’m brave enough to color outside the lines my experience might be greater. I may unlock secrets others are too afraid to find.
This part of me is loudest when I sit down to write. Getting published is difficult. There are many steps, many channels and people that have to buy into the story you’re essentially selling. And one of the major questions everyone is chasing is: What’s hot in the market right now? What rules do we need to follow so people will buy the books we’re selling?
There’s nothing wrong with these questions—publishers and agents should be looking at them. They want to do right by their authors, and frankly, authors have to sell books in order to continue writing. So what happens then, as a writer, when the story you need to tell is out of fashion, by all accounts? Or when it doesn’t fit into the mold that people are comfortable with?
In the seven years I’ve been actively working on getting published, I have been faced with this problem more often than not. My stories are too edgy, too different, too risky. I want to write religious fiction, but in a secular way. I don’t want my heroine to be saved by a man. I don’t really want to write romance. Why can’t I write about an assassin? Why can’t I write about vampires? Why can’t I write dystopian? The answer to these questions was always the same. Because that isn’t what sells. (Note: I’m talking about the Christian market here.)
There were many times when I thought about just doing what they asked. Giving in and writing what was popular. Now, please hear me when I say I have nothing against what is popular in Christian fiction. It’s beautiful and fantastic and I enjoy reading it! The only problem is that my heart was always pulling me in another direction, and in order for me to write authentically I had to follow my heart. So every time I heard, “This is fine, but I’m not sure it’s what’s right for the market,” I stood at a crossroads. Follow the advice of those who probably know better than you, or follow your gut.
The decision wasn’t easy, because I really wanted to be published, I really wanted to write and make a living doing it. But I couldn’t ignore the calling in my spirit to be brave and follow the path less traveled. So I continued to write stuff that was outside the box and trusted that the leading in my spirit wouldn’t guide me astray.
For me it was all a lesson in faithfulness—and trust. Trusting that if I was faithful to my calling then whatever purpose my calling was meant to have in the world would unfold, but I had to be faithful even in the hardest of times.
Thankfully, I eventually found a publisher that was brave enough to jump off the ledge with me! I remember one of the first times we were at an event together, me and several representatives from my publisher. We were seated around a large round table, listening to the keynote speaker. She was an esteemed figure in the literary world, a top-ranked expert, and she said, “Don’t write or buy dystopian fiction; it’s on its way out.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but it was something very similar to that. Fear exploded in my chest. I had just sold a novel fitting this exact description to the people sitting around me. I braved a glance at them and I was immediately encouraged. Their faces said, Don’t worry, we’ll prove her wrong. And I was thrilled to have continued to practice faithfulness in my craft.
Write what your heart is telling you to. Follow the path even if you’re walking it alone. You never know where it will lead you, but if you are faithful to your calling, then you are exactly where you should be.
What is your calling? Does it ever feel like the world is telling you there’s a right way to follow that calling, but your heart is leading you down another road?
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair.
Visit her online at www.rachelledekker.com.
Rachelle is featured in the current Christian Fiction Online Magazine too!
The Choosing (A Seer Novel)
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.
But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.
Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.
Leave a comment for an opportunity to win a copy of The Choosing (which releases TODAY on Amazon!) Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.