Hello, everybody! I’ve brought triple chocolate cake and strong coffee, so grab a slice and pour yourself a cup. It’s so wonderful to be back in Seekerville! I always tell people that Seekerville taught me almost everything I know about writing. Aside from two writing books and a few other blogs, every good writing habit and crafty sleight-of-hand came from the good people at Seekerville. Thank you for sharing your knowledge over the years!
Today I’d like to talk going against the flow. We all like to be part of the crowd and feel like we fit in with our peers. Nobody looks to be the “odd man out”. But every now and then, especially as writers, we’re called to step out of the herd and do something different. I’m not talking about starting a revolution or gathering an army a la Game of Thrones. I’m talking about that “still, small voice” that lets you know that you’re called to a different path. We all have those moments. We’re all called to a unique and powerful purpose. How do we, as Christians who write books for a wide audience, answer that call to take the path less traveled? How do we recognize the call? Who do we ask for advice? How do we know we’re on the right path and not just being pigheaded? (That last one is my go-to question because I’m so often pig-headed it’s practically my default state. )
Step One: Pray. That’s obvious, isn’t it? But we should pray in a way that gives God a chance to answer, and not just listening to us make demands. One of my favorite ways to pray is to simply hold the question in my heart. I don’t make a list and go down the bullet points for God. He already knows more about it than I do. I don’t try to explain why I want to do whatever it is. I just hold the question gently and let the Holy Spirit give me gentle nudges.
OK, to be fair, sometimes the Holy Spirit has to do more kicking than nudging, but that’s me. I’m sure you all will be better listeners. When God is in charge, going against the flow doesn’t feel like you’re fighting your way upstream.
Step Two: Once I think I know which direction to go, I start to look for guides. None of us can walk this world alone, as much as we introverts like to think we can. If we find ourselves surrounded by people who have walked that path and are living out their divine purpose with joy, then it might be a good sign that we’re called to walk that path, also.
Finding someone who has gone before you isn’t just a survival tactic. It’s a great way to suss out whether you’re completely off base.
For an example, say I decided to open a yarn shop that only used dog hair. I start contacting companies that process fibers for yarn. I find lots of great, reputable companies that process alpaca, sheep, even yak. But no dog. In fact, the processing companies laugh long and hard at my idea of a yarn shop that sells dog hair. Should I give up? Or am I a brilliant entrepreneur that will revolutionize the yarn industry with my red setter, malamute, and husky mittens?
If I can find one person who has branched out from the usual yarn and that one person is willing to give me advice, I might say I was on the right path. But if I can’t find a single person who thinks it’s a good idea or knows anyone who has done the same thing, maybe it’s not meant to be. Maybe I should take up a more stable profession, like writing, haha.
|Along the Cane River|
When I decided to try and get a Bookbub ad for a boxed set of five books in my series, I wasn’t sure whether I was throwing away all my hard work, or if I was being a marketing genius. So I started looking around. I watched the charts. After a while, I approached writers I’d seen do the same thing and all of them were very happy to answer my questions. YAY! Going against the flow wouldn’t leave me swimming in the dark.
I’d found some guides, and that let me know I was on the right path. I certainly didn’t want to be trying to set up that project by myself because I’m not omniscient. I needed help. God provided several people willing to guide me through the process. The ad went smashingly and my boxed set ended up at #42 on the top 100 of all Amazon. Cracking the top 100 paid books had been on my bucket list for years!
|Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley|
When Valerie Comer asked me to join her Arcadia Valley Romance Series project with five other authors, I took a little while to think about it. (Okay, about five minutes, but still…) It was a very ambitious project and like nothing I’d done before. One novella in a collection and three full-length novels set in one fictional Idaho valley sounded like so much fun, but could I commit to four books in addition to my own projects? Would the schedule force me to make changes to our homeschooling? Would the marketing get in the way of my family time?
My oldest is almost seventeen but my youngest is only six. I have great kids and my teens haven’t given me a lick of trouble (besides some eye rolling and chore shirking) but we take our schooling very seriously. We’ve got kids taking college classes and kids just learning to read. We spend a month on the coast studying marine biology and take trips to the geological formations in the next state. Being in charge of a child’s education is a big responsibility and homeschooling is a whole different beast, including the loss of writing time during the day. In a way, I have a day job as a teacher, and my writing can never overshadow that.
So, how have you had to go against the flow? When you realized you were being called to a different path, how did you find your way? Was there someone who walked with you as you stepped out in faith? I would love to hear about the times you embraced your unique purpose in life!
Comment to put your name in the hat for prizes! I’m giving away my boxed set of the first five books of the Cane River Series, AND the awesome cookbook River Road Recipes, a collection of classic creole and Cajun cuisine from the Cane River community near Natchitoches, Louisiana, where my series is set.
My newest release is the 6th book in the Cane River Romance series.
One magical bookstore, two best friends, and a whole cast of
interfering busybodies determined to help true love happen!
Mary Jane Hathaway is an award-nominated writer of Christian fiction and a homeschooling mom of six young children who rarely wear shoes. She holds degrees in linguistics and religious studies from the University of Oregon and lives with her habanero-eating husband, Crusberto, who is her polar opposite in all things except faith. They've learned to speak in short-hand code and look forward to the day they can actually finish a sentence. In the meantime, Mary Jane thanks God for the laughter and abundance of hugs that fill her day as she plots her next book. She also writes under the pen name of Virginia Carmichael and loves to meet readers on her facebook page of Mary Jane Hathaway, on the weekends at the cooking blog Yankee Belle Café, or on her personal blog The Things That Last.