by Patty Smith Hall
A few years back, I was totally frustrated with my writing career, or should I say, lack of one. Family and job responsibilities took up every available moment of my time, and that book I’d promised myself I’d finished stared up at me from it’s permanent perch at the far corner of my computer screen every time I got on the internet. I was ready to give up, had even gone as far as packed up my writing books and cleaned out my office when I heard one short sentence that changed the way I thought about my writing. It’s from Marlene Bagnull’s Bible study for writers, Write HIs Answer.
We are literature missionaries.
Such a profound statement! But how do we as writers put it into action? How do we find the motivation to keep traveling down this road to publication when all turns seem to lead us to nowhere land? We look where Christians should always look—to Christ!
- Spend time in prayer--Jesus’s example shows us that the place we should begin every aspect of our lives is on our knees. If we try to write without going to Him in daily prayer, our stories will lack power. Prayer was essential to His ministry--so it should be important to ours as well.
- Know what God’s word says and means--how can we write spiritual truths if we don’t immerse ourselves in scripture every day?
- Have a vision--Proverbs 29:18 says that ‘where there is no vision, people will perish. Jesus had a plan for His future--one that would bring glory to God. How will we know we’ve arrived if we never made a plan for the trip?
- Don’t cut yourself off from people and their needs--Jesus, though completely God, laid aside His power and glory, and became one of us. He laughed and cried. He felt what we feel.
- Know your audience and find ways to reach them effectively--Jesus met people where they were at in their lives; used down to earth illustrations most folks could understand. We must trust the simple power in the message of the Cross rather than try to impress people with our vast knowledge of language and skill.
- Learn to persist--we need to learn to handle rejection--Jesus knew rejection. It was a daily occurrence to him. Our rejections are just a book or a magazine article. His has eternal ramifications.
Patty grew up just outside of Atlanta, hearing family stories of gallant men and gutsy ladies. Those early tales whetted her appetite for history and by the age of eleven, Patty had plowed through all the history books and biographies in the county library. It was about this time that she read her first romance novel and fell head long into a lifetime love affair with the genre. At age fifteen, Patty wrote her first novel, a satire of a gothic novel, for her tenth grade English class. She received an A plus, but even more, her teacher encouraged her to keep writing.
But writing doesn’t pay the bills. Patty received her degree in nursing from Kennesaw State University and worked in various areas such as research and high risk infant care. But even with her love of nursing, Patty still studied the craft of writing, listening to writing tapes during her daily commute. With the birth of her daughters, her attention shifted to her home life and raising two busy little girls. Between church activities, volunteer work and extended family, her life was full.
But that desire to write never wavered. In 2000, with her girls growing up and life settling into a routine, Patty started seriously studying the craft of writing. A founding member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she served on the national board as well as various other regional positions. She first found publishing success with her short stories in the God Allows U-Turns series as well as Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul; a Second Dose and Guidepost magazine. Her debut novel, Hearts in Flight, won the 2008 American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis Award in historical romance and was picked by Publisher’s Weekly as a top inspirational read for the 2011 spring and summer season.
Patty lives with her husband of 28 years in suburban Atlanta and finds her greatest joy in spending time with her family and friends.