The Accidental Author

imageIn all honesty, I became an author quite by accident. I didn’t take a single English class in college. I was a music major, after all, and I passed the AP English exam from high school, which counted as my college credit. Good enough for me. And for years after graduating, my focus was still music. Writing wasn’t even on my radar. I played the organ for church, directed a few choirs over the years, and had no intention of becoming an author. But then a student of the week project for my second-grade son gave me an idea for an A to Z poem that eventually became the book Our Faith From A to Z. Now, that’s the sort of book I can handle. There were specific parameters under which I had to operate- one word for each letter of the alphabet, each verse had to fit the meter of the poem, and I had to write an explanatory paragraph for each of the 26 words or concepts. I can do that. Fiction, on the other hand, is an entirely different sort of beast. You can pretty much go anywhere and do anything in your writing, so long as it’s interesting enough to capture people’s attention. It’s sort of daunting for someone like me who likes specific boundaries. I even told my best friend once, “I have no desire whatsoever to venture into fiction.” And that should have been the end of it. Because once I did try fiction, I did everything wrong.

Many people who aspire to be authors attend writing workshops and/or belong to peer editing groups. Me? Not so much. And since I hadn’t taken college writing classes, that meant my last official instruction in English had been in high school, many moons ago. Not exactly a resumé to catch the eye. But it gets worse. When I sent my original manuscript to my editor for her to read, it was 35,000 words short of what a novel ought to be. Oops. I waffled back and forth between third person omniscient and third person limited, and didn’t even use third person limited properly half the time. (Actually, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as either of those- I just thought third person was third person.) The original attempt left a lot of room for improvement. Were it not for the patience and kindness of an editor who saw through these rough edges and helped smooth them over, I never would have become an author at all.

By all rights, I shouldn’t be a Christian either. Nor should you. We did everything wrong. As we confess in the liturgy, “…we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment…” Not a terribly inspiring resumé, is it? And that really should have been the end of the story. But it’s not. Despite all our shortcomings, God sent Jesus to live a perfect life for us and die in our place. But it wasn’t because of any intrinsic worth in me that He did so. Quite the opposite actually. I had no worth; nothing at all to offer God. God didn’t see worth and potential in me- He gave me worth because of the sacrifice of His Son. And because of that, I have a pretty impressive resumé after all- I have Jesus’ righteousness credited to my account.

And that’s no accident.

Photo is Diary Writing by Fredrik Rubensson
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