Saturday, February 14, 2009

A New Direction

Starting in a new direction is exciting to me but scary at the same time. You, too?
For the past four years, I've felt God redirecting my writing life, calling me to a new direction: fiction. But I was afraid. Could I do it? What if I fail? Non-fiction is definitely my comfort zone. What if I don't even try?
In a tiny step of faith, I herded three other writers with the same dream into an online critique group. We four: Melanie, Michelle, Christa, and I, call ourselves "Novel Friends" and all put our toes in the ring at the same time. Since then, Michele and Chrisa have produced great novels,and Christa's has even been nominated for the Gold Medallion Award!(Watch for her upcoming interview on "Virelle & Friends." Sign up for that on my website.) Melanie and I have busy with non-fiction books that were first on our lists, doodling with our novels on the side. My two new books came out in 2008 with Moody Publishers, Meet Me at the Well and The Best Life Ain't Easy. I'm happy with them and have a full year of speaking scheduled ahead. This fall I've labored over a new book proposal to follow them, but a nagging unrest plagued me. What about the novel? When will I complete it?
Yesterday I spent time at the library trying to write my proposal again and realized something big and honest and a little frightening. I'll be miserable if I have to write this now and put off the novel yet again. I shared that with Steve last night, when simultaneously, Melanie wrote me about how Karen in her prayer group said she sensed I was going in a new direction after finishing the Best Life. Was it fiction? It really surprised me...another clear nudge from God.

This morning, Steve read me this old poem from a devotional we use and it was the confirmation I needed. Maybe you need it today, too.

"God is not in a hurry, dear!
The work He chose for you can wait,
If He’s giving you another task to do.
Or, if He call you from your work to quietness and rest,
Be sure that in the silence you may do His bidding best.

You cannot be a joy to Him, if thus with frown and fret
You turn at each new call of His, to find new lessons set.
The old familiar tasks were dear, and ordered by His hand;
But come and tread another way: it is as He has planned.

And yesterday He led you there; and now He wants you here;
And what shall be tomorrow’s work? Tomorrow will make it clear.
So patiently and faithfully let each day’s course be run;
God is not un a hurry, dear,
His work will all be done."

--Edith Hickmann Divall

That was it. I’m happy to say the decision is made. I’m turning to the two novels I need to write. Even if I appear unsuccessful, I will be obedient. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement, and your honesty. I love it when you write back.
Are you sensing a new direction in your life, too? Maybe it's small, like the new haircut I got yesterday, or it might be bold and wild, like moving out of state. Why not share it with your best friends and ask them to pray as my friends have for me. Then, buckle up. Sniff the wind for change. Something very God is in the works!
His best to you!




Susan Marlow . . . said...

I DO know all about being pulled, or in my case, being asked to "Jump off the cliff with Jesus into the abundant life of relying on Him." I did that about a year and a half ago (yes, with regards to the writing piece) and it was SO WONDERFUL! (After the initial, "OK, I'm doing it!" That part was scary).

Just like you.

You will not be sorry! God is able!
Phil. 1:6--He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Virginia Smith said...

I pray you'll find abundant peace and joy in this new direction, Virelle! Having never written nonfiction, I can't compare the two, but I can tell you that writing novels is a LOT of fun!

And even if you "appear unsuccessful," you will be incredibly successful just because of your obedience.

Can't wait to hear about your new novels!

Pat said...

I was so excited to find your blog this morning through ASWA. It is now on my blog friend roll. I have been in an amazing life turn for the past 2 years writing Non-Fiction that was beyond my wildest dreams. It is fiction that has been my dream book(s) for about 10 or so years. I now have at least 1 more Non-Fiction in line (maybe 2) before I can get to that one.
I loved your poem and would love to get to know you better.
I am new to ASWA and feel like a fish out of water.
I will be back to visit!

Bobbi Updegraff said...

I've been pulled the opposite--fiction to nonfiction. I love the opportunities writing for Presbyterian Disaster has given me, but I miss living in my imagination with really great characters.

Melanie and I were going to keep each other accountable in sticking to finishing our novels. Perhaps we will make a prayerful threesome.

Blessings, Bobbi

Vonda Skelton said...

Virelle, I'm so happy for your confirmation! I struggle with similar issues and pray I'll have confirmation soon. Be blessed, my dear friend!

Janice Elsheimer said...

Hey, Virelle

Sorry I missed you at our Word Weaver Tuesday night special event last week. The folks who were there said they learned SO much from you. I met you the time you spoke at one of our retreats (in Vero Beach, I believe) and we're both AWSA sisters. Furthermore, I too am struggling with a change in direction that relates to yours.

It looks like my half-time teaching job is going to be put on the chopping block next year, and my two options are to go back to full-time teaching for the three years I have left until retirement (certainly a financially prudent way to go), or to take early retirement and throw my hat into the writing/speaking ring full time.

In addition to that dilemma, I too have been gestating two different novels which I feel God is calling me to write. The fear that this nonfiction writer might not cut the ol' mustard when it comes to writing fiction is a huge part of my reluctance to go at it with focused attention. The other part is time: I really need to study up on how to write fiction! I was with a novel writing group led by Larry Leach, whom you know, but I got kind of stuck and eventually dropped out of the group because I felt called to start the second idea rolling, and that required reading my mother's diaries from 1941-1951. The other novel I was working on fell by the wayside.

Now I have this opportunity to write full time instead of spending half of every week teaching elementary school kids, but I'm afraid that if I have all that time (and a reduced income), I'll spend most of it (the time, not the income) gardening, meeting writer friends for coffee, cleaning my house and being a homemaker in general, and I won't write any more than I do now. I'm afraid of ME!

Here's where I am tonight: I'm banking on the promises of part of Psalm 16: "O Lord, you have given me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure; the boundaries have been laid out for me in pleasant places. Surely I have a good inheritance..." [the Janice-phrased version]. I believe that if I'm meant to keep working as a teacher, the right half time job will present itself. If it doesn't, then I intend to throw myself on the mercy of the court of Heaven and believe that "my lot" is "secure," even if I'm living on less $$ initially.

Sorry this has been such a long message. If I go back and edit it, this will be the only writing I do tonight!!

Would love to see you whenever you're in the Orlando area. We can have coffee on Park Ave. in WP, where I live.

See? There I go again! Suggesting I meet a writing girlfriend for coffee. Sheesh! God sure has his work cut out for him when it comes to getting me in line!

Janice Elsheimer

Jeanette Hanscome said...

I totally relate!

I have written for teens for years and now feel that God is calling me to write for adults. Like you, teens are my comfort zone. I have written a lot of articles and devotions for adults but since all of my books have been for teens I feel like a poser--like I'm waiting for that moment when I'm exposed as NOT being part of the club. "Wait, what are you doing writing for us. Didn't you write those Brio books?"

Life experiences have also changed my writing, so I feel freaked out times 2! Thanks so much for posting this and telling all of us CANers about it. It's just what I needed.

Jeanette (Hanscome--I guess there are 2 Jeanette's in CAN now)