by Deborah Raney
I will soon celebrate the 20th anniversary of the day I wrote the first words of the first prologue of my first novel. It has been a wonderful two decades full of adventure and surprises–and adjustments. Almost ten years into my pursuit of being a “real” writer, my job as a novelist had finally begun to be more than a part-time job. I had multiple contracts and my calendar was filling up with speaking engagements. We had two of our four kids in college and one still at home, and I was feeling conflicted about being a full-time mom while trying to also be a full-time writer so we could pay those hefty tuition bills. The writing life wasn’t quite the bowl of cherries it had seemed at first, and I was letting a lot of things distract me from what I had originally trusted to be a calling.
One morning I was praying–feeling overwhelmed and pouring my heart out to the Lord about a pressing deadline. I asked Him what I should be doing. I rarely write down my prayers, but for some reason, this time I went to my computer and began to type the words I was praying. God answered my prayer that morning, and I’ve gone back to pray those same words many times in the years since. This prayer is personalized (you may not share my tendency to be a little lazy, for instance). Still, I hope this prayer might express the fears and desires of other writers at various stages in your careers. As you adapt it for your own situation, I trust God will meet you with the same comfort and peace He gave me that morning. For without him directing our fingers on the keyboard, we are nothing more than noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. This is my prayer for a Christian writer:
Father God, quiet my heart and clear my mind this morning, and help me focus on this story You’ve given me to write. Keep me from anything that would distract from the work I need to accomplish, but also let Your Spirit within me discern what is truly a needless distraction and what is important enough that it should distract me. In my striving, never let me put project above people or worldly gain above things that are eternal.
As I write, Lord, guard me from my tendency to laziness. Nudge me to dig as deep as necessary in researching my story; remind me to use all the tools at my disposal so that I handle the language in a correct, yet creative way. At the same time, don’t let me focus so harshly on one “tree” that I never make it through the “forest.”
Lord, I know that as I write this book–a book that won’t be published for many months–even now, You are preparing hearts that will one day read my words. So let every word I write accurately reflect Your truth and Your precepts. Supernaturally imbue my writing with that quality which, by Your Spirit, will woo souls to You. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.
Deborah Raney, July 29, 2002
Deborah Raney’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Since then, her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Deb’s newest novels are The Face of the Earth from Howard/Simon & Schuster and her Christmas novel, Silver Bells from Guideposts. She is currently working on The Chicory Inn Novels, a five-book series for Abingdon Press Fiction. Deb enjoys teaching at writers’ conferences across the country. She and her husband, Ken Raney, recently traded small-town life in Kansas –the setting of many of Deb’s novels–for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the Web at www.deborahraney.com.