Monday, October 13, 2008

God-incidence, Part Two

I’ve encountered many fellow writers at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference who are in the same predicament in which I found myself in 2004. God had stirred the gift of writing within me, and I had produced a manuscript that I thought was ready for publication. The problem: I didn’t know what to do with the finished product.

Like so many others, I prayed a prayer of surrender: “Lord, I know nothing of the publishing industry nor of the publishing process, have no clue how to even submit a manuscript. You’ll have to handle this one.”

In July of that year my wife and I and some other family members traveled to a Southern Gospel music festival at the other end of our state. Though I respect the genre, Southern Gospel is not one of my favorite types of music (I prefer contemporary), but I went along with the rest of the gang anyway.

The event was held at an older civic center, and the various artists had set up their product tables in the main concourse. I glanced at the tables as the crowd pushed through to the main arena. Near the arena entrance was a booth that seemed out of place. It was sponsored by Pathway Press, which is run by my denomination. I was familiar with their magazines, Church of God Evangel and Youth and Christian Education Leadership, and with some of their other work.

I recognized one of the ladies working the booth as Wanda Griffith, whose photo and bio always accompanied her articles. She was the editor of YCE Leadership and a frequent contributor to Evangel. It hit me—at the time, Griffith was also the book editor at Pathway.

The book editor.

As I walked to my seat, front row in the bleacher section, I “worked myself into a tizzy,” as we say in my neck of the woods. I had prayed to God for guidance, and here was the only book editor I had ever heard of.

I proceeded to voice my thoughts to my wife, who surely thought I was crazy: “I know it’s her . . . should I go talk to her . . . I wonder if God wants me to meet her . . . what should I say . . . what if she wants to see my manuscript . . . what if she thinks I’m a kook . . .”

In the midst of my tizzy I looked up and saw Griffith and her sister standing right in front of me. It was almost time for the show to start, and they couldn’t find their seats. I asked if I could help. As I guided them to their seats, I mentioned that I was a regular reader of Wanda’s work and that I had a manuscript that I would like Pathway to consider.

If I remember correctly, I believe I began the conversation by blurting out, “I’m a writer!” So much for being cool, calm, and collected.

Despite my undignified beginning, Griffith was very gracious and told me to mail her the manuscript when I got home. We chatted again later in the weekend as well.

So began a wonderful working relationship and an e-mail friendship. During her time at Pathway Griffith published two of my articles in YCE Leadership. She loved my original manuscript and took it to “committee,” but Pathway had experienced a change in direction and no longer published that type of material.

Since that initial meeting we have commiserated and celebrated via email, sharing prayer requests and praise reports. I even paired her up with the KCWC committee, and, in 2007, Griffith was a featured editor and faculty member at KCWC.

Griffith and I both agree that our meeting was not mere happenstance. Who else but God could arrange a meeting between a writer and an editor in a crowded arena at a Southern Gospel music festival?

Forgive me Emily Akin for stepping on your 5 Ws and 1 H, but, sometimes as Christian writers, we need to leave the “how” up to God. In 2004 I knew no one in publishing, but God sent me someone. I know now that God wants me to be obedient and to do the writing He has called me to do and then leave the rest up to Him. Through KCWC and other outlets I have learned more and more about the “ins and outs” of publication and what I need to do to become a better writer and to submit work to publishers, but, at the end of the day, it’s all in God’s hands.

That initial manuscript remains unpublished, but I’m trusting that God will send the right person into my life at the right time. He’s done it before, and He’ll do it again.

1 comment:

Emily M. Akin, writer-editor said...

No problem, Carlton. The "how" is not part of the Five W's I'm using to describe KCWC (who, what, when, where, why). How is a subject unto itself!