(This is an updated version to the blog post written in September 2005.)
Anticipation filled the banquet room, sparking with the electricity of hopes and dreams. Thoughts swirled in my head. Am I really a writer? Or am I just fooling myself?
The place was the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The year was 2005. At the beginning of each conference, Barbour Publishing presents a contract publically to an unpublished author. This, of course, elicits enough electrons and protons from all the participants to light up the Grand Ole Opry.
My journey to publication began in 2002 when I won the unpublished prose contest at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for my entry, “If Anyone Hears My Voice.” I clearly heard God clapping as I accepted that certificate, and He asked, "What are we going to write next, Kathy?" At that point I knew I had the ultimate writing partner.
Writing has always been a big part of my life. I remember when, in my pre-kindergarten days, I would fidget in church. My mother would hand me a pencil and a piece of paper. I'd scribble and people thought I was creating toddler art. But I’m sure I was actually drawing word pictures, trying to get the stories in my head out where I could see them. What a glorious year it was when I learned how to spell! In my faltering, baby-step writing, I managed to write a poem. "The Fat Cat in the Black Top Hat." This endeavor garnished some income. I sold hand-written copies of that poem to my friends, complete with a drawing of a fat cat in a black top hat that looked more like a dusty snowman with whiskers. I charged a nickel and I made 25 cents. This, in my mind, made me a published author.
As I sat in that banquet room during the ACFW 2005 conference in Nashville, Tracie Peterson, then editor of the Heartsong Presents line for Barbour Publishing, took her place behind the dais. Adrenaline buzzed in my ears so forcefully I could barely hear her. “This year, I’d like to present a new contract to. . .”
May I just stop here and bring this all into perspective? "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4.) The Message takes this further: "Keep company with God, get in on the best. Open up before God, keep nothing back; he'll do whatever needs to be done: He'll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don't bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top" (Psalm 37:4-7, emphasis mine.) It's my obedience that will clear the way for God to minister through me. I don't need to worry about the next project or the next book contract. If I'm still before God, if I listen to His voice, He will take my career to where He wants it to be.
I received my first contract that day for Merely Players when Tracie called my name. The nagging thought just prior—Am I just fooling myself?—fizzled into dust. God validated me. I am a writer.
And God is my writing partner.
A follow up to this celebrated day: As of July 2013, I have written seven books. Six for Barbour and one self- published and co-written with Paula Moldenhauer. To see a list of all my books, please visit my Website.
A word to those who are wondering when your validation will come: Understand that publication isn’t the only way God validates. Be open to those moments when God says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”