Finding My Focus

When I first started writing—I’ll admit that was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth!—I wrote anything and everything.  Whatever struck my fancy.  Whatever some editor or another told me was a hot topic.  Whatever interested a friend or acquaintance who passed the idea along to me.  I wrote magazine articles, books, screenplays, stuff for children, newspaper columns.  I wrote a real estate booklet, a report for an alcohol treatment center, third grade Sunday School curriculum, a short story for True Experiences Magazine. If someone mentioned it, I wrote it.

Actually, that shotgun type of writing was fun.  I learned so much about so many things!

I didn’t have an agent in those days.  An agent wasn’t so important back then.  But when I did finally decide to sign with one, my new agent said to me, “So, what is the basic thrust of your writing?”

“Which part of my writing?” I asked her.  She frowned. So I said, “Well, I guess I’d say relationships, self-help books and articles, family issues, fiction for children, Bible studies—”

 She stopped me right there.  I noticed that her eyes had seemed to have glazed over.  Her next words were clipped and stiff:  “If you want to progress as a writer, if you want anyone to remember your name, you need to write in one vein.”

One?  But I liked the variety to which I’d become accustomed.

“One!” she said.  “It is time you got focused.”

As God would have it, this ultimatum coincided with my first trip to West Africa for a book I was writing on slave ship captain turned minister-hymn writer-abolitionist John Newton, author of Amazing Grace.  So moving.  But slavery was an old-time issue.  At the same time, another book took me toIndia and China where I interviewed women of the persecuted church. 

Right before me was the thrust for my writing.  The foundation boards for a writers’ platform crying to be built.  My most recent eleven books have followed this theme of the global family of God, and the part we Westerners play in it. Five books have been non-fiction, the other six fiction  (Grace in Africa trilogy and Blessings in India trilogy).   I consider myself a 21st century abolitionist, and I love it! 

My penchant for wandering around in my writing?  Hey, that’s what a blog is for!

“The trouble with young writers is that they are all in their sixties.”

W. SomersetMaugham


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3 responses to “Finding My Focus

  1. Jeanette

    This post really encouraged me! I am still finding my focus. Many writer friends have urged me to draw more from my experiences living with low vision, pointing out the unique perspective that it gives me. (They are particularly fascinated with fact that I have never seen in color.) I sense God nudging me to do that too, I’m just not sure how to go about building an entire writing platform around it. I started with having my son change my website to black and white.

  2. Clever idea about the black and white website, Jeanette. Yay for sons and daughters who can do such things!

    • Jeanette

      Thanks! Christian had fun doing it. At first I wondered if people might think it looked weird, but I was pleasantly surprised by the response.

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