I have a tale to tell. But it has to start from the end instead of the beginning in order to be merciful to everyone involved. I’ll divide it into parts or separate posts. This is part one.
Listen: Live to Tell by Madonna (clean)
I wanted to be a writer
In 2006, God began to train me more intensely than in the previous years of my life. I asked for it. I wanted to know more. My reasons for desiring this changed over time, but at first the reason was to be able to write an amazing story. I wanted to be a historical fiction writer. The first story I chose to tell was about the birth of Jesus Christ. So in 2000, I wrote “The Stone of Light, ” a story in which three kids from the present traveled back in time to when Joseph and Mary were just learning about their roles in His life. The kids experienced their own adventure and conversion story as they traveled with Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was like the Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osbourne meets Quantum Leap (the late 80s, early 90s television series). It was somewhat of a spin-off of the Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites series by Chris Heimerdinger as well as the Kingdom and the Crown series by Gerald Lund. It took me more than a year to research the setting with all of its geographical, geological, cultural, political, and economic details.
The rejection of a mentor was painful
When I finished writing it in 2001, I sent it to Deseret Book, and they rejected it. Then I sent it to Covenant Book, and they also rejected it. The reason this hurt me so badly was that I saw Deseret Book as part of my church community. And I had been predominantly raised by that community as mentioned in some of my previous posts. My sense of belonging to a family and community was here. They rejected my offering without much of a reason. I didn’t know what to do to improve it. This was difficult because I wanted to “play on the team” and I thought this was the only doorway in.
Additionally, I had a large library of books published by Deseret and Covenant that I had been reading for many years. These books changed my life for the better. I loved them. I read them to my kids. My kids loved them. We were a family that read together. We went on reading adventures together, laughed, cried, and learned. And that brought us closer together. It solved many of the problems we had been having. These stories played a huge role in raising me and my kids at the same time.
I owe so much to the publishers and to the authors of those books. As I said, in many ways they played a mentor role for me. Because of that, I wanted to become like them. I wanted to be a writer. That was my passion, my dream, and my mission. And this is why their rejections hurt so badly.
Back to the drawing board
So, after the rejections, I went back to the drawing board. I read more books on writing, attended writer’s conferences, started a writing group, and hired a writing coach. I learned a lot, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t enough to actually accomplish my goal.
At the BYU Writers for Young Readers conferences (2003, 2004, 2005), I experienced a type of rejection as well. Successful writers spoke to us in workshops about how successful they were. Some of these were the authors of the books that changed my life. I deeply admired them, but I also envied their success in my present failure.
In our group workshops I learned some good things, but in hindsight what I really needed was someone who believed in me, who saw my talent, and who could help me develop it. Instead, there was a lot of focus on criticizing what we were not doing right. Too much criticism and not enough support, hope, specific training, and reinforcement. After the 2005 writer’s conference, I returned home swearing I would never write again.