Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Story Never Dies

In 2011, I semi-finaled in the Genesis contest. While I didn't advance any further, I thought, wow, THIS story is something. And I was told by other authors, “You'll be fine in your ACFW appointments, you're a semi-finalist”. I felt like my story was the golden ticket to catching the eye of that agent who'd take me to publication.

Well, imagine the sob fest--and there absolutely was one in the St. Louis hotel elevator area where I'd called my husband--after I heard over and over again, “This will never sell.” And imagine the mourning that took place for those dear characters who'd become my greatest friends?

I felt like I walked away from the 2011 ACFW conference laying to rest a story that I had loved and cherished, but was as good as slush to everyone in the industry.

Fast-forward to present day...FIVE YEARS LATER. Most of my stories are sitting stale and quiet in the bottom of my “drawer”. And it's not for lack of trying. Some have been thoroughly shopped around by my fantastic agent, and while we've had some close calls, we're still waiting on “the” call for most of them.
If you'd have told me that I might have a chance with those stories that went in and out of editorial meetings, I'd have told you, “It doesn't work that way”. We've all heard that there are no second chances in the land of publishing, haven't we?

But we've also got a BIG God on our side as Christian writers, and my God IS the God of second chances. And just because we're told the finites of a story advancing through, or being tossed out by publishers, doesn't mean that our story is dead forever.

It just means that its first chance is over.

Don't say farewell to those characters yet. Just remember God had you write that story for a reason. And sometimes, His timing has nothing to do with the moments after you hit “send”, but it might be planned for months—or years—after The End is written.

I am here to tell you from recent experience. I'd laid a story to rest—thinking that it might only be one for my children to read some day. And suddenly, FOUR YEARS after I'd written this particular story, the publishing industry swung open a random door, and an opportunity arrived that made this old story seem like a perfect fit.

Yes, folks, that old story is seeing some movement. It's catching an eye. Even after it had been shopped, and its first chance SPENT, long ago.

This is the season of second chances for me. When I was a newbie writer, I didn't know there was such a thing. I was skeptical of the advice given by many experienced industry professionals, “Write what's on your heart, not what the market wants. Who knows what changes are ahead for the market?” It didn't make sense. If I took a story and sent it out and it was rejected, that's it, right?


I suggest you DO write what's on your heart. If God's shaping a story there, then write. Don't worry about details like market and publishing. There's a reason you've been called to write it. And you'll find out the first time around, or in God's perfect second chance.

If this resonates with you at all, check out Laurie's post Write the Story Anyway. Don't give up!
Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she writes historical novels and has recently sold a story to Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical. Angie is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Check out her personal blog at and connect at:
Twitter: @angiedicken


Jill Kemerer said...

I'm so with you on writing the story of your heart AND having a sob-fest at ACFW! Thanks for sharing--looking forward to hearing good news about this second chance!

Angie Dicken said...

Jill, Sorry this is such a late response. The day got away from me yesterday. You are such a fabulous encourager. Sob fest at ACFW seems to occur each year for me. LOL! It's because we do pour our hearts in our stories, right? Thanks for stopping by.