So, You’re Writing Fiction Now?
This blog is the first part of an answer to the question everyone asks: Why did you write the book? And the second part of their question which sounds more like a statement, “A series? That’s incredibly ambitious.”
To which I reply “Yep.”
Most friends and family know that I’ve dabbled in writing my whole life. Transparency is one of my personality traits and I talk a lot before I accomplish anything. And procrastination is one of my flaws. My dreams of writing a book has kept people rolling their eyes for years. I'm sure they've assumed I’m just day-dreaming, and that I’ll never do it. Wanna bet?
I suspect they believed I’d given up on the dream when I passed my sixth decade with no fruit to show. Nope. I’ve never given up.
I published my first book: Unequally Yoked: Staying Committed to Jesus and Your Unbelieving Spouse (Available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0791LJYX8 in 2018. It was a massive and extremely ambitious undertaking for a first project. But I did it. After this, I asked myself: What’s next? And I ran circles for a year trying to figure that out.
My first non-fiction book was an incredible research project to better understand my complicated and difficult husband and my faith-conflicted marriage. Publishing was more of a life goal accomplishment than any strategic marketing plan. I had no career ambitions at this point. But I started a facebook group to go along with the book and I still do weekly prayer and share with group members and provide supportive advice to others struggling in such challenging relationships. And the group keeps growing without my help. But after this book was published and the group started, I needed to ask myself: Is this my future direction? Do I want to expand on this, or should I try something different?
I knew I was a Christian author. That book branded me as a serious one. But did I want to stick with this genre? I mulled that around for a while and prayed for direction.
After weekly connections with my FB group, and several blogging attempts, I realized that everything I write has faith embedded in the content. Yep, that cross is tattooed on my heart. No doubt about it. I am definitely a Christian author.
And the other thing I enjoy doing while writing — you probably guessed it — is research. That's obvious with one look at my 280 page non-fiction masterpiece. So everything I write has research, lots and lots of research. Data collection takes time and results cannot be compiled quickly. So it seems that I write slow. Maybe I do. I don't really know. I shuffle to the speed of my own engine, not somebody else's whistle. I digress.
My next question was: Do I want to write fiction or nonfiction? There’s a huge market for devotionals and other inspiring Christian content. It’s also over-saturated. So, unless I want to pair this with podcasts and youtube videos and speaking engagements, I won't be earning enough in this genre to pay for the utilities.
I experimented with a devotional series for a bit. (You can check out my Amazon page here for my endeavors on that genre: https://www.amazon.com/Miranda-J.-Chivers/e/B0791MGZP7 ) I’ll likely contribute a few more in the future. I haven’t quit or given up on devotional or inspirational writings. It's just that right now I’m focused on working on this new fiction series.
I’m always up for studying something new. Dabbling in fiction seemed like a fun way to spend a few years while I struggled with making up my mind which way to swing.
I should add here, that during these past three years, I suffered through a health crisis affecting my eyes. I lost most of my eyesight for the better part of a year. It happened rather quickly and for months it seemed that all hope was lost. I was even using a white cane for a bit. It was a frightening experience, to say the least. I plan to write a book about that in the future. So, non-fiction will always play a bit part in my writing portfolio.
Then, in November, 2019 while on vacation, I tripped and fell, hitting my head and suffering a concussion, amongst multiple cuts and bruises. After an untimely visit to the ER, I discovered this injury imposed severe restrictions on reading, watching TV or working on the computer. So once again, my eyesight and my concentration were both affected for six months. But God is a good healer.
After that, I was ready to push back into my writing career. Despite vision limitations, I drafted one novel, but the plot wasn’t coming together; so, I started another. It got shelved as well. (A drawer full of unfinished novels is apparently common among fiction writers.) Then I found the proverbial hook to propel into writing Russian Mennonite Chronicles. And in less than a year, a planned series was born.
I’ll write more about this later.
Just an FYI. Writing is not an easy gig. It takes guts and determination and, above, perseverance. I only wish I’d persevered with more focus when I was younger. My name might be Stephen King by now. Alas, it never shall be.
My pen name is now MJ Krause-Chivers for the purpose of differentiating fiction from non-fiction. It’s a simple explanation. And I hope you’re good with that.
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Blessings. Until next time.