Writing for the Soul
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When you’re six weeks pregnant and a football-sized tumor entangles vital organs in your chest, life has taken an unexpected turn.
Ten years and a slew of near-death experiences later, I was a heart transplant candidate. Nothing ignites inspiration like a ticking clock.
For years, friends who knew of my experiences invited me to speak at church functions. Afterward I often heard, “Do you have a book I can purchase?” I’d shake my head. I could never write a book.
But God placed in my life people who kept whispering encouragement. So when various advertisements crossed my path about a writers conference with that Left Behind guy, Jerry B. Jenkins, I finally caved.
Months before the event, I submitted to the Guild’s critique service an action-packed chapter I was sure would win over any editor. After all, I’d spent endless hours writing three whole pages. When my work returned, covered with revision suggestions, I slumped in my chair.
Soon my type-A personality made me read books on writing, study successful memoirs, and research bestselling fiction. I wanted to know what sold and why.
I arrived at the 2010 Writing for the Soul conference a shaking mess. How did I ever end up sitting with a bunch of people who not only understood what a dangling modifier was, but also knew why you’re not supposed to use one?
Then it happened. Two editors slid me their business cards.
Once home, I emailed out my proposals, then wrote day and night, praying.
For more than a year, I edited and re-edited chapters. I took part in monthly critique groups and my voice quivered with each public reading. But after each encounter I came away with candid tips from other aspiring writers.
In the meantime, both editors rejected my proposal.
I would have quit, but a Christian newspaper had just offered me a freelance writing position. Tears filled my eyes the day I opened my first check and realized someone had paid me to play with words.
Two years later, my proposal updated with writing clips and mentoring through the Guild’s Apprentice course, I attended the 2012 Writing for the Soul conference much more prepared. I prayed for God’s will each time I pitched my book, tentatively titled She’ll Never Make it Through the Night: The nine lives of Dabney.
Thursday following the conference, I emailed a thank-you to the first interested publisher. Before I drafted my second and third follow-up emails, Tyndale responded. The editor said she was trying to track me down. (I’d walked away from our fifteen-minute appointment with my bio sheet, and my sample chapters failed to include my contact information. I hope my Apprentice mentor forgives me.)
The editor suggested I forgo submitting a proposal, but asked if I would consider emailing her the full manuscript—that day.
My face paled the moment I hit Send. I knew many errors lurked throughout my unedited chapters.
A week later, Tyndale offered a contract.
I still feel unworthy. But this whirlwind experience of unexpected twists and supernatural outcomes matches my crazy life. Whether surviving heart failure or writing a book, it has never been about me or my abilities. I simply believe God enjoys choosing unlikely characters to fulfill His plan.
An author, speaker, and professional medical patient who calls West Palm Beach home, Dabney Hedegard writes for the Good News South Florida, schools four children, and enjoys playing around at dabneyland.com.
Photo credit: Janaka Dharmasena