Becoming a Professional
Now that you've discovered you can write, it's time for some soul-searching. What do you really want to do with your gift?
It's important to realize that fame and fortune may lead you into a path contrary to God's will and blessing. Talking to a secular publisher about a historical novel I wanted to write, I told him I didn't want any sex or violence added to it. He was interested in the book until I said that. He commented that it might be better for me to seek a Christian publisher. That was a watershed experience for me. The choice was mine: go with God or go with the worldly way of success. Choosing to do it God's way changes our thinking, aspirations and decisions concerning our writing. That doesn't mean a Christian writer cannot be published in a secular magazine or by a secular publisher.
However, the writer should be aware of the problems that may come up and prepare for them. There are many good secular publishers and many magazine opportunities for sharing one's faith. To write for God does not mean always writing about God. It does mean that the writer decides to glorify God by the best writing possible on any given subject.
Professionalism is a way of life. A publisher looks for neat, well-written manuscripts that use proper grammar, correct spelling and the required format. Each publisher demands a certain type of format and style and expects the writer to know what he or she wants. Later, we will discuss manuscript preparation.
A publisher wants to know that the writer is familiar with that company's books or magazines and understands the needs of that particular publishing house. Reading as much of that publication as possible is the best way to gain this knowledge. Most publications are available at the library.
What about grammar? Sometimes a refresher course at a community college or even a book studied at home can help.
Being professional is a mindset. Some people think you are a professional only when you have X-many manuscripts published. I respectfully disagree. One can be a professional from the beginning because one chooses to act, think and write in a professional manner. The published manuscripts are just a part of the package and they will come later. Although considering yourself a professional writer before you have met the published manuscript criteria is probably not wise, you can be a pro in your attitude, demeanor and actions right from the beginning.
When you choose to be all God wants you to be, you will respect yourself and what you do. Your gift will give great glory to the Lord when you give it your best. Just as with all things, writing takes time to perfect. By becoming a professional early in your career, you will be blessed and others will, too. The choice is yours.
Crystal J. Ortmann