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The familiar words jump out at me from my editor’s email. My novel has worked its way to the top of his pile. He is ready for my manuscript! My heart pounds. Excitement and terror simultaneously course through my veins. It is time!
Is it really ready? Do I have everything exactly as I want it? What might need to be changed? Should I go through the entire thing one more time?
But now there is an accompanying emotion, because this is my third novel. There is grief. I am also mourning. Today I say goodbye to my characters as they are in their pristine form. Only my beta readers and I are acquainted with them. We have shaped them.
I have tweaked them and cavorted with them. I have felt their emotions, cried alongside them, considered each from the eyes of the other, grown with them, and loved them. They are mine.
This will now end. My editor will slash and burn if necessary. He will cut away some of my favorite descriptions and statements from their mouths. He will wonder why Avery’s clothes are important. He will slash some of Prentis’s inner thoughts. They will be reformed and strengthened and sanctified by his editorial eye. They will die to be reborn anew. And then they will arrive in their final form, never to be altered again, immortalized in print.
The editor will do whatever is necessary for the story.
I trust him entirely. We have a great working relationship. We will haggle. I, like Jesus, will sit at his right hand and intercede for my people. Writing has taught me a lot about sanctification and the necessary life changes God brings into my life.
Until I became an author, I never understood the intentionality that goes into the creation of a story. Now, I’m afraid I drive my husband crazy, because throughout television series and movies I announce periodically which way the author of the script will now take the story.
The characters must suffer, not only for their own good, but for the glorious purpose of the story.
It’s easy to forget that God has created us, delighted over us, and cherished us individually, while at the same time weaving our life events together with all the other “characters” of His divine story of love and redemption. We play our part. He perfects our individual character, works all things together for our good and the good of others, and creates us to impact His Story.
So, as I take my last peek at the manuscript before I send it to the editor, I’m mindful of the larger picture, the bigger view of life on this planet. We have been written into the greatest story ever told, the story of a God who loves so much that He came down to be one of the characters, the One who would die for the people, so that we might be redeemed.
As part of His story, He has gifted and equipped us, dear writers. We couch His story within our tales in subtle and inviting ways, shown rather than stated as theological fact, delivered with emotion to woo the reader and to draw them toward the Savior, the One who loves so fiercely and completely.
This is why we write.
The sacrifice of losing control of the manuscript and having our precious words slashed and revised is necessary. It’s a small offering compared to the sacrifice of the One who was slashed and crucified, but it’s our small way to be a part of His Story, to proclaim what He has done, and to use the gifts He has given for this purpose.
And so, dear writer, go forth and write.