Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Tenacity Interviews - Virginia Smith

I can tell you from first hand experience, Virginia Smith is a ball of creative energy. I know you'll enjoy spending some time with her today and will be encouraged in your own writing journey.

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel, Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted ten novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom, Stuck in the Middle, and her newest releases, A Taste of Murder and Age before Beauty. In March of 2008 she was named "Writer of the Year" at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truths in Star Trek." To watch a video trailer of Age before Beauty and to check out Ginny’s other books, visit http://www.virginiasmith.org/

Links to purchase:
Age before Beauty is available wherever books are sold. Purchase a copy online at ChristianBook.com or Amazon.com.

1) How long did you write before being published? How many rejections?
I wrote for more than twenty years before my first publication. And I received 143 rejections – I know, because I saved every one in a file folder. (A very big one!)

2) Why didn’t you just throw your hands in the air and say “forget it!”
Several reasons. First, because I’d surrounded myself with others who encouraged me. I was a member of a very active critique group, and they kept me going. Second, because I love writing so much I can’t imagine stopping. And third, because I truly believed that the Lord placed the desire to write in my heart, and I trusted Him to use my writing in whatever way He wanted. I sincerely hoped He wanted me to publish, but with every rejection I reminded myself, “If God wants me to write stuff that nobody except my mother and my critique group reads, that’s okay.”

3) Did you have a motto/saying/scripture/mantra that helped you through the tough times? What was it, and how did you use it?
My mom gave me a bumper sticker that I kept on the wall above my desk. It read: “It will happen. You only have to keep believing.” I can’t tell you how many times I’d sit at my desk and read that saying, and lecture myself not to give up. (Of course, that bumper sticker was right next to another one that read, “I was a nice person before a house fell on my sister.” LOL!)

4) How does your tenacity work for you now?
I have difficult moments with every book. There comes a time during the writing of every novel when I think, “I can’t do this. I don’t know how to resolve this novel. I don’t even like the character, so how can I expect anyone else to like her?” When I get to that part, I remind myself that I’ve been there before and I always get through it. And I pray – a lot. Those times are when I recommit the story to God, and confess to Him, “I really don’t have anything worth saying. But You do. Can You help me out here?” And He always does.

5) What have you learned since being published?
I’ve learned that success isn’t measured by publication. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in being published, but that doesn’t make me successful. Being successful has to do with letting God accomplish tasks through me and in me, and in remembering that writing is my profession—not my life. It’s an important thing I do, but it’s not the most important thing.

6) Where will your tenacity take you next?
The publishing industry is in a state of uncertainty, along with all the other industries. I’m concentrating on making it through a tough time ahead. I’ll keep writing, keep proposing new books, keep communicating with readers, and keep doing the tasks God gives me to do. I hope He’ll allow me to write books that give people hope in difficult situations.

7) What encouragement do you have for a writer who just received a “no” from a publisher?
Don’t give up! And save all those rejection letters – every single one of them. Right now they’re really painful, but one day you’ll wear them like a badge of honor, a sort of proof that you paid your dues. If I can persevere, so can you. When the mailman delivers another rejection, permit yourself fifteen minutes of teeth-gnashing. Yes, that’s all – fifteen minutes. If it’s a particularly painful rejection, you may have twenty. Then pick yourself up, dust off your britches, and get back to work.
Where will your tenacity take you today?
I bid you goo writing.

1 comment:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I like how Virginia admits she struggles with every book. My non-fiction book was a struggle, mostly because I'd never done one, but I had one fiction novel that I thought would never end...

We just have to trust that God's words will shine through us.

L. Diane Wolfe