Throughout my journey as an author, I’ve come to realize that writers need many things. None, however, as important as these two: A broken watch. And a giant piece of chocolate.

The broken watch is to represent the fact that in the publishing industry, time doesn’t just crawl. Sometimes, it ceases to exist altogether. If you write, you know that an author might actually spend more time waiting to hear back from an editor or agent on her proposal or manuscript than she did writing the entire book in the first place.

Which is, of course, where the chocolate comes in.

For me, I’ve needed chocolate since day one. I was creating and making up stories before I even hit the second grade Sunday school room at my church. Reading and writing have always been in my blood. I remember sitting in my house as a little girl, surrounded by books on all sides and crying because I couldn’t read them yet! My mom used to laugh at me (gently, of course) because I would get so worked up about something that wasn’t ready to happen. But in my little-girl opinion, I was so ready to read that I would pretend to do so anyway (stubbornness, also, might be in my blood) and I began to make up what the foreign words meant on the page. A head-start to my creativity? Only God knows for sure.

And only God knew when I was truly ready to begin my journey. I remember the day my dad brought home our first computer. I stared in awe at the complicated gadgets before me, totally overwhelmed. With all my seven-year-old genius, I pecked on the keys as if they might bite me. Little did I know this strange contraption would later become of one my best friends. Slowly but surely, I began hacking out poems and short stories on those intimidating keys. Most of the time, I didn’t finish them—I lost interest halfway through and started a new project. But it was progress, a taste of what would come in my future. I also started a diary, won awards in elementary school for reading the most books of the entire class and placed in my school spelling bee. Words always meant a lot to me, in a variety of forms. Later, I fell in love with young adult books, and even tried writing my own version of a Baby-Sitters Club story. (which is one book no one will ever read, trust me!)

All along, looking back, I can clearly see God’s fingerprints on my life, lovingly guiding me in the right direction. I picture Him smiling down in amusement at my attempts to write over the years, shaking His head and saying “Oh, just wait. You have no idea the plans I have for you.” God had a specific path for me all along, and when I was ready, the pieces began falling into place.

I got serious about my writing when I turned eighteen. I joined writers groups, started building friendships with other authors, and attended conferences—quite the step from a shy little girl hiding behind her books! Basically, God lifted me straight out of my comfort zone and plopped me down in the middle of my biggest fear—and my biggest dream-come-true. My first Christian fiction novel, a romantic suspense titled Midnight Angel, was published last January by The Wild Rose Press.

It’s been an exciting journey so far—a stressful, scary, nerve-wracking, exhilarating journey—but the best part is, I’ve only just begun to understand how the world of publishing works. I continue to grow every day in my craft, and continue to stretch myself to new limits. I’ve learned that staying in my comfort zone might indeed be comfortable, but it won’t get me anywhere. I don’t believe God ever calls any of us to stand still, but rather to keep a death-grip on His hand and walk by His side wherever He leads.

One of my favorite quotes is by E. L. Doctorow. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”  If you think my characters don’t talk to me, ask my husband. He’s heard me talk back! Reassuring my characters that the house that just exploded is actually a good thing, and that the bad guy chasing them won’t catch up and they’re safe (for now! Heh heh) and that the love interest they wish would pursue them will do so in due time. In the same way I pictured God smiling down at me over the years, I often smile at my characters. “Just wait… you have no idea what I have planned for you.”

But just as my characters often talk back to me, how many times have we talked back to God? You see, it’s not my character’s job to figure out story length, or watch for grammar and punctuation mistakes. It’s not my character’s job to create that important plot line or to mind their point-of-view or incorporate conflict or any of those things that I as the author must deal with. That’s my job. And in our lives, it’s God’s job. He sees the entire picture. He knows the end of the story, and how many pages are in the book.