As most of you already know, I am hosting guest bloggers each Friday this month (you can see the complete schedule at the bottom of this post), and today I am happy to introduce you to Dave Fessenden. Dave blogs over at Concept to Contract, and has a ton of great tips to offer on writing Christian non-fiction.
Why did you become an author?
I’m honored to have Dave share his journey with us here:
I was approaching high school graduation and I began to get a bit nervous. What did I want to do with my life? (As an impatient seventeen-year-old, I just had to have an immediate and comprehensive answer to that question.) Sure, I could enter college with an undeclared major; everyone was doing that. But I knew myself well enough to realize that I couldn’t survive even a semester in college without a clear plan — a goal, a vision.
Everyone I knew would respond to my dilemma with the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” Good question. What did I like to do so much that I could see myself doing that day in and day out for forty years? A musician? A pastor? A teacher? (I envied Li’l Abner’s job as a mattress tester, but I doubted I could make a career out of that!)
It took a while before I realized I was asking the wrong question. The question I needed someone to ask me (and what I eventually learned to ask myself) was, “What does God want you to do with your life?” I had given my life to Christ a few years earlier, and had recently made the shocking discovery that this new life was no part-time hobby, but a total, lifetime commitment. If I was going to be a follower of Christ, I could no longer strike out on my own; it was not right for me to decide about my future without seeking God’s will on the subject.
What a relief! Instead of finite little me making my arrogant plans about an unknown future, I could leave it in the hands of the infinite God, who knows the future. So I bowed my head and prayed,”Dear God, what do You want me to be?”
The answer was immediate and clear: “How about a writer?”
It seems odd to me now that such a thing had never occurred to me before. I loved reading; I was fascinated with the interplay of words, in poetry and prose; and I enjoyed being able to express my ideas and explain concepts. Not only that, but I realized my favorite assignments in school, and the ones I did best at, involved writing.
As I later discovered, helping others get their ideas down on paper was just as fascinating and rewarding to me as working on my own writing projects, so editing and publishing soon became joint interests and callings. After thirty years of doing this, my love for words, books, writing and helping other writers has not dimmed. In fact, all these loves seem to have culminated in my latest book, Writing the Christian Nonfiction Book: Concept to Contract.
Has God called you to write? Your experience may not be exactly like mine, but if you’re brimming with writing ideas, and itching to put words on paper, ask the Lord what He wants to do with that desire. Every idea should be scrutinized by prayer. Inspiration and creativity are no proof of God’s favor. The Tower of Babel was a creative project, but it sure didn’t have God’s approval!
The writing ideas that are truly inspired by God, however, may start out small, but soon they come on strong and develop a life of their own. And because God is sovereign, there is nothing you can do to “make” them come. The only thing you can do is be faithful—be the kind of person that God can trust His ideas with.
About the Author:
David E. Fessenden is senior editor/acquisitions for CLC Publications, the U.S. publishing house for CLC Ministries International (formerly Christian Literature Crusade). Dave has a B.A. in journalism, an M.A. in religion, and over 25 years of experience in writing and editing. Before beginning his ministry with CLC, he launched an editorial consulting business after 12 years on the staff of Christian Publications, Inc., the majority of that time as managing editor. In previous positions Dave served on the communications staff of Elim Bible Institute and was editor of a regional edition of the largest Protestant weekly newspaper in the country.
Dave has published five books and contributed study guides and discussion questions for works by authors such as A.W. Tozer and Andrew Murray. He has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and edited numerous books. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences, was an instructor for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild, and did a ten-year stint as a regular columnist for Cross & Quill, a Christian writers’ newsletter. Dave also conducts Sunday school teaching workshops based on his book, Teaching with All Your Heart. His latest book, Writing the Christian Nonfiction Book: Concept to Contract, was published by Sonfire Media in June.
Dave and his wife, Jacque live in the Philadelphia area and have two adult sons.
Guest Blogger Schedule:
Today: Dave Fessenden
November 18th: Gail E. Dudley
November 25th: Dennis De Rose