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Monday, August 16, 2010

The Writing Journey ~ Cara Putnam

Stars in the Night is Cara Putman’s ninth novel and tenth book. An attorney and sometimes lecturer at a Big Ten University, Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and three children. Find more information on Putman at

Writing is a journey.

Each writer’s journey is unique. Some shoot straight to the top, though if you talk to them you’ll learn there were years of hard work behind the scenes. Others start with small books, learn the craft, and slowly grow their career. Still more find their niche immediately and contentedly write there for years.

My friend Mary DeMuth in her memoir, Thin Places, challenges us to look for the Thin Places in our lives. Those moments “when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways. They are aha moments, beautiful realizations, when the Son of God bursts through the hazy fog of our monotony and shines on us afresh.”

For me, that is what the writing journey has been. Days of sitting, hands on the keyboard, tush in the chair, writing, writing, writing. Followed by moments when I can so clearly sense God’s presence and His pleasure as I write that it steals my breath. I sit back, savor the moment, and erect a stone of remembrance to carry me through the long days.

Writing is a life that is so often far beyond our control.

I control my research – kind of. Have I told you about the times God has led me to the perfect book at the perfect moment to seed my what-iffer with multitudes of potential ideas? I control my discipline. Will I sit in the chair day after day whether I feel like it? Will I meet my word count no matter how tired or uninspired I am?

But so much extends far beyond my control.

I can’t control the editors. I can’t control what their line needs at that moment. Or how my books and ideas will mesh with theirs.

I can’t control readers. Will they resonate with my writing? My stories? Will they catch the vision and spread the word?

I can’t control the timing. That the right publisher will like my book at the moment they have an opening for a book in my genre. But God does.

Stars in the Night was an idea that had begun to percolate in my mind. I’d written two World War II series and was actively looking for my next setting. My husband, a huge World War II history buff, and I were kicking ideas around, and I’d decided Hollywood was probably the next place for me. I’d gone to the library and gotten a stack of research books when I got the call. An editor I knew but had never worked with wanted to know if I might be interested in a new line they were starting. As we talked, I got so excited. And then she emailed me their guidelines, which listed that Hollywood was a location they were interested in setting books.

Only God could have known ahead of time. But because I followed His prompting I was ready to run with an idea. As Brennan Manning puts it in his book Ruthless Trust, “When the appropriate time comes, only the disciple with an unflinching trust in God will dare to risk.”

So while the writing journey can be nerve-wrecking, especially for someone who likes to control her destiny, I can rest and trust in the One who loves me and cares for me. All the while keeping my mind and heart open for the next idea while writing the current one.

In the process, this life is filled with Thin Places, where God’s love and presence transcends my life.


  1. So beautifully said, Cara. Thank you for your honesty, and for sharing part of your journey--very inspiring! I'm looking forward to meeting you next month!
    -Jennifer King

  2. Nice, Cara. Got to say it's been so much fun watching your journey from the first contract at acfw. This novel has such a beautiful cover and I normally dislike covers that have faces on them. This one is so tasteful and artsy. It stops me every time I see it to consider. Congratulations on your successes. Couldn't happen to a nicer woman.

  3. Thank you for this assurance. Truly God covers the people He calls. Why do we doubt He will?

  4. Great post, Cara.
    Thank you for sharing.

    I'm wriggling in God's hand about His timing.

    It's hard to contend with God, though, LOL, so I let go.

    I'm enjoying the journey He's set before me, and when I get antsy, I have to let go and let God. And I have to remember that He's always working behind the scenes.

    It may be 10 years before I publish, but it will be GOD's timing, and not mine.

    Nothing right will happen in MY timing, so thanks for the reminder on Who's really in control :)

  5. This is such a well written article. Thank you for providing us insurance. This is just one thing why I really love your blog.

  6. Thanks so much, Cara, for the mention of Thin Places and how it relates to your publishing journey. You're a gem!


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