Rene, Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview. I know you must be busy with all the new projects you’re working on. For the latest information on Rene's up coming releases visit her webiste www.renegutteridge.com
I’ve heard you speak several times, and your testimony of how you broke into the business has been a great encouragement to me. Can you share a bit about that ?
Not too many years ago I found myself pregnant with my first child, maintaining a drama ministry at my church, and trying to get a handle on the tremendous passion I had inside of me to write. I was seven months pregnant. I was tired of getting all the rejection letters. I was so confused, because I had this passion that I was certain was from God. Yet nothing was happening. Absolutely nothing. Or I would get really close only to fail. I was unsure, anyway, how I was going to balance all the writing time with a new baby.
It was a cold February night, around 3 a.m., when I rose from an already restless sleep. I got down on my knees in the middle of the living room, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. And I said, "I can't do it any more, Lord. I can't keep going to the mailbox everyday with my hopes up that there will be a positive letter from a publisher. I can't keep writing things that nobody will ever see. I'm done. I'm finished with it. If you want me to be a writer, then it's in Your hands. I know You can make it happen, but I can't." I rose, and went to bed.
That night I slept better than I had for years. Literally like a baby. And I felt a tremendous peace, I think mostly because I didn't feel the burden any more. I had convinced myself that God wanted me to be a mother, and that the sacrifice I was going to make to be a mother was my writing career.
Well, the rest is history. My son was five weeks old when I got the call from the publisher that they wanted Ghost Writer.
Wow! Everytime I hear that story I am encouraged knowing that God is the one who has to do the work, and all I have to do is hand my dreams over to Him. There is definitely peace in giving up that kind of control! I'm still learning how to walk in that peace.
Is there any advice you would give to young moms pursing publication who are feeling the weight of rejections?
Don’t give up! Every writer, mom or not, feels the weight of rejections. We often feel like, “Well, if I didn’t have to mess with the kids, this dream might happen for me.” Remind yourself that kids or no kids, God’s will is going to be done in your life. The writers journey is filled with rejection. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it.
You’re a mom to two small kids, a best selling author, and a wife. How do you do it all?
Some days I don’t do it all. Some days I’m on top of my game. I have a friend in California who keeps saying, “I look at you and I don’t see how you do it all.” I tell her, “No, you don’t look at me. You hear me over the phone. If you saw my house you would see I don’t do it all!”
I hear you! Add homeschooling to a writing moms life and you've got C.H.A.O.S. Can't Have Anyone Over Syndorme. I stole that from the FlyLady.
So, how do you balance everything?
Everything falls apart when I’m not close to God. I’ll go through a season where I put off my daily prayers and Bible reading, and I can feel it. My focus strays and everything comes unwound.
When do you write, and do you ever feel like you’re neglecting your children?
I don’t feel like I’m neglecting them. I spend a ton of time with them. I think it’s good for them to see me working, and I often explain to them how much hard work my husband and I do to make sure they live in a warm house and have food. As for finding the time, it’s what every writer must conquer: self-discipline. Whether or not you have kids, you still have to find that discipline.
There are plenty of things to take you away from the story. And it’s easy to do when the story isn’t moving like you think it should. It’s easier to go in and turn on Oprah or whatever. I write two hours in the morning and some on the weekends. I owe a lot to my husband, who is very helpful in this area. He watches the kids a lot.
How do you handle interruptions in your writing life?
I just roll with them. It doesn’t really break my flow. In fact, sometimes it actually helps! If I miss a writing time, I try to make it up, but I don’t panic. Kids get sick, cars break down, you just have to go with the flow. I’m getting better at this the older I get!
How do you get back into the flow of writing after you’ve been interrupted?
I basically just re-read the paragraph I was working on. It usually starts clicking. Long ago I had to abandon the idea that I can only write when I feel inspired. That’s a MYTH! You must write when you don’t feel inspired, which is most of the time! Or, like with me, inspiration hits when I can’t get near a computer!
How do you position yourself to HEAR God’s voice when all the noises of life are swirling around you?
I try to listen, all day long. I talk to God a lot, pray, trust Him to lead me the right way.
If you feel your priorities slipping, what do you do to get back on track?
Pray! Read my Bible! Pray! It’s the only way I’ve found.
Has there ever been a time God told you to set aside your writing to focus on other areas of your life? If so, how did you handle that?
Not really. This is my profession, it’s how I make a living, so it’s a part of my everyday life. Early on I gave up my writing dreams, before they even got started, to God. It felt so good to give it all to Him. My priorities can slip very easily, and I think if they got too messed up, God would take drastic measures. But so far, I haven’t had to put writing aside.
I’ve heard many published authors say that once they got published they lost their joy for writing. Has that ever happened to you?
Nope. There are hard days, really hard days. Sometimes I sit and wonder who in the world I think I am doing this writing thing. But I’ve never lost the joy. I’m working on my eleventh novel right now, and it’s as fun as the day I started.
I know God’s timing is perfect, but if you had to do it all over again in regards to being published and raising your kids, what would you do differently?
I think I’d be more laid back. I’m kind of tightly wound, a little high strung. But a lot of that part of my personality allowed me to the adrenaline to get through. I do struggle with stress, though. I like taking the world onto my shoulders and seeing how much I can hold. Not a good thing.
Rene, thanks so much for this wonderful glimpse into your life. You'r journey is an inspiration to writing moms everywhere.