Erin Taylor Young’s journey into writing, and the deep, has been far different than she thought it would be. And yet it’s been exactly what she needed.
The long way to becoming a writer…
When Erin became a Christian in college, she knew God was giving her a task of “saying something.”
“God burdened me, way back when. I knew I was going to do something that had something to do with ministering to others…I kept praying, ‘What is it I’m supposed to say, when am I supposed to say it?’ I did whatever God told me to do. I was playing guitar with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, I was writing songs…I think my sense of timing for humor writing came about because I was a songwriter. Not that I was a good songwriter, mind you, otherwise I would still be a songwriter…But I think that gives you a sense of timing. It’s so funny how God takes these little bits and pieces of your life…and [they] come full circle.
“All I did was try to be faithful along the way. And I’ve done some very odd things that had nothing to do with writing books…I have an art degree…I studied Greek…I have a masters degree in music theory and composition. This has nothing to do with writing, and yet, twenty-thirty years later, God pieced me into [a writer].”
The burden came in an incomplete form, but with each of these seeming detours, it filled in pieces until it was more complete, until Erin could see what it was God was calling her to do. She never doubted she had this call to speak things, to say things, she just didn’t know how she was supposed to do that.
“God laid this on my heart way back when, but brought it to fruition now.”
How Erin knew God specifically gave her the task of writing…
“It didn’t become very clear until I met you, Karen…When I’d realized I could write words without music, I’d started a journey of writing stories…and finally I felt led to go to my first writing conference…I prayed that God would tell me at this writing conference if this was something I should continue to pursue…God was so faithful to honor that. I met with a mentor there, Rene Gutteridge…and she said very specifically to me that she saw a lot of promise and that I’d need to work hard but that she thought I could make it in the writing business…It dinged in my head and I thought, that is God answering my prayer.”
“I went through this writing process continuing to be faithful. To learn. To work hard. To grow. And every so often I’d pray, ‘Okay God, should I still be doing this?’ And something would happen where He would very clearly give me that, ‘Yes, Erin, I still want you to pursue this.’”
Finally on the night Erin met Karen…“We walked out of the building and Karen looked at me and she said, ‘You have a gift’ …and that really struck me because it was another time when I was praying, ‘God, please tell me, am I supposed to continue on this journey?’ and the most astounding thing happened…I felt God clearly speaking in my heart, ‘Erin, you don’t have to ask anymore. From now on, if you don’t walk this writing journey, you’re being disobedient. You don’t have to keep asking. I’ll let you know if plans change.’”
On finding an agent…
“I had met Steve Laube much earlier and really respected him as a man of God and as an agent, and so I had already picked him out…I wanted him to be my agent…He knew me at this point and knew my writing. He had actually even complimented my writing…I had sent him a proposal of this dog book, and I prayed for eight solid weeks, with tears, with fasting. I prayed that Steve Laube would reject me if he wasn’t the right agent for me. Because it was so important to me to have the agent that God wanted me to have, even though I’d sort of picked Steve out…Eight weeks to the day, Steve sent me a really, really nice turn down…Disappointing as it was, I knew and I trusted that God had told him and had told me that this was not the right person for me. All I can say is that we hafta, hafta, hafta be willing to trust God for those things.
About hope in the face of rejection…
“I was talking at a writers conference once about how to have hope and still get rejections…You hope in God. You hope in what God wants to do, and that’s all I can say that I had [when Steve rejected me]. I knew that I knew that I knew that God would not let him offer me representation if it wasn’t right…You all have seen how much Karen and I enjoy working together. All of that would’ve been missed if I’d had some other agent instead of Karen. God had this prepared ahead of time and we could never have foreseen the friendship we’ve had or the sharing of hearts and burden for writers out there.”
On God’s Word…
“The single most valuable and influential thing in my growth as a Christian has been memorizing Scripture. It’s this deliberate intention of taking God’s Word in. And not just memorizing it, but thinking about what that verse means. How does that verse change the way I think about something? What does that verse say about this situation here? Nothing is too hard for God, for example, what does that mean, and how does that apply, and how does that change my thinking process about the life that I lead?
“I’ve found that eating God’s word in this way has been the most fruitful thing. I have grown so much closer to God. Because you can’t just memorize something and expect it to stay there in your brain forever. I figured that out early on. I needed to actually work on retaining the verses I learned. I came up with a way where I’d try to learn a new verse every week, but I would also review verses that I knew everyday.
“What I found through this practice is that Scripture is a part of me. I don’t have to hunt for my Bible when I want to pray, for example. I can pray a string from one verse to another verse to another verse as God brings them to mind. I can be thinking about them in the car…They’re always with me. And that has transformed me, because when you’re thinking and praying on the Word, what you’re doing is you’re looking at God. I heard a sermon from John Piper, and he said, “We become what we behold,” referring to 2 Corinthians 3:18, where with unveiled faces we’re beholding the glory of the Lord and being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another. And when we’re beholding God in His Word everyday, it can’t help but have a profound impact on who we are and how we reflect His glory to everyone around us.”
“When we can step back and say if nothing else, God will use this for His glory, God is taking me through deep places, God is doing what He wants to do, God is omniscient, God is omnipresent, God is sovereign, when we look at God, God, God, God, it’s so much easier to not look at me, me, me, me.
“What I’ve been learning, even just in the past weeks and months, is that the more I look at Him, the less I groan about me, and the less I feel entitled. The less I feel angry. It’s a continual process of submitting, submitting, submitting, but it’s so much easier when we’re considering who God is. When we’re looking at Him and His greatness and His glory. I think that’s what pulls me through. And that’s how we love others…God has been teaching me a lot lately about love. He’s been showing me how much His unfailing love is the bottom line of everything…and so we draw on God’s unfailing love. We hope in His unfailing love. We hope in who He is and what He does. And then it doesn’t matter so much if I don’t sleep for three days. I mean, it matters, but it doesn’t matter. Because it’s still about doing what I’m called to do everyday, leaning on Him, acknowledging my weakness, trusting that He’s going to enable me to do whatever tasks…The way to get through the deep is to look at God instead of at me, and trust Him to get me through whatever I need to do that day.”
When you feel that check in your spirit and it doesn’t make sense, but you feel the check and you’re obedient…sooner or later, when you find out why, it’s always that God had a better plan in mind.
Fruit from experiences…
“When we’re thinking of ourselves as writers, and the experiences that we go through, the things that we ‘collect’ along the way…they find their way into our books. My book about Henry was very much about unconditional love and about what happens when we begin to love. It’s funny how something from a book I wrote a few years ago, still, God is bringing more and more of that into my life today as fruit, as love being this ultimate thing we give to others. It’s like the fulfillment of who we are as Christians. That we learn to love other people. That’s what happens when we write. We get these little tidbits all through our life, and these deep experiences…and they still come to fruition in books then, and then later in your life, too.”
“We were talking to someone the other day about unconditional love, and how they didn’t feel loveable, that God couldn’t love them. And that’s been an issue in my life too. All of these issues about love, love, love, and I feel like God’s been hammering that in me, to show love to others as I write, as I do what I do with Write from the Deep. We do this because we love God, and we do this because we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we do this because we’re called to love and show love in the world.”
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