Writing My Memoir #8: Breaking Up With Christian Publishing

After my cocoon period, I attended another writer’s conference. This one was a well-known conference, especially in faith-based circles. This conference—or festival—was well run and the workshops were eye-opening and the people were the best.

But it was at this conference that I finally realized I had been chasing the wrong path all this time.

Two of the acquisitions editors who had previously requested my full manuscript were there. They took time from their packed weekend to talk with me, and at this point, they remained hopeful that my book could be a good fit for their imprints. This encouraged me more than it should have. One, however, reiterated that it would be a hard sell for her because it’s not a “safe book.”  And she gave me that knowing look that I’d received so many times before.

Over and over during this weekend, I just felt like I didn’t fit. It was not that I was ostracized. If anything, the people I met there were more gracious and generous with their space than they needed to be. But again and again, I’d sit in the back during the workshop and have this very real sense that I was in the wrong place. Toward the end of the conference, had an existential crisis while walking to a lecture. I had been so tired and calloused and apathetic to everything around me that weekend. Something was very, very wrong. (It didn’t help that I was eight months pregnant.)

And then it hit me: this is not my home.

I met fantastic friends at this conference who I keep in touch with to this day. And if I go back this year, I’ll have so much to learn from the rich, dynamic presenters. This isn’t about dissing a conference—it’s about finding where my art fits in this big world. And it wasn’t in Christian publishing.

It was hard work to find where my book belongs. I bumped up against the gatekeepers of Christian publishing too many times. Once should have been enough, but I kept trying again and again. Perhaps I was looking for validation from the people that were the reason for this book to begin with.

It was the most freeing feeling in the world when I finally broke up with Christian publishing. Now my book could be who she really was without apology. I could finally be done explaining myself and my story.

After I realized where my book didn’t fit, it was a whole new process to find out where it did.

But first, I’d face a major life crisis.



  1. Elizabeth on February 8, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I’m loving this series, Carly! As a poet who is recovering from a fundamentalist/evangelical upbringing, I identify with a lot of it. Thanks for sharing about your journey, and I look forward to reading your book when it comes out!

    • Carly Gelsinger on February 18, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Thank you! I appreciate you reading. 🙂

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