Tessa Afshar

Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 for her novel /Pearl in the Sand./ She was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls, before relocating to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in Christian work.

Author By Night

I'm Gonna Wait 'Til the Midnight Hour

The midnight hour has long come and gone by the time I finally finish my last email to my publisher. Late night emails are part of the routine of my life now.

My new novel, Harvest of Rubies, released three weeks ago, so we are still in the throes of feverish publicity that surrounds the early days of a book’s release. I encounter a flurry of activity as I accept invitations to blogs, write magazine articles, participate in radio interviews, keep up with my online presence, maintain my relationships with an active community of writers, and continue to keep in touch with my publishing team, often on a daily basis.

Sometimes blog interviews come with a two-day deadline. But each opportunity is precious. If I want people to hear about my book, I need to accept most invitations.

While I write new articles and read reviews, I also make time for my next novel—Harvest of Gold—the sequel to Harvest of Rubies. It will not be written by angels. I tried delegating to them, but they’ve maintained a frosty silence. In the meantime, I am thinking of ideas for the story I want to write after that one.

Writing revolves around contracts. New ideas, appropriate research, and book proposals are a continuous reality in the life of a writer who wishes to carve out a career rather than engage in a hobby.

Sound busy? It is.

Of course, I also have my day job. Most of us who are blessed to be contracted and published cannot afford to quit our jobs and become full-time writers. At least not immediately. It takes years to build the kind of readership that allows for a full-time writing career. In the meantime, life must go on. I love my day job; I work in a church where I feel like I make a true difference for the kingdom of God. My hours are not always regular and often run into the evening. Forty-hour weeks are light for me.

I consider myself incredibly blessed. Many people never get to do what they find fulfilling. Some never even discover what their true calling on this earth is. I have been simultaneously released in two careers that I love. Sometimes this makes for an interesting schedule.

Just before the release of Harvest of Rubies, my father landed in hospital with double pneumonia. The day he was discharged from the rehab facility to go home, I had surgery. I took my laptop everywhere with me. By his bedside as I visited him every day; to my own bed as I recovered from the surgeon’s knife; to my day job so that I could catch up with one or two emails during my lunch break. This is not a hardship. I love writing too much to begrudge its demands.

When you are a part-time writer, the rest of your life must go on as before. You have to create opportunities to accomplish these new tasks. You do everything you did before and this. Love makes it possible. Love and God. Sometimes I tell Jesus that I

cannot do it. It is impossible. How can I possibly manage this pace? And then I remember the truth that I am “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [me] to do” (Eph. 2:10 NIV).

God’s provision trumps my lack. I know this is my calling. For this season in my life, He has called me to live this privileged life. Just as He prepared this work in advance for me to do, so did He prepare the provision for it. Time, energy, creativity, wisdom, discernment, peace: all that I need is part of my inheritance, set aside for me in Christ.

I feel my deficiencies. I acknowledge them every day. But the mystery of God revolves around that He is strong in our weakness. He will make a way through this winding path. My job is to take one step at a time, to be obedient in the task that is before me at this moment.

Of course, this requires sacrifice. I don’t read as much as I used to. I watch very little TV. I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies. I stay up too late, and I am attached to my laptop. As a single woman, I don’t have to juggle the needs of husband and children in addition to everything else. But I don’t see as much of my family and friends as I would like. I don’t cook the meals I enjoy. My house is littered with papers I can’t put away yet, and my diminutive garden harbors nasty, nameless weeds.

Would I give up any of it for a moment? No. It’s all worth it. It’s all worth hearing how God uses these books in the lives of the readers. It’s all worth knowing that I am fulfilling my purpose. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.


Harvest of Rubies