Wanza Leftwich, The Gospel Writer, is a missionary, freelance writer, and speaker. She is editor of UrbanChristianFiction.com and the creator of the College Prayer Network. As a writer, she is passionate about sharing her faith on two inspirational blogs, The Gospel Writer and Faith & Fertility. One blog shares practical faith tips to live a prosperous life, and the latter encourages families to believe God through their season of infertility. She has expanded her freelance career by writing short stories and interviews for Tha Message Magazine.
Let’s start with an easy question – as hard as it is to get published today and as much work goes into being an indie-publisher (if that’s your mode of publication), why do you keep coming back to the WORD, to the writing?
Writing for me is life changing. When I write I begin to understand myself, my God and the people around me more and more. Writing is a difficult field, especially if you’re looking to go the traditional route of publishing, but once your words are published, they can never be erased. Not only is it a sense of accomplishment, but it’s immortality at its best. Imagine the books we read today that change our lives and the author is deceased. Words are powerful. It’s worth the work to be published traditionally or if you put your work out there yourself.
What three writers have influenced your writing and how?
I have done at least three interviews already and have been asked this question and probably gave the same replies each time I was asked. I love reading literature that gives my imagination a surge. And though I have many who have influenced my passion for writing, you asked for 3 and it’s a tough pick, but will tell you my top 3 and why.
How do your beliefs, values, and cultural awareness reflect themselves in your writing?
I am a follower of Christ. I am Christian and my writing does reflect that in my work. I write Urban Christian Fiction and non-fiction works that are centered on Christian living. My values are integrated in my work – I wouldn’t know how to remove them! I write what I think and believe. Sure, all of my characters wouldn’t agree with me, but for the most part you can know exactly who I am after reading a passage of my work. Culturally, I find myself writing from an Urban Black perspective most of the time. Again, that is who I am but I am not limited to it.
What are some of the themes you find yourself circling back to in your writing?
I tend to weave in love and honesty in most of my writing. I think the world is lacking genuine love. We live such shallow lives that most times a man can’t tell a woman that he loves her or vice versa. We rather hide behind “the game” of dating and relationships instead of realizing what we really want and love and going after it. I’ve seen too many couples break up because of dishonesty – they couldn’t bear to tell the other person what they truly felt due to pride or what others thought about their situation. It’s such an injustice and I write about it. It’s my heart. I’ve been there.
I selected you as an October feature because your “writer’s heart” connects with me. When I read your works, I sense your passion for writing and for conveying images, sounds, emotions, feelings to your reader. If you could, describe what “the heart of a writer” means to you.
Although, the story I write is fictional, the content is true to life. It’s a story that could be anyone, anywhere. I can’t afford to hold back words – those very words maybe what my reader needs. “The heart of the writer” to me means that as an author I write unselfishly for my readers. I write what is true, honest, painful but helpful. When you read my writing, you see and feel what is on my mind. That is when my heart shines through my work.
Yes, writers “feel” the need to write, but we have to be realistic, too: writers WANT to get published. Talk a bit about your publication journey and some of the important things you’ve learned while on that journey.
My first work, Sunday Morning, I self-published. I will admit, I had NO idea of what I was doing. I just knew I was writing a book and I put it out there. To my joy, people loved it. Yes, it was structured wrong and could have used an editor, but it was out and the story made people talk and talk. I knew then that I had to continue, but I was fearful. The story was so real many people became angry because they thought I was writing about them. That was not the case. I stopped writing for years – nearly a decade.
Along this journey, I have learned to be unselfish. Someone needs the words I am going to write or have written. They need a laugh, a sigh or even a cry. It’s one of the things I was born to do. I have the ability to change someone’s thought pattern with my words. With that realization, I began to write again. Now, I am currently publishing a short story for Tha Message Magazine and pursuing traditional publishing.
Writers are more than writers today; they are publicists, marketers, brands, a whole product aside from the book itself. What are you doing, as a writer with many hats, to market/promote yourself and get your works into the right hands?
I am developing my social media skills! I blog and tweet mostly, but I am definitely online promoting myself and my brand as The Gospel Writer. I believe it is important to “do unto others” so I actively interview and promote blog tours on my blogs for other authors.
What are you working on next?
I am working on the sequel to Sunday Morning. It’s been a long time coming, but the time is now for Flour Ain’t Bread ‘Til You Bake It. Also, I have a few non-fiction proposals that I am submitting before the year is out.
Taken from The Newlywed Diaries
Meet George & Sarah
by Wanza Leftwich, The Gospel Writer
Can you handle that I tell you the truth
I paid my tithes, sowed my seed
Every day broke indeed
This is what I be
The dreams I see
Can you handle me telling you about me
Walking and talking
Shouting and praising
Depressed and gloom
Never seeing prosperity
Prosperity, you see
But is it for me
Do you see where I’m coming from?
Tossed in the night
Tears streaming down
Eyes of fright
Letting up on my fight
Praying you hear
Are you near?
Sounds so weak, but this is
How my heart beats.
Can I tell you the truth
Can I trust you
No question mark at the end
It is a rhetorical sin
Can you handle me
The thoughts I see
The rain I hear
The pound that resounds within my ears
Prosperity, you say again
Is it for me…
“That’s all you ever do is write that crazy depressing poetry!” George snatched the diary out of my hand. “You think God gonna deliver you if you keep writing like that?”
This time I didn’t move. I didn’t reach for it. I didn’t grab it. I knew what he would do. He was going to flip the page. I was going to let him. Gone on, flip it. I tried to
spare your egoistical feelings, but you’ve done it this time. One more page and you’re going to wish you never married me.
“What? Is this what you think?” George tore the pages out. “Is this what you think?”
A smile rose in my heart. Finally, the truth was out.