In this interview with Naomi Fata, so much great info is shared that I initially struggled with which part to focus on for the title of this episode:
- How to know if you’re called to write a book?
- What to do when you feel like an imposter in your faith or as a writer?
- How to develop a writing niche?
Naomi generously shares her personal experience in each of these areas. But then the Lord caused me to realize that they all fall under one overarching theme relationships with him and others.
If you don’t know Naomi, she is a sewing entrepreneur specializing in bridal alterations and custom slipcovers, and teach us sewing as a life skill online. In addition to sewing, she writes the gods corner feature for her local newspaper, and is passionate about inspiring others to find ways to use their God given gifts in their circle of influence. She is the author of beyond head knowledge knowing Christ who satisfies our hearts. And as the creator of two sewing theme journals. Naomi and her husband reside in upstate New York and homeschool their three children.
Now that you’ve been introduced to Naomi, continue listening to discover why relationship building is important to your own writing life, and how it enables you to better serve others.
Dalene Bickel 02:05
Welcome, Naomi. Today, we’re going to be talking a little bit about your writing journey. And I think it’s really, really interesting some of the topics that we’re going to talk about. But first, let me just let everyone get a little bit of background. So you have written two books and a journal, is that correct?
Naomi Fata 02:29
So it’s actually really one book and two journals. My main book is Beyond Head Knowledge: Knowing Christ Who Satisfies Our Hearts. And that was published in 2014. And then I have a 90-day sewing-themed prayer journal. My other book is a journal that has scriptures specifically themed towards overcoming anxiety.
Dalene Bickel 02:55
I love all of that. And I love how you’ve been able to take your career, your passion for sewing, as well as your passion for writing, and to just merge both of those together. I think that’s going to speak to a lot of people listening today.
Before we get too far into this, one thing (if you’ve been listening to the podcast for any amount of time) you know that I always love to ask my guests is, “What is one book, in addition to the Bible, that has really impacted you in your life?”
Naomi Fata 03:24
So I have to say, Dalene, I spent so much time on this question. Because as an avid reader, I’m like, Oh my gosh, everybody’s story has totally left its mark on my heart. Growing up. I loved reading people’s stories like Amy Carmichael, Joni Eareckson Tada. And I was so inspired by them. But then I really was like, okay, one book … one book. I boiled it down to Who Switched Off Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf.
The reason I chose that book is because I’ve done a lot of reading of self-help Christian growth. But I never quite could make the connection between the brain science of why am I still struggling so much with, say, my past, and I definitely had a lot of things to overcome as far as my thinking and my toxic thinking. And so then that book somehow bridged the gap for me, like, Oh, I see how the truth of the Bible if I can hold on to it, and feed my brain, Scripture truth.
Then I began to overcome and it was just like this pivotal switch as I began to be able to put into practice some of those techniques into actually reading and believing the Bible and verses of scripture.
Dalene Bickel 04:50
I’m curious, did reading that book help prompt you to do journaling? Which led you to create journals?
Naomi Fata 04:56
No, it didn’t. That’s really interesting. I have loves paper, since I was very small. And there’s something about having a pretty journal in your hands. That is just really special.
Dalene Bickel 05:10
I agree. So take me back to when you were going to start writing your first book Beyond Head Knowledge. How did God lead you to write that? And how have you seen God at work in your writing journey through that
Naomi Fata 05:23
I have a little bit of an unusual story. Writing a book was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind. I had not really been writing at that point at all.
When I started writing the book, I had a toddler and a three-month old. And the book is about my understanding and growing in Christ, and seeing how I came from like this … I was a pastor’s kid, but my dad passed away when I was really young. And then there’s just a lot of challenging circumstances throughout my childhood; we did have some homelessness, we did have a lot of poverty. And then there was some other health issues with my mom that factored into that.
And so I was like, the perfect church girl. But victory in Christ seems really far away. And I knew the Bible, I was like, but what does it have to do with the life that I’m experiencing right now? Why would someone want to know Christ if I’m not experiencing victory?
So it’s kind of my path of how is it that I could read the Bible and be a Christian for so long, and literally grow up in the church doing all the right things, and yet not really feel like I had a relationship with Jesus?
And so there was this whole journey of coming out of that, and me beginning to feel like I had emotions again, that I was actually knowing Christ and coming out of that, and feeling like he was really personal, very present in my everyday life, and that I could see him being that present friend and helper.
I encountered someone who took me back to where I used to be, where Christianity and faith was so stiff. And it was like God put them in my life; it was like I saw myself in a mirror. I was like, what would I tell that person about KNOWING Jesus? They were Christian, too, and were in church, and were trying to serve God. And it was like God said to me, You need to write a book. And I was like, what?
So then I was reading, I want to say, a book by Dr. Henry Cloud at the time, but I could be wrong. And the very next day, it was about, if God told you to write a book, you’d better; you should just get up 15 minutes early every day and write it. And I was like, okay, okay.
Then I happened to turn on the TV one day in that series of days, and I think it was TD Jakes. Literally, the first words out of his mouth, when I turned the TV on was, “If God told you to write a book, do it.” And I was like, okay. So that was literally my start to my journey.
Dalene Bickel 08:16
Yeah, you can’t get any more specific than that, can you?
Naomi Fata 08:20
No, no. So yeah, that’s how it started. That was the beginning.
Dalene Bickel 08:28
I obviously know that He was faithful to give you the knowledge and the places to learn how to write your first book. And so how has that helped you in your writing since then?
Naomi Fata 08:43
Wow. So I think writing that book helped shape me as a person, and helped me begin to tell my own story. And I think it also gave me a real heart for people. Because afterward, my church was super supportive. They did a really large ladies’ brunch. I mean, it’s large for our small area.
Afterward, hearing people that I knew say, “Wow, this is like it was my story.” I didn’t realize how much people would connect with that, like how much other people struggle with really finding victory in Christ and really knowing him.
I think that changed me and shaped me.
It also gives you the courage to keep writing, when you know that people are relating to it, and that they’re struggling with the same things.
Dalene Bickel 09:45
And I hope that those of you listening right now are really paying attention to that because a lot of times we think, Oh, we have to have this large platform behind us. We have to have a top publisher behind us to make an impact. But no.
It’s all about being willing to do what God has told us to do, and step out in faith and then just share our stories.
I love that Naomi, that’s just so encouraging for all of us writers. So now kind of jumping ahead, I know that you also do a different type of writing you write for your local newspaper, and remind me is that weekly or monthly?
Naomi Fata 10:27
So it’s monthly. And actually, that started before the book was published. In my journey of oh my gosh, God told me to write a book, What on earth am I doing? Like, how do you write a book? What how do you go about it?
And I know, one of the things that they give you for advice is, well, you need to start writing and have an audience. And so that was kind of in my head. At the time, I had not blogged at all or anything.
This local newspaper gets delivered to every home in the area, like every mailbox. So it had come to my house for years. And there was always this God’s Corner section in it and I would read it. I was saying to myself, I wonder who those people are. Sometimes they didn’t have a name attached to them.
And so I was reaching out to the newspaper to advertise my sewing business, which was actually at the time still relatively new, and I just happen to blurt out in my, you know, one minute of courage, “Oh, who writes God’s Corner? Do you ever want submissions?” And they’re like, “Yeah, please just send it to us.” And literally, ever since then, they’ve published [my submissions] every single month. So I’ve been writing for them for over 10 years now.
Dalene Bickel 11:53
Fantastic! Let me pause here again. Writing comes in all different styles, right? And yes, we’re ultimately writing a book. But like you said, we can get that foundation and start building that confidence by writing freelance for other papers, magazines, I know that I have done that with magazines. I’ve been a freelance writer. And I love how you had the courage you saw a potential need. And you just reached out and asked a simple question. And the answer could have been no, but they actually needed someone.
And so if you’re listening, and you know, in your area, you’ve read something all the time. And maybe they do have a byline written by someone, but maybe they would like, you know, to add to their pool of writers. And so it does not hurt to reach out to the editors of newspapers and magazines, and just ask, “Do you need a writer?” and then also pitch a topic. You know, “I could write about X, Y, and Z,” and see what they say.
So first of all, I think it’s fantastic that a newspaper is still offering a God’s Corner, that is just so encouraging to my heart. Now that’s tucked in a secular newspaper. So I wonder if you wanted to touch on the topic of how do you go about writing about God to what is presumably a large audience of secular readers?
Naomi Fata 13:13
This is a really interesting topic. Part of it … let me give you a little backstory. So before I started my sewing business, from the time I was a teenager, I worked in the local convenience store, just circumstances from my life caused me to be there for about 10 years, and I rose up from being cashier into management.
But at the time, I was kind of a little bit angry at God for putting me there. Ever since I was a child. I told God I was going to be a missionary. And I was like, What am I doing in a convenience store? But why am I here? This is such a waste of my time. And the part of that journey, was realizing that I didn’t love people. And part of that is because I hadn’t received healing from Christ to myself.
How can you love someone else until you really come to Christ and let him minister to you as well?
But through the course of that, literally 10 years at a convenience store, I grew to really love people and my community and to also like, I can hear their voice. I know what they struggle with every day. They’re in and out of the store, they’re living paycheck to paycheck, they might be trying to live a good life, and they’re not opposed to God, most of them. They just maybe have never been in church. Maybe they’ve never had a good experience or maybe have never been introduced to Jesus.
So when I write, I have that in the back of my mind. It’s like I can see the people that I served for 10 years, getting them coffee and making them a sandwich, helping them figure out what’s wrong with the gas pump. I hear their story and their problems in my head as I’m writing, if that makes sense.
Dalene Bickel 15:09
It does make sense. Wow, that’s powerful. God definitely used you in that position, even though you didn’t realize it at the time.
I’m curious, do you ever get any feedback from readers? Do the editors let you know if they get any letters back about it?
Naomi Fata 15:25
This is the most humbling part, I think. I walked into my daughter’s dance class the other day, and I saw a sewing client of mine that I’ve done work for, that I haven’t seen in four years, because a lot of times for sewing, people only need it, you know, once every handful of years. And she goes, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your articles every month.” [She’s] not a Christian, not somebody that goes to church.
I don’t ever hear from the editor who reads it. My plumber, however, told my husband what my latest article was about. It’s very humbling. We live in a small area. And I’ve lived here for most of my life at this point. People know us when we go to the gas station, or we go to the grocery store. My kids are like, “Mom, you know everyone.”
When I first started writing, that was almost the hardest. I had so much, Oh my gosh, what if it’s awful? People don’t think I’m a writer; I’m their tailor. I make their bacon egg and cheese for 10 years. Who am I to tell them who God is?
It’s made me realize if those are the only people that I ever write to, it’s worthwhile, because it’s meaningful to them. And if I’m the only thing they ever read about God, if I can point them to Jesus, then I will consider it time well spent.
Dalene Bickel 16:57
Amen to that.
I think that’s so true about no matter what we’re writing, even with books, or someone might pick up our book. And maybe we’re writing, for example, a fiction book, and they might not think it’s a Christian fiction book, and they just start reading it, and then all of a sudden, wow, they’re being introduced to biblical truth and concepts and open to Jesus.
Our words matter, no matter what we’re writing. God has called us to this for this specific purpose to make His name known, and to introduce His son to people. And a lot of times, we Christians need those reminders too, as you’ve pointed out already. There are dry times in our walk with the Lord, too, that we need those reminders.
That’s all so, so good. One thing that we’ve talked about before starting this recording was the lack of glamour with the writing lifestyle. And I was wondering if you wanted to touch on that a little bit.
Naomi Fata 17:52
When God first called me to write a book, there was this element of wow, it’s gonna be not easy, but you don’t realize how challenging it is to begin with. And the publishing world is really intimidating. And even writing is very much a hidden … something you do in secret, in terms of you’re not up on a stage, you’re not often seeing the reader.
So it’s a wonderful thing for me to read someone else’s work and be so changed by it. But guess what? Half the time, they never know, because maybe they wrote it 20 years ago, or it’s not like you send every person that you read a long letter about how much their book impacted you.
So yeah, I think that was kind of humbling, in terms of, you know, starting out on the journey. Sometimes it feels really glamorous; it feels like wow, this is great. God called me to do something. And then it’s like the real rubber meets the road.
So every month I’m gonna write this article because I believe it’s what God has told me to do right now; I want to be faithful in that.
And sometimes faithfulness isn’t that glamorous.
Dalene Bickel 19:15
In my experience, too, when you set out to write a book, you want it to do well, and you want it to sell. I’m speaking for myself, there can be an issue of pride, and wanting to get your name out there. But it all comes ultimately back to why are we really writing?
- Are we writing for our own notoriety?
- Are we writing for book sales?
- Or are we writing to make a difference in even just one life?
That’s what I am constantly trying to remind myself of, because we’re being inundated with the glamorous lifestyle. Everywhere we look, society is telling us it’s all about us.
But this is where I hope that the podcast can speak into the lives of other writers and remind them, as you so adequately said, Naomi, that it’s not glamorous, but it’s what God has called us to do. And it’s where our faith hits the road, too; it’s where we really can dig in our heels and grow not only as writers, but as Christians as well.
Naomi Fata 20:14
Yeah, I think that writing almost forces you to keep that relationship with the Lord fresh. Especially if you’re writing fiction, you’re trying to put that seed of truth in there; like it keeps us present with the Lord. What do You want me to say? How can You use this?
And so I think it’s kept you sharp, so to speak, that relationship with him. My spiritual father used to tell me, “If you want to grow, just teach someone else.” Growing is so much a form of teaching,
Dalene Bickel 20:48
I know that you are busy growing your sewing business and I know you’re continuing to write the newspaper article. Are there any other books in your future?
Naomi Fata 20:58
I would say, yes. Actually, ever since I wrote my first one, people have asked me, “Are you going to write another book?” And I was like, “Yeah,” but I just wasn’t sure what or how. And then just before my spiritual father passed away, which was about five years ago, I had started the outline for a book, and then I just had not been able to pick it up again; he was very much a part of my writing journey.
For a while after I wrote my first book, I thought that I was going to go to be more of a full-time writer and kind of let my sewing go. But I really felt like the Lord kept telling me, You need to keep sewing. And more recently, I’ve been realizing that there might be a whole lot more to putting sewing and writing together because so much of sewing is this repetitive faithfulness; there’s so much imagery in it. I am beginning to explore what that looks like.
One thing that I think someone from The Inkwell actually said was, “write from where you are.” And I’ve realized that I’m a sewer, you can write from that place. So we’ll see. Let’s see what God has for that.
Dalene Bickel 22:20
I can’t wait to see how it all pans out. I am so glad that you were able to join us today. And I know that everyone has been so blessed by what you’ve had to say. How can they connect with you after listening to this podcast?
Naomi Fata 22:40
So I’m on Instagram, my platform of choice @NaomiFata. And so it is mostly sewing, but I do have stuff about books on there and faith as well. But most of my social platforms reflect a sewer since I feel like I’m kind of speaking out of that place.
And I also put together for your listeners a free download of a week’s worth of Sewing: A 90-day Journal. If you go to my website, then they can download that there.
Dalene Bickel 23:18
Oh, that’s fantastic resource. Thank you for that. Again, thank you, Naomi. I’m so glad to have you on the podcast.
Naomi Fata 23:34
Thank you so much for having me.
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