My Dreams as a Writer

I recently read a blog post by one of my writer friends about her dreams as a writer and she has inspired me to post my own blog on my dreams and aspirations as a writer. So many of the things she said about her life paralleled my own life. You would think that would be creepy, but really, it was affirming. I remember as a child – and this is long before Kindergarten and knowing how to read – my parents had a book of fairy tales. It was a huge book and had stories in it like Beauty and the Beast, Puss in Boots, Rapunzel and so on. Before each story began there was a full color frontispiece of a scene from each story and I would look at those pictures and make up stories based on what the scene suggested to me. My early career as a writer? Who knows. A year or two ago, my father gave me an envelope with some things he thought I might want. When I got home and opened the envelope I found a number of things, including my Kindergarten graduation certificate and a short story I wrote in first grade that I actually earned a gold star for. I think it went something like this: Once upon a time there was a lonely pony in a meadow who wished he had a boy to own. One day a lonely boy came along and saw the lonely pony and the two lived happily ever after. Even then, I was a sucker for happy endings. I love to read. I think every writer is a reader first and if they aren’t then I don’t think they’re really serious writers. When I was growing up I went nowhere without a book in my hand. The one complaint that people had about me was, “you’re always reading.” I took it as a compliment. Somewhere around the age of 12 or 13 I decided that I wanted to write. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, a writer. Many would smile indulgently and say things like, “That’s nice,” as if they didn’t really believe me, but that’s what I wanted more than anything. What I lacked in my life was support. My parents are good people, but dreamers they never were. I suppose it comes from being depression era children when dreams were in very short supply and no one could afford them. They never really supported my desire to write, and if they caught me at it, which was often, they would admonish me to go out and find some friends to spend my time with. They never understood that I was with my friends when I had a notebook and a pen in my hand. In high school I took a creative writing class and I was so excited because I felt like I was finally starting my career as a creative writer. What I got was a class in which we had to look up words in the dictionary and define them and then use them in a sentence. We very rarely wrote any stories and I spent a frustrated semester wondering when we were going to write anything. Our last assignment was to write a short story. I wrote mine and she failed it. Ces’t la vie. I was undeterred. When I went to college my mother insisted that I go to get a degree in Education and become a teacher. I didn’t want to be a teacher, but I did what she asked. After my first semester as a student teacher, I went to my Advisor and quit the program. Then I went to my mentor and signed up for a ton of English and History classes. I felt like I was back on track. We wrote so many term papers that when I graduated I found I had lost my creative streak. It took about five years to get that spark back but by then I was married and had two small children. I pushed that spark down and ignored it, but as the years went by I became unhappy and depressed. That’s what happens when you deny who you are. I took it as long as I could and then around 1993 I met a woman who was also a writer and she encouraged me to write again. I did and wrote a novel that I thank the Lord couldn’t get published. It’s trash. But I wrote it. At first my husband wasn’t so supportive of my desire to write, and he did a lot to discourage me from doing it. One day, I walked into a room and saw him reading a part of my manuscript that I had accidentally left out. I turned around and left the room. He said nothing about it, but the next day he came home from work and presented me with a printer. He put it on the kitchen table and said, “If you’re going to write then you need a decent printer.” I’ve been writing ever since. Not for publication, just for me, and not continually but sporadically. Why? Because life has a way of getting in the way of a writer. My kids were growing, my marriage was mostly chaos, and I was busy with a full time job, sometimes two jobs. It left little time to write. I think it was the Lord’s way of saying, “No, not yet,” so sadly I gave up on my wish to write and didn’t do it for about 13 years. In 2009, I became a Christian and when that happened, the floodgates opened. I started working on a new novel, I found the ACFW website, I found the critique group through ACFW and I kept writing. In 2013 the Lord took control of my writing career. That’s the only way I can explain it. I submitted a piece of writing to the critique group and one of the people who critiqued it asked if I was going to the writing conference in Indianapolis. My response was something like – um….yes. I went to the ACFW website and looked up the conference date. It was September 13 through 15. The day AFTER I was to lose my job. I went to my husband and showed him the conference information and carefully and meekly asked if I could go. I fully expected him to say no, but instead he looked at the information, looked at me and said, “Well, you’ve worked hard enough at it, you might as well see if you can publish it.” That was a God moment. No doubt about it. That was my first conference and I learned so much and met so many great people. I made new writer friends who I still keep in touch with. I met with an agent who, though he didn’t choose to represent me in the end, affirmed to me that my writing is good and publish worthy. It was a very affirming experience. I feel like I’m on the road to publication. I don’t know when that will be, but I know that the One who has charge of my life does know and that’s all I need to know. So, for all of my writer friends out there, keep writing. I’m looking forward to reading your books and saying I knew you when. Image