I wrote this blog in late May, with the temporary title of The Novel Commitment and intent to post it by mid-June. Sadly, my family and I experienced an unexpected loss, placing all things writing or otherwise on hold. I have learned over the last seven weeks that grief harrows a soul in unspeakable ways. With this new perspective, I look over the sentiments below and feel a bittersweet irony in where my thoughts were before this most recent life changing event. It is in this quiet reverence that I submit to you that faith is what carries us around the bend…
My morning pages are often filled with sketches of a girl on a journey. She didn’t know where she was traveling to—at least not in the beginning. Her naive and limited vision coupled with a series of isolated events often distracted her from making progress. Onlookers felt that her pathway was hidden from view. Time didn’t judge but instead, it became her friend and progress started to take root.
Writing is an adventure of sorts. It began for me when I was in the second grade. My parents determined that I would spend time journaling each night to counteract learning disabilities which afflicted me. I was obedient enough, the thought of refusing never entered my mind. To a seven-year-old, the blue binder with lined paper was a chore that became habit forming. My letters were almost an inch tall, littered with drawings in the margins of purple mountains and bald eagles. It became an elementary catalog of my young life in northern Montana.
During high school, I noticed a girl in keyboarding class who kept a notebook with her everywhere she went. She was always scrawling away, hunched over her wire bound paper as if the world depended on it. Intrigued, I worked up the nerve to ask her what she was doing. Her cold and angry eyes glared in response, causing me to shrink under their scrutiny. “Writing stories!” was the only explanation offered and I resolved that it was best to leave her to it. Looking back, maybe her world did depend on those pages, but we’ll never really know.
Her rebuke produced a silver lining, it awoke my muse. I rationalized that if Miss Angry-Eyes could write, then so could I. It lasted for less than a week, a lack of commitment resulted in my own notebook being stowed in a drawer while I settled down with the nearest book. Reading was my real love. Inside soft or hard covers were worlds to explore, daring deeds to live, and an escape from reality that satisfied a need. These were the places where dreaming was allowed, not scoffed at by fellow travelers or my own insecurities. I drank in the pages, often barely coming up for air.
College is where I discovered my voice. Expository writing allowed me to mix my love of reading with defending an argument. Through good instruction I began to expand my narrow point of view; the muse rising with hunger. Moderate success stabilized my shaky legs, giving my fragile and broken self-esteem solid ground on which to stand. A fellow class mate once remarked, “Someday I’m going to buy your book.” Peer confidence had branded me, I would write a book someday…it could be done!
Then adulting happened. Daunted by the throws of life, my writings often sat untouched as children grew and I experienced love and loss. At one desperate moment along the trail, I felt as if I lay skewered by the spear of betrayal. Living seemed hard and writing impossible. Journaling through rage and despair seemed to be the only release. Time remained a friend and eventually lifted me to my feet, forcing me to trudge again.
When experiences came that made me feel I could walk no further, I was carried by an unseen force. Propelled onward through kicking, screaming, and full-tilt rebellion, I started to grasp that writing was one of the things I was meant to do along the way. My children saw it too and placed upon me an innocent trust from which I could not shrink. After grinding my teeth for a length of time, I set my will to pen and paper. This was five years ago, my children continue to cheer, my comrades encourage, and my God has moved me forward within the loving arms of grace.
Moral of the story? Don’t let fear win. Don’t let hardship and hurts stop progress. Create from your heart, whatever is in it. We do not journey alone! So, look for the joy in the small things and smile, you were given the gift of today. While you journey, please remember: “The future is never limited by what we can see now.” (More Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie).
As always, writing to you is a privilege. Being seven weeks behind schedule, I’m hoping to release Flowers In Winter by October, fingers crossed!