March 31, 2015

A Real Writer by Guest Blogger Brenda Leyland

Many writers seem to know early in life that they want to be a writer; they might even sense that they need to write.

Not so with me. When I was a girl, I had no thought of being a writer, no inkling or desire. Writing stories in school was no fun. I could never write anything under the pressure of a deadline as the clocked tick-ticked on the teacher's desk. My ideas and words, if there were any good ones, froze long before they reached the lead tip of my yellow HB 2 pencil with eraser nibbled off.

Yet, in retrospect, writing was being woven into the very warp and woof of my life. Perhaps Jo March did leave her mark on my imagination -- I certainly could see myself sitting up in an attic, a funny hat on my head, scribbling away in a miniscule diary with lock and key.

What I could not see was that those plays I used to write as a girl with my sister, putting on elaborate performances for our mom and neighbours, was writing. Or, that my grade nine English short story into which I poured all my girlish longing for romance (a story for which my teacher commended me) -- that was writing too.

Those timid attempts to capture visions of beauty in poetry (I think William Wordsworth and his famous daffodils had something to do with that, not to mention L.M. Montgomery and her beauty-loving Anne.) Well, they were just scribblings of a yearning heart -- that wasn't writing, was it?

Playing with words threaded their way not only through my personal hobbies (calligraphy, journaling, and letter writing) and volunteer jobs (writing skits and games for Sunday school), but even my job that turned out to be a 20+ year career, involved drafting thousands of letters and messages for publications for three Alberta Premiers.

Yet for all that, I did not -- I could not bring myself to say with any confidence that I was a writer. My husband used to introduce me to people he knew that I was a writer, but I was stutteringly embarrassed, especially if anyone asked what I wrote. Lord, have mercy! For I still operated from an earlier, deeply rooted belief that coloured every word I wrote: That real writers wrote books and were published; nothing else (holy hush) was real writing.

Something on the inside kept stirring. Around 2002, I registered for my first-ever InScribe event in Calgary. Kathleen Gibson was the keynote speaker, and her words that weekend dropped into my heart and began to bubble. I came away with visions of possibility, as I pondered them in my heart. Maybe I could call myself a writer.

So, we created business cards (except I was too afraid to hand them out) and when we bought our first home computer, I started writing in earnest and I read everything I could get my hands on about the craft of writing. My desire to write blossomed. And more importantly, like water dripping on a stone, that ratty old belief slowly eroded away. I was writing and words were touching hearts. Published or not -- I was a writer.



Dreaming about writing to inspire and encourage women, a beautiful opportunity opened that I could never have imagined -- developing and writing a monthly newsletter to inspire women in business. I accepted the job and loved it. From that first 4-page newsletter it eventually had an estimated monthly readership of 500. It was exciting.

In 2008, I took a leap into cyberspace when I created two blogs. Since then, I’ve written well over a thousand posts, connecting with hundreds of women and creating a kindred online community. Other writing steps included writing articles and a blogging column in FellowScript, book reviews for the local paper, two blogging workshops, and an e-course for new bloggers; I even won a contest or two.

In this journey, the steps have been small, sometimes slow, but looking back I see that Someone has been faithfully directing the steps of this woman, steadily bringing her toward her destiny of writing words from Home. Does she know she's a writer now?  Yes, now she knows.


Brenda C Leyland writes from her desk overlooking the backyard garden. When she's not watching the birds or blogging at It's A Beautiful Life, she pretends to work on The Memoir in Progress hoping Inspiration will lend a hand.  


If you enjoyed this post by Brenda, click for some of her other posts:






March 30, 2015

A Writer's Journey by Susan Barclay


[This is a shorter reprise of the post I wrote for the June 2014 prompt, which must have been on a similar theme!]
My love of words and stories began early. My grandparents first took me to the library when I was three and introduced me to books and story times. From then on, you couldn't keep me away from libraries and books. I was at almost every library program offered, and devoured books voraciously.

Some of my first memories are of me sitting on our family's front porch and making up songs. I wrote quite a bit of bad poetry, but I'm still not sorry my mother kept it for me in binders that I can go back and re-read today. It makes me smile to see those budding efforts and to know how far I've come.


Not so great on paper (sample from grade 3)

In school, English and creative writing were my favourite subjects, and I excelled in them. My grade two teacher can still quote the closing line to a story I wrote for her class (okay, it must have been better than the grade 3 sample above). In upper elementary years I remember writing about subjects like Hernan Cortez for Social Studies and the colourful mandrill for Science. Later I fell in love with the pun and titled one junior high story Steph's Sweet, Swede Dreams (a play on 'sweet, sweet dreams' in case you don't get it). The plot was of a romantic nature and my protagonist in love with a Swede.


In high school I had an amazing English teacher, Mrs. Perle Michna. Her passion for literature heightened the flames of my own and I aspired to be like her so much that when it came time to choose my college affiliation at the University of Toronto, I chose Victoria, which I thought was her alma mater. Imagine my dismay when she told me her alma mater had been University College!


I enjoyed my years at U of T and Vic nonetheless. I had the good fortune to take a Shakespeare course with the illustrious Northrop Frye, although I confess I don't remember a single word he said (I do still have my notes!). I only remember feeling extremely self-conscious riding the elevator with him one day. Word had it that he had no patience for small talk. I don't know if that was true or not, but I certainly was too intimidated to initiate a more meaningful conversation.


After completing my undergraduate degree, I went on to get my Master of Library and Information Science. Had I known anything about a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I suspect I’d have taken that instead, no matter how impractical. Writing was the job I always wanted. Ah well. I’m sure God had His plans, and my work in libraries has helped to pay the bills. The main thing is I’m writing now and my work is being published, not only here and on my personal blog, but in various anthologies.

So maybe that was more than you actually wanted to know, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

________________

For more of my writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.ca

March 29, 2015

My metamorphosis into a writer - Ruth L. Snyder

My journey to becoming a writer is more of a metamorphosis (by definition, "A profound change in form from one stage to the next") than a "Eureka" moment.


I clearly remember the day I read my first book. (It was actually more like rehearsing the memorized text of my favourite book, but to me it was reading.) I made everyone I encountered sit down and listen to me "read". A few weeks later I realized those squiggles on the page had meaning and began the process of learning how to actually read. Reading opened a colourful imaginative world I still enjoy today.


The next step in the metamorphosis came a year or so later. We lived in South Africa at the time and had just returned from a year of furlough in the United States and Canada. Writing letters formed a link across the ocean and helped me stay in touch with relatives. I remember listening intently as my mother read each letter, using my imagination to visualize the actions and people described. Soon I joined my mother writing letters back.

We enjoyed a visit from a special family friend, "Auntie Ngairie," a couple years after we moved to Botswana. Decades later, I remember her insistence that my writing would be stronger if I used a greater variety of words. "Try not to repeat any words. Replace repetitions with something that will add to the meaning." (Something I still work at today!)


A year or so later, my sister and I joined our two older brothers at a mission hostel in Zimbabwe. We travelled five hundred miles by train to attend school in the capital city of Salisbury (now called Harare). Writing became even more important to me because I was away from my parents for three months at a time. I eagerly anticipated the weekly letters my parents wrote, and in return, I searched for words to describe my activities and opportunities.



We moved to Canada in 1977 and other than school activities or the very occasional letter, my writing consisted of daily journaling. This continued through middle school and high school. In grade ten, I joined the school newsletter and yearbook committees. Here I discovered the joy of sharing my writing with a larger audience. I also enjoyed experimenting with layout and design.


After I finished Bible College, my mother showed me an advertisement for a writing "aptitude test". "You should do this and send it in." More to get her to leave me alone than anything else, I complied. A few weeks later I received an invitation to take a course on writing for children from the Institute of Children's Literature in Connecticut. I received encouraging comments from my instructor and learned the basics of writing for children. After two courses from the institute, the metamorphosis continued with two more courses from their sister organization, Long Ridge Writers' Group.


One of my instructors encouraged me to join groups where I would have the opportunity to interact with other writers. Through the internet I found and connected with The Word Guild, InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship and The Christian PEN. These groups provided more nurturing and encouragement. Winning the Fresh Ink contest with The Word Guild finally convinced me I am a writer. Conferences provide opportunities to learn from and network with other writers. Through a course with The Christian PEN I met Kathi Macias, who invited me to write my first novella, Cecile's Christmas Miracle.


The metamorphosis continues. This week I learned how to format my own manuscript for Kindle and uploaded my Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps to Amazon. Launch date is set for April 27th. I'm excited to see where God and my writing lead next!



Follow Ruth's adventures in writing and life at http://ruthlsnyder.com

March 27, 2015

My Eur-Ek-A moment by Melanie Fischer


My Eureka moment hasn’t really been “A moment”. It hasn't appeared in a flash of light, a flick of a switch or a bolt of reality. It has trickled in, and has come in three parts. 1.Eur 2.ek 3.a.




PART ONE

"Eur"…as in "yur a writer" 


Part one happened when I was about seven years old. 

I wedged my pale-blue-colored, Holly Hobby sticker-covered dresser into my bedroom doorway. I plunked a pile of scrap loose leaf and a jar of pencils on top. Mom’s manual typewriter weighed about as much as I did, but I managed to hoist it up on that writing surface. I then positioned a stack of side tables behind that chest of drawers and crawled up them. I popped open the typewriter cover, slid a pencil behind my ear, then declared my journalist’s office “open for business.”

That was when God told me “yur a writer.” It wasn’t for another 30 years that I would take Him seriously though. And why would I? Sure…I could type a line of “sdkfjlskjflkjldskjf” so fast that it would make those little metal arms jam together. But my English teachers certainly never took me serious. And this brings us to Part two.


PART TWO

"Ek"…pronounced "eeeeeek"


As for my English teachers, it was harder for them to make me write an essay than it was to get the gum off the bottom of the desks. I didn’t like structure. I didn’t like the rules of grammar and punctuation. And I certainly didn’t like writing what I was told to write. I protested against such controlled writing all the way to a solid “C”. A day came though—there was that list on the chalkboard under the heading “choose one of these people to write about.” As if it were flashing in neon lights, the name “Mozart” caught my immediate attention. As luck would have it, I was fascinated by this musical genius. I could hardly wait to sprint down to the library and take out every book I could find. I ate the history of Mozart for breakfast and poured out his story onto my scratch pad. With the confidence of a champion I handed in my completed work. 

I could hardly wait to get my grade back. I was more eager than a kid in the lineup to Splash Mountain. The day finally came. In traditional teacher fashion, she placed our assignments face down on each of our desks. I flipped those pages over to reveal…”Eeeeeek!” Instead of my anticipated A+++, the words written in red pen across my page said, “plagiarism is not acceptable.” I was a bit confused. I didn’t know what plagiarism was. I probably wasn’t paying attention in that class. Once I had it explained, I trucked back to the library, took all those books out once again, plopped them on my teacher’s desk, and told her as nicely as I possibly could that if she found a single sentence that I took out of any of those books I would accept an “F”. I ended up with my only A in that class!

Interesting enough, that false accusation of fraudulent activity didn’t discourage me from writing. It was simply a very loud “not yet.”


PART THREE

“A”…said like this “Ahhhhhh”


“Not yet” alright! And it wouldn’t be “yet” for another twenty years. Life took me on a detour through parenting, a career in science, some hobbies, many interesting experiences, lots of ups and downs, some self-discovery, and eventually into a relationship with Christ. 

And then. My path collided with desperation to understand my purpose. That was when the Lord began to rearrange my life and awaken my calling to write. Opportunities began to emerge and I was clocked on the side of the head with a resounding “Ahhhhhh…now it’s time!” 




As it turns out, if it wasn’t for all the "Eeeeeek's" between the “Yur” and the “a” I wouldn’t have anything to write about. The Lord knows our path before He even places us on it. The time comes when we will see the little crumbs of evidence of our purpose peppered along our trail. We just need to do our best to be patient and wait for His timing to bring our Eur-ek-a moment together.


For more of Melanie's writing visit www.hungryforpurpose.com/blog

March 26, 2015

Dancing Naked by Marnie Pohlmann


I am a writer!

Like Archimedes leaving his bath to run in excitement, shouting a message others may or may not have cared about, being a writer makes me feel exhilarated – as well as naked and exposed. Putting my thoughts, beliefs, fantasies, and life lessons in black ink is thrilling, but sharing with others what eventually comes out of those musings is downright frightening.

Words are powerful. As a child, I needed to use words to ask for help, but could not whisper the secrets. I lied to my diary, God, and myself because the truth was too difficult to face. Yet creative writing of stories, poetry, and school assignments carried me through many years, providing a refuge of sanity. Eventually, writing in personal journals helped me hear God speak healing into my heart, mind, and soul.

I have always been a writer, and sometimes I actually feel like a writer – when I win national and international contests, see my wording used by volunteer organizations, am paid for publication, or share at a women’s retreat. These times convince me I am a writer.

Yet, many times, I do not feel like a writer – when I avoid the work of writing, am afraid to share even when my words may encourage another, don’t make time in the busy-ness of life to practice and grow the skills, or when I do not seek publication. These times convince me I will never be a writer and that I do not even want to try.

God reminds me, though - repeatedly, that He has created me, a clay pot. He will use me, perhaps as a vase to hold beautiful flowers or as a chamber pot. He may dress me in soft fabrics that shimmer or in a soldier’s uniform. In whatever way God chooses to use my writing and me, He only asks I be true to myself – to the self He formed me to be in those dark times, those joyous times, those quiet times.

The following notes are gleaned from my quiet time journals; verses God gave me to remind me I am a writer – gifted and called for His purpose, whatever that may look like. Search them out to see if they also ring true for you.

Esther 4:14 - God’s message will be told – He has given me training and opportunity to join Him in the telling, so others can know His salvation.

Romans 9:25 - God uses cracked pots and weak vessels. No matter how far I have to go, He can use the story of how far He has brought me.

1 Peter 2:10 - I have not chosen to be a writer; God chose me to work with and for Him in this way.

Romans 10 - Others are also writing; I am not in competition, but join the procession, and it is a good thing to do! Paul goes on to explain that sharing the good news will not be easy – not everyone will listen (or read), they may be critical, give us cold shoulders, and cold stares. However, before people can believe, they need to listen, and before they can listen, someone needs to be preaching (speaking, writing). No matter the reaction of others, my calling to write does not change.

So like King David, the Psalmist-Warrior, I dance naked, writing in praise of God's victory in my life.

My name is Marnie, and I am a writer.





March 25, 2015

Pieces of Me by Vickie Stam

There have been several occasions when I knew I wanted to be a writer. The moment I enrolled in a writing class, my desire to write only in journals no longer satisfied me. I'd found another voice; one that I needed to share, not hide. I wanted others to read my stories and they have. It's been a gradual process. A very exciting one! My first published piece appeared in the MB Herald, a magazine printed for my church denomination and one that reaches all Mennonite Brethren churches across Canada. I went on to submit pieces to short story contests. One of those stories made it to the second round of judging; something that gave me the courage to keep on writing. I haven't been able to stop since I penned my opening sentence all those years ago between the pages of my first journal. Back then I didn't think of myself as a writer nor did I ever intend to become a writer. Obviously, God had other plans for me. One in particular keeps on calling me. 

The Book.....

There's a story I keep tucked away beneath a  layer of clothing in my dresser drawer. It's in the beginning stages and I am the author. Last November I held those pages in my hands and stepped up to a microphone in front of about forty women. All eyes were on me, something that has a tendency to make me nervous. The thought of exposing pieces of my life.... pieces of me, were starting to make me rethink my decision to write something about 'relationships' and then stand up in front of everyone and share it. Even though I was among friends I could feel something inside of me grinding. Nerves rubbing together. At that point I could only hope no one could hear them.

I read my story over and over to myself beforehand. I needed to be sure it made sense. I was worried. What if no one could follow the timeline? Did it flow accordingly? Did I write it in such a way that they could feel exactly what I had felt? Would they understand the message I was trying to convey and what worried me most was how they would feel when they suddenly got a glimpse of the real me and the world I grew up in. It wasn't always a place of harmony yet love still managed to find a way through. But don't the tests of life ring true for everyone? All of our lives are weaved with joy and pain. In fact, my afflictions ultimately triggered my need to write. Penning my feelings definitely lead to healing. And now, there's hardly a day that ticks by where I don't think about writing. 

Reading my story in front of this group of women was something completely different for me even though I knew them. Attending the same church doesn't mean you know everyone's state of well being or their sorrow. Our primary focus was to connect with God and get to know one another on a deeper level. What better place than to sink ourselves inside a fortress of trees. The tiny resort was virtually hidden. It was impossible to see even the slightest hint of its existence from the winding road that led us there. The hedge of protection I often pray for lay right in front of me.     

When I stepped up to the microphone, I began reading, "Have you ever felt as though you should have been born to a different family?" I could feel my cheeks flush yet I felt it was a legitimate question; a very thought provoking one, to say the least and one I had wrestled with a time or two in my own life. You could have heard a pin drop. I was open and honest, revealing a memorable account of my feelings at a young age and how those memories affected my life into adulthood. Those early years molded many facets of my life.        

It's been almost five months since I shared my story and I've been asked on more than one occasion, "Have you started that book yet?" "You have a gift." I was told. I could see the sincerity in her eyes. I know my friend, whom I will call, "G" can't help but ask me whenever we cross paths, just how that book is coming. She believes that I can and should write a book. Each time I swallow hard. I don't have a good enough reason why I haven't started. Even so, I'm not certain those pages are the ones that I would turn into a manuscript. But, if it isn't those than it could be something else. A different topic altogether. And if I have any doubts about my ability to write, they are quickly extinguished the minute my faithful friends and husband encourage me to keep writing. 

     **Remember, the greatest gift is not found in a store nor under  the tree, but in the hearts of true friends.
                Quote by: Cindy Lew       

March 24, 2015

Writing Snuck Up On Me by Tandy Balson






Writing snuck up on me.  It wasn’t something I had consciously pursued.   There also was no Eureka moment when I discovered this was my calling.

Looking back on my life, I see the signs that God kept placing before me.  My hindsight is 20/20 but my vision over the years was too clouded with self doubts to even consider the possibility of being a writer.

In his book, The Art of Work, Jeff Goins said, “A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.”  My life had been trying to teach me that I should be a writer for many years but I wasn’t paying attention.

When I finally acknowledged that this was something I wanted to pursue I knew I would need help and advice. I spoke to a friend who was a writer and she gave me the encouragement to get started.  I appreciated her insight but as I wanted to focus on Christian content and this was foreign to her, I knew I needed more.

Though research I found The Word Guild and became a member.  Through this I was introduced to InScribe and quickly joined this group as well.

The people I have met through these groups, both in person at conferences and online have been a source of information and encouragement.  They are always willing to freely share their knowledge.  I have found opportunities through them that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.  The more I learn, the more my confidence has grown.

In my mind I am a writer.  This still isn’t easy to vocalize when people ask me what I do.  I did it for the first time at a meeting I attended recently.  The guest speaker was the publisher of a local magazine.  When I introduced myself to her, she asked what kind of business I was in.  Without hesitation, I smiled and said, “I’m a writer.”    I must have said it with confidence because after a brief conversation, she mentioned something about the possibility of doing a feature story on me.  Maybe I had the Eureka after all!

blog: https://www.timewithtandy.com
website: https://www.tandyb.com 
 

March 23, 2015

Secret Writer by Lynn J Simpson


It started in a little red book with a lock and key latch. I began writing in my after school hide-out of my bedroom with the sound of a bouncing basketball and light chatter from my brothers through my open window.  And writing with a red pen, which is interesting as now I will never write with a red pen-only a fine blue one. All other colours go straight in the garbage, I must admit.

And I filled that little red book with all the angst of a 12 year-old. Filling those pages were trials of acne, math, and the boys who wouldn’t look at me. And by age thirteen I progressed to 8x10 coil bound Hilroy notebooks. And I still use those, with the habit of writing the date in the upper right corner transpired from my elementary school days.

Simultaneously, I started my first teen novel. Inspired by my favourite author then, S. E. Hinton, who published at 16 years old, I began Dani’s story. In neat printing, I wrote diligently those few hours after school and before dinner, filling pages upon pages of loose leaf in a blue binder. And then my brother found out.

I will never forget the day my brother opened the door to my bedroom and saw me writing.  Shortly after, I walked into the garage and dumped every single filled page into the garbage bin. Honestly to this day I am not sure why I did that. Embarrassed maybe, that now he knew my secret that I wanted to be a writer?

A secret because a writer was the scariest profession I could ever imagine being. It was even scarier than falling off heels while on a date with one of those boys who never looked at me. What if I failed my dream of being just like S. E. Hinton?

But even though Dani’s story was lost in a field of garbage somewhere (as this was before recycling days), like dreams, she never died in my mind. And now her story is 40,000 words in a document folder on my desktop along with short stories, essays, and creative non-fiction. Sometimes months, even years have passed where my blue spiral binders lay low in my desk drawers, yet I knew a time would be coming where God was calling me to write my words again.

And my brother, married now to a writer, if he had known then, would most likely have walked behind me and pulled Dani’s story out of that garbage bin. Now I can retrieve any writings easily by re-opening in a locked folder on my desktop. But not those pens other than fine blue. They can stay in the garbage bin.  

 

March 22, 2015

The "Specialness" of Whitney! by Alan Anderson

For my blog post this month I want to introduce readers to one of the special people in my life.  When it comes to "special" people we may think of those who stand out from most of us. These special people find a permanent place in one's heart. Whitney is one of those people to me.

Whitney is my granddaughter, my only granddaughter! Some people have labelled her as a "special needs" child but they are unfortunately shortsighted. They seem to only see her as a "Down Syndrome child" while missing her true "specialness".  Most likely due to the fact I love her so much I see her as Whitney and she is indeed special to me.

Whitney, all twenty-four pounds of her, is special to me.  I think I am special to her as well.  When my wife and I visit our daughter and son-in-law and their children, I always receive a "special" welcome. If she hears my voice before she sees me she giggles and squeals with glee. As soon as she has me in sight she will say something like, "up up Papa!" I then receive a big hug on both my shoulders and sometimes a little kiss. My dear wife, Whitney's "Mie Mie" has to more or less wait in line so to speak.


Whitney is special to me!  She is my teacher. I think writers need those who can teach them about life.  She does this very well.  She teaches me to accept things I cannot change.  She also teaches me  to embrace life in spite of the challenges and scars it may leave.  

Whitney seems to live in a way that every moment is to be explored and enjoyed. When sickness or some other form of suffering comes her way she endures it and bounces back.  It may be she endures suffering for hope is ever present.  Hope to Whitney is personified in her mom and dad as well as her brothers.  They are there to literally pick her up when she falls down.  They are the ones who know just how to kiss away her "boo boos" and hold her when life seems so unfair.

Whitney is special to me!  Like my other grandchildren, the world is a better place with her in it.  When I am with her I don't have to prove anything.  She accepts me as she finds me.  Accepting people is a great lesson for all of us to grasp and practice.


Whitney is special to me!  She is an inspiration to me as I develop my writing skill.  I try to capture human angst, misery, suffering and pain in my writing without pulling punches. I also capture a balanced view by integrating such other human emotions as hope, joy, happiness, victory and perseverance in spite of hardship.  Sometimes I think I write under the shadow of Job's misery and the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in the book of Galatians. Be that as it may, Whitney's challenges and over-comings in life continue to inspire me.

Whitney's life journey continues to amaze and encourage me to receive life as a gift. She is an encouragement to others who know her to face challenges head on. She is not on her own in good times and bad. Those who love her are wise enough see beyond her limitations and are aware of their own.  This is perhaps where her "specialness" shines the most. She reminds us we are in this life together and to accept each other as we journey on.


March 21, 2015

The Reluctant Author-----Jocelyn Faire


I must confess to introducing myself as the Reluctant Author.

My journey into official writing began ... ten years ago.

I had often been told I had a way with words, frequently asked to speak. Life was full and rich, busy with a part time nursing career, raising three fabulous children, supporting my husband's business, working in the church, the community ... one of those Blessed Lives. And I was grateful.

And then everything changed in a moment, on an icy road, and I received that phone call from hell that no parent wants ... And the three young people that sat at my festive dining room table two months before, would never again come home for Christmas.

After the events of February 2005, I felt a compelling, an urge to write my thoughts and struggles. I had been a long-time journaller, and now I wrote my questions and hashed through my doubts with God. (He didn't write back, other than what he had already written.) Things were better when I wrote, it was one outlet for grief and brought clarity to confusion. Those early days, I also walked and walked, and as one heavy foot stepped in front of the other, I knew that I would need to share my story, some day.

I argued with God, tried to negotiate a better outcome for the way the grief impacted my life, my husband, my surviving daughter. God is a tough negotiator, but He is kind and infinitely patient, more patient with me, than I am with myself. (As I type this Twyla Paris is singing in the background ... You are God alone, and right now in the good times and the bad, from before time began, You are God alone.)

As the calling on my life to write grew in intensity, I started taking writing classes. I had always been an A student, and would not want a B-grade novel here. I discovered God's humour, we went out for coffee, and he brought people into my life that supported the journey of writing my memoir. I told God I would write, but I expected him to be in charge of promotions and advertising. He showed me a Social Media course to take, along with the Creative Writing certificate through the University of Calgary.

Verses that have carried me on this journey, all from The Message.
You have all this evidence confirmed by your own eyes and ears. Shouldn't you be talking about it? Isaiah 48:6

I show you what to do, where to go. Isaiah 48:17

He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. Isaiah 49:2
My father had been a poet, and I was also drawn to the genre, with its intensity of language, the imagery, the play on words. It spoke to my sense of God's mystery, his beauty and often his hiddeness.




HOLDING ON

What am I holding on to and why can't I let go?
Holding on to dreams I've lost
Holding on to promises of love, deserted in the storm
I am holding on to the quest for Beauty, in the midst of ugly
I am holding on to Hope, in the midst of hopelessness
And in it all I am holding on to you God,
But wondering if your love will fail, if you will bail?
Will your promises fall flat?
In my head I know ... in my heart I doubt.
A thousand petitions that I have given voice to,
I can only groan.

I have followed the rules of prayer
Tripping over the caveats added, when things go horribly wrong.
Pray specifically, pray in God's will, pray scripture into your lives,
pray the Lord's prayer, pray without ceasing, pray about everything,
Do not be anxious, but pray ... pray your worries away.
pray ... Pray ... PRAY
Prayer changes people not things.
Does prayer not change a thing?
When so much is at stake?
Can you know the desperation of my heart and still be deaf?
And I am given the answer you gave Job.
And ... I am silent.
YOU are God and I am not.
You hold the trump card,
But you don't crush me with it...
You allow me to turn it over.
And it is always the King of Hearts.

Jocelyn


Jocelyn blogs at http://whoistalking.wordpress.com. She is the author of "Who is Talking Out of My Head? Grief as an out of Body Experience".


March 19, 2015

Yes, I'm a Writer. YAY! by Joylene M Bailey

                                  What was my writing Eureka moment?
   


Well, let’s start with this:  I don’t think I’ve ever actually exclaimed the word EUREKA! in my entire life.

I have had some other moments, though. Like the day it suddenly dawned on me that I hated cooking. What a shock and a relief. That was more of a 
whadaya know? kind of moment. I hate cooking. Well whadaya know?   

Or the day in my mid-thirties when I realized with devastation that I would never learn everything there was to know in the world. That was a What? Noooooo! kind of a moment. 

And then there was the Huh moment when it hit me that Cap’n Crunch was my favourite cereal.

My writing moments have been more of a gradual dawning.

From my earliest childhood I made up stories. I’d make up stories in my head to put myself to sleep at night, or from the back seat of the family station wagon as we traveled across Canada every summer.

I often scribbled away on any scrap of paper I could find. And I became a great letter writer from my adolescence on. I WAS a writer, only I didn’t know it. I didn’t know I could call myself a writer.

I took the Writing for Children & Teenagers course from the Institute of Children’s Literature while my own children were toddling around my knees. I wanted to see if someone else thought I might be a writer. They did think so, but I didn’t believe them. I thought my instructor was too nice and didn’t give enough critique. Her comments were always more positive than negative and I didn’t think that was helpful at all.

I thought I had to be published and well known to call myself a writer. So, how would I know I was a writer unless I got published? But if I did send something to a publisher and didn’t get published how would I know whether it was because they didn’t like it or because I wasn’t really a writer? What a vicious convoluted circle.

When my daughters were school age I wrote little stories and vignettes for school newsletters and Sunday School papers. I even created an entire mid-week kids’ club curriculum for our church. And I still didn’t think I could call myself a writer. I didn’t know that having my writing in those little newsletters WAS “being published”.

I was afraid to send anything out into the world. But I kept writing. As cliché as it sounds, I couldn’t not write.

The gradual dawning started later, as I spent time with other writers. At conferences and writing groups I found out they were ordinary quirky people just like me. They were all at different stages in their writing journeys, they each had their own styles of writing and unique voices, and I was okay right where I was. As others shared their journeys I realized I could relate.

Indeed, I WAS a writer.

But I was still uncomfortable saying so out loud. I couldn’t call myself a writer.  

Then there was the Spring WordShop where the speaker shared that he was an intuitive writer. He never planned ahead of time what was going to happen, he just wrote and let the story happen on the fly. (Some people call this a pantser) I thought, “Hey, that’s the way I write! And it’s okay.”


That was my AHA! moment, which lands somewhere on the spectrum between whadaya know and EUREKA! That’s when I knew I could call myself a writer.

Since then I have been published in a couple of children’s publications, an anthology, FellowScript, and my blog. Being able to call myself a writer has given me the courage to send out manuscripts whether they be rejected or not. It doesn’t matter. I’m still a writer.

It is dawning on me as I write this blog post that THIS may actually be my EUREKA! moment. Or as close to EUREKA! as someone like me gets. 
YAY! suits me better.

Documenting my journey for this post has cemented in my mind that I am definitely a writer; that from the very beginning God gifted and called me to write, with my own unique voice. And that doing so brings Him joy.

YAY!












photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/28402283@N07/3346906435">Light Bulb No. 1</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>


 Photo credit: What if I fall

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