Thursday, February 5, 2009

At Times, Writing Time Is More Than Writing

Learning the craft of writing has covered over fourteen years for this student.

Before that, seeds of the desire to write began when I was a teenager. I wrote horrible poetry and immersed myself in exciting Nancy Drew stories. Then I raised my family and had a small home business. At night, though, I read to my children the now classics about a poky little puppy, a little engine that could, a tawny, scrawny lion, and the Egermeyers Bible Story Book.

When my youngest child was fifteen, I had a car accident that left me flat on my back. I couldn't’t move without help. I remember the happy day when I walked from the living room to the front door without any help.

About three weeks into the recovery, I began to feel sad. I had garden vegetables that needed picking, a house going to dust, and I was bored, bored, bored. I called my daughter, who was pregnant with our first grandchild. I told her I didn’t want to become depressed but what did God have for me now? It was obvious my energetic body would never work the same.

What she suggested changed my life. She didn’t miss a beat. “Write a book, Mom, you always wanted to be a writer.”

But for whom I asked her? She responded that I could write for adults, but I wrinkled my nose at that idea. “I know,” I said, “I’d love to write for children.”

Was this God’s way to allow me to realize my dream? I was never one to sit very long, except to nurse my babies. Now, I would sit long (in this case, at first, lay still) and read books on how to write, and then one day I’d write a story.

The next week, I had my husband drive me to the library. I was in tremendous pain, so I pointed at the books I wanted. He picked them off the shelf and carried them for me. He was intrigued, saying things like, “This is a lot of books isn’t it? Do you really need that one?” I told him I was grabbing anything that looked like it covered the craft of writing. When I got home, my husband stacked the books on the coffee table. The books stacked three feet high; I couldn’t see the TV from where I lay. Fine with me.

I’ve told that story to say that over the years, I’ve had feast time to write, with jobs coming that gave me longs hours to work and decent pay. And then there’s been famine, with no jobs, but I still wrote and stayed busy with the community of children's writers. I’ve read hundred’s of children’s books and been in several critique groups. I've sat in writer's workshops, taking notes, then, I coordinated writer’s workshops for SCBWI. Later, I took editing courses online. I’ve bought books for my own library on the craft of writing. When my son died, I wrote in journal form to sort out my thoughts. My audience for journaling is my current online critique group of six years. They have become my friends. I love you ladies!

Within three years after my husband carried that huge pile of books from the library, I published an article. It was about my husband’s job as a school campus cop. After that, over an eight-year period, I acquired three-dozen magazine clips, including a healthy eating column for teens. I’ve written many works-in-progress of various stages, including the two book-length drafts for middle-graders. One draft I’ve worked on for twelve years. This novel-in-progress has taught me how to write a longer piece. It even won a letter-of-merit from a SCBWI contest.

I never stopped being a writer, even though presently I’m not earning money from my work. As a matter of fact, I’m choosing not to publish articles and short stories. I’m giving my whole heart and attention to writing novels for children. Besides, on the occasions that I’ve worked on shorter pieces, my working novels grow jealous. “Where are you?” they cry out. “Write our story.”

So, I write morning and evening to satisfy my characters need to tell their story, the stories that won’t go away inside my head.

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