I began writing many years ago, without having any college training or professional background. I just put down on paper what was in my heart and in my head. Several family members and close friends told me that my writing was very good and that I should consider becoming a writer. But that’s what family and friends always say. So I didn’t take it too seriously.
Then I joined a chat room and began joining in a few of the forums there. It was during a time of political debates and elections, and there was quite a bit of tension and heated arguments in many of the forums. So I began a discussion based on sharing humorous stories about my children and animals, as an attempt to cool things down.
Soon there were several hundred people joining in, leaving comments regarding my writing a book of these stories. Several of the comments were from professional writers, and they were encouraging me to become a writer. Me! A real writer?
I had no knowledge of the writing industry, but I asked questions. And to their credit, I found that these writers were more than willing to educate me. Through their kindness, I found some confidence and encouragement, and I began pondering the idea of becoming a writer.
Of course, the picture I painted in my mind was one of me, sitting at my computer, furiously typing out a best seller in a couple of days, while the phone was ringing with offers and pleas from several publishers. I pictured crowds surrounding me in public, asking for my autograph. And I pictured financial success. (Yes, I know that’s funny, but it’s MY picture, so don’t rain on my parade.)
I bought several books on writing, publishing, agents, and marketing guides. After I finished reading them, I think I was more confused than before I started. And I felt a sense of fear, realizing that I had no idea of what I was doing.
I lost contact with the writers I had met in the chat room when the site was suddenly closed for unknown reasons. And things were changing in my life circumstances that were beyond my control. So for a time, I didn’t give much more thought to writing for a living.
But I kept writing, and sharing stories with friends and family. And my biggest fan was always my mom.
Then a few years ago there was an incident which hospitalized my youngest son. There were many people wanting updates and to share loving prayers, but even texting was difficult. So one of the hospital volunteers arranged for me to get access to a computer and set up a webpage where I could post updates and people could leave messages for us. The site was similar to a blog, and I began posting once or twice a day.
The posts were similar to a journal style of writing, and I included my own thoughts and feelings about what was going on with my son. I was writing to share with our family and friends. But by the end of the first week, there were several hundred people that were following this journal, leaving messages of hope and prayers, and requesting that I continue the posts. There were hundreds of people that I didn’t know, I didn’t even know how they found the site. But it was being spread by word of mouth (or computer links) and it continued to grow.
I was a little overwhelmed when I realized that in a short time, there were almost 4,000 people following this journal. And many of them were thanking me for sharing our story, and repeatedly asking me to consider writing a book about our ordeal. My mom was among them.
Over the next year and a half, I wrote the book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”. And while I was writing it, I was also learning everything I could about the publishing industry. Without knowing any writers or having any contacts in the industry, I knew that it was not going to be an easy endeavor.
When I finished writing the manuscript, I sent it to my mother and asked her to review it and give an honest critique, along with editing. I knew she had taken a few English and writing courses in college, so I felt confident that she would spot any grammar mistakes and such.
When she called after reading the manuscript, her voice was soft and shaky as she said, “Hon, you are a very gifted writer, and you did an excellent job”. At first I thought her emotions were very strong because of the subject of the book surrounding her own grandson. But it was more than that. She told me of how proud she was of me for completing this work, and that she believed in my ability as a writer.
Even when I confided in her that I had no idea of how to go about getting the book published, she said she had faith in me and that she knew it would happen. And she told me to never give up.
After careful consideration, I had decided to self-publish that book. To accomplish that required learning even more about the publishing and marketing industry than I ever really wanted to know, but I was determined to do it. It was a bit overwhelming and even frightening in some ways, but when the book was finally available for sale, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. And I finally realized that writing was what I wanted to do with my life.
I must say that going about it the way I did to become a writer was probably the hardest way. I highly recommend that anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing start by taking writing and publishing courses, and earning some credentials. It is hard enough for a first book to be a success when you know what you’re doing. But when you are learning as you go, and no one knows anything about you, it’s even harder.
I sent a signed copy to my parents and several other family members and friends. But I’m pretty sure that no one was more proud than my mother. It was a little over 6 months later when I finally was able to go visit, and she had my book proudly on display on her living room coffee table, next to her bible.
On that visit, I shared a few ideas I had for a Christian fiction series, and my mother liked the ideas. She said she looked forward to reading the books, and I knew she would always be my biggest fan.
My mother passed away the day after I came home from that trip, one year ago today.
In this past year, I’ve written a few articles and worked on a couple of different blogs. But when it came to working on the series I had started, I seemed to have developed writer’s block.
I managed to scratch out a few paragraphs now and then, but I just couldn’t find the time to really go after it.
It wasn’t until this morning that I finally realized that I have been feeling an underlying depression. I know it’s perfectly normal to grieve after losing someone you love. And in this past year, I have often missed my mother very much, and I’ve cried. But what I didn’t realize was that somewhere in my mind, my writing was, in a way, connected to her.
It’s funny how our brains work, making associations and connections that we don’t even realize are there.
But I also realized something else this morning. I remembered back to when my son was in the hospital and I began keeping that online journal. I knew as events unfolded in that hospital that there was a miracle that needed to be told. I could feel it in my heart that God wanted for me to share it with others, and I felt compelled to do so. I also felt a sense of pride with my mother’s encouragement to continue writing. But in this past year, I have not been doing what I was led to do. I was not honoring my mother, or God, with my procrastination and lack of commitment.
This day has been hard, and I know there will still be more hard days ahead. I also know that my mother would never have wanted grieving for her to stop me from doing something that is dear to my heart, and something that she was so proud of.
In realizing the connection I feel between my mother and my writing, I know now that I can turn that into a strength. It can be the inspiration to keep writing, even when I can’t think of what to write about. It can be the motivation I need to stay committed to my work, even when I’m too tired. And it can be the strength I need, to pour out my heart on paper, the words of my stories. And it can be a way for me to continue to say, “I love you Mom. Thanks for believing in me”.