I started writing as a teenager. My mother was a journalist, and once in while, she put some of my poems and short stories in the local newspaper where she worked. Some say I inherited her gift. I wouldn’t say that, but I do love writing, probably as much as she did.
I’ve written several stories but never sent any out to get published. Correction . . . except for one. In 1998, I went to Africa on a 4 week short-term mission with Word Vision Canada. It was a journey I’d never forget. I kept a daily journal to help me to remember everything. When my husband picked me up at the airport upon my return, the first words out of my mouth were: “I have to go back, I forgot my heart out there. But this time, you have to come with me. Because there is no way I can explain into words everything I’ve seen, heard and felt throughout this past month.”
And so began the plans for the second journey. We knew that God would provide if this was part of His plan. As we looked at different ways to raise financial support, something suddenly dawned on me. What better way to tell people of my first experience but to publish my journal, with several colour pictures at the end? Guess who came up with the title: Through Well of Compassion © (thanks Mom, I love you!)
We had only 100 copies printed but the response was awesome. All money raised from the sale of the book went toward the second missionary journey. Part of me now wishes that I had published the second journal.
Writing stories was always a hobby but for a long time I never finished them. Perhaps I just didn’t know how. Last year, I read two books which had a lot of influence on my writing. I started a ‘new’ story, a courtroom drama. Little did I know how hard that would be. Oh I had a lot of fun writing it, there’s no doubt about that. But although the beginning and the end were both done, I had no idea how to tackle the middle, the court case. Reading courtroom dramas is one thing, writing them is another feat in itself.
I read real court cases, did some research on the internet, but that did not help. After much frustration and, I must admit, sadness as I worked so hard at it, I set is aside but followed the advice someone had given me. He wasn’t just anyone; he’d made it in the world published authors. He said, and I quote:
“I urge you to finish that story and start another. This emotional separation will give you two great assets. First, you gain an emotional distance from your work. Second, you learn through doing that your profession and your current work are not one and the same.”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the first story, but I did start another one. And this time, however, I used a different approach.
I’d come across a website called NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a time when people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in only 30 days. It seems like an awful lot but it’s only 3 pages per day. NaNoWriMo takes place in November, but as I read different posts and comments on their website, I found out that some people do this every month.
JanNoWriMo, for January, and FebNoWriMo for February, and so on. It was in February 2010 that I stumbled upon this, and decided to challenge myself at the beginning of March, just to see if I could do it. I knew it would be a great challenge as I work full-time, and cannot write from my work computer. But I was very fortunate. My boss allowed me to write in a notebook when things were not busy. At night, I transcribed in a Word Document what I had penned during the day.
At first I hated doing the work twice, but someone pointed out (yes the same someone I quoted above): “Sometimes this second writing allows you to take a step back and revisit the structural issues before they become too emotionally imbedded.”
And he was right. I finished my story on March 30, with 50,363 words. But things didn’t stop there. I came across another website, Word Alive Press. I requested their newsletter and found out that they had a free publishing contest. But I knew I couldn’t send my story in “as is.”
After doing much revision, and two wonderful friends proofread it, I sent it in to the contest. The winners will be announced at the end of August or beginning of September. So now, while I wait, what do I do?
I have two choices. I can edit the story I wrote last year. It may not be a courtroom drama, but it’s still a drama. I can give it a different twist to see what happens. OR, I can start another 50K words challenge from August 1 to 30. Either way, I know one thing is for sure: “I want to write.”