What It Feels Like When You Are Realizing One of Your Dreams…


I wanted to be a writer ever since I could hold a pencil. My first book “My Future Car” I wrote at a young age (I’m thinking 7 or so). I wrote all the time growing up. I loved to write short stories, books, poems, and even songs. And it wasn’t something I ever grew out of. It carried on into high school. I took Creative Writing classes and got better. When people would ask me what I was doing with my life, I said “I’m going to be a writer.” I even looked for colleges that specifically had Creative Writing programs.

I was so committed that I had a solid response to everyone’s standard joke, “Are you ready to be a starving artist?”

So, I got to college and I got into English classes, and they were very, very hard. It probably didn’t help that for my very first semester of college, I took a 300-level English class! It was a reality check. Then when I got into my 1st creative writing class, it was another type of reality. A humiliating reality. The teacher, wanting us to be prepared for the “real world,” would set us up into a big circle and criticize each other’s work. Note that I use the word criticize and not critique. I don’t recall saying nice stuff. I think we were conditioned to only notice bad things. And, taking his example, we were brutal with each other. He was the worst. He told some kid to burn his story, he threw one kid’s story in the trash saying it was garbage, and he once told me “there’s not one beautiful line on that whole page.”

Sticks and stones, my ass. That stuff hurts.

Well, suffice it to say, those classes effectively killed my joy of writing. It was junior year and I decided I was just going to do what I needed to do and then find some other job once I got out. My one roommate (also a Creative Writing major) was appalled that I was so unhappy and giving up. This made me step back and take a hard look at things. The next moment was a defining moment in my life.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I came back to the dorm, I went into the bathroom (there’s not much privacy in college), and I talked to God. “God, if you don’t want me to be a writer, let me know.” My heart broke as I felt his answer. No.

What was I to do with my life? Being a writer was the only thing I ever wanted to do. Without the identity of being a writer, I didn’t know who I was. I was nothing. Completely bewildered, my roommates sat down with me and helped me look at some of my other interests: teaching, psychology, Spanish, music. So, that’s when I switched my major over to Psychology. I jokingly say “To heal my soul.” (Side note: now that I am a counselor, I realize that my college professor had issues…just felt I needed to add that).

I gave up on my dream to be a writer and didn’t touch any writing (besides term papers) for a good two years. When I got into grad school, I wrote a bit of music and I wrote a short story for a dream class, but I still set my dream of writing to the side. I thought that God’s plan was me to be a counselor and to leave the writing forever.

But, I was wrong.

Somewhere around four or so years ago (after giving up on my writing dream for a good 7 years), I had an idea for a book. Normally I would squash them, but for some reason, I felt I really needed to write. So, I did. I wrote and wrote and then decided that I needed to try to get my book published. Through this process I found the American Christian Fiction Writers group. I signed up and for the first year, I didn’t do anything. But, then an odd, God-inspired event occurred…

I looked up some Christian book publishers on the back of books that appeared similar quality/genre to mine in a book store and found Thomas Nelson Publishers. From there, I found Michael Hyatt’s blog, which I read and thought, this guy is awesome. Then by some random turn of events, I remembered that ACFW held an annual conference, and I thought, maybe I should look it up and think about going. So, I did. And guess who the keynote speaker was…

Michael Hyatt!

It was a sign that I had to go to this conference. I got onto an editing and critiquing loop through ACFW and asked lots of advice about what you need to do for your first conference. I made new writing friends, whom I got to meet up with in Dallas, Texas for my very first conference, and I met tons of new people, writing for God. It was an amazing experience. And they were nice! (good change from the college days).

After the conference, someone told me about a local ACFW group that met once a quarter, and I met up with them and they were also awesome (you know who you are!), and they told me about NaNoWriMo (i.e. National Novel Writing Month). Write a book in a month, that’s crazy. And when does it start? The day after tomorrow? Why not? So, I ended up doing NaNoWriMo and in the process joined some online events and went to a couple in-person events and met amazing people! Not only was I writing again, but I didn’t have to do it alone. I had so many people inspiring me and encouraging me! It was a side of writing I don’t think I ever would have experienced if I had continued my degree.

So, from there some especially awesome people from the NaNoWriMo group formed Shenandoah Valley Writers (SVW), which is an awesome community of writers that I hang out with nearly every morning, if not multiple times per day. One of my friends, Rebekah, has a flash fiction site, Flash! Friday, which I put my stories in every Friday and occasionally win! I’ve started holding online writing events on SVW and on the NaNoWriMo page this year. I’ve made lots of writing friends, and I made more when I went to the ACFW conference this year.

I’ve learned a lot from the my writing friends and from the conferences, and it’s making me a better writer. I got a short story accepted into From the Depths, the Winter issue. I also got contracted to do a comic for GrayHaven Comics Women’s Anthology, coming out this year.

In two years, I have done more with my writing than I have in my entire life, and it feels great because it was God’s plan all along. He had me take that break, because He could see this ahead for me and knew how much it would touch my heart.

One of my heart dreams of being a writer is happening, and, God willing, I will one day have a book published. But, right now, things feel pretty darn amazing.

I’d like to share some pics of my writing friends and things that have been making me happy with my writing! I would also love to hear your stories about dreams that you have thought were lost that you are getting back to or when you have realized a dream.

Image

At my first ACFW conference with my critiquing buddies!

Image

Me doing research for my first book after my return to writing. I lived without electricity for a week. Laundry was the worst part!

DSCN3823 Being a renaissance woman, a silly blog post.

 

Winner badge-180x180

 

When I finished NaNoWriMo in 2012!

Image

A pic from an online event that I regularly hosted!

Image

A pic for an in-person event!

Image

I won “Best Story!”

Image

Excited about something on my blog.

Image

I did something great with writing for NaNoWriMo and won this badge.

Image I finished my NaNoWriMo last November. 50,000 words in one month!

Image I met my editing goal one month.

acfw2013conf

My new writing friends from the 2013 ACFW conference!

rebekahfritters

 

With one of my best writing buds, Rebekah, at an in-person meeting! 😀

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “What It Feels Like When You Are Realizing One of Your Dreams…

  1. Beth here! (new email and blogging identity, hehehe) And yes, I’ve been there!!!
    I am an artist, no two ways about it I love to create — visually and sculpturally as well as writing, I wrote my first book at about the same age you wrote yours. Then I discovered clay in our pasture… and once I had a horse of my own, both lessened as I spent every free moment during daylight with the equines and nighttime reading.

    But I always wanted to be an artist (like my dad) and still did a fair amount of watercolor and copious numbers of drawings. Off to college I went and earned a BFA in studio ceramics and planned to take some time to build my portfolio for entrance into an MFA studio ceramics program.

    AND Life Happened!

    I ended up spending 2 years in wretched pain, unable to move much. This was my first serious autoimmune flare, although back then it wasn’t recognized as such. Alas, with the pain went any chance of working in clay… I thought I’d lost the love of my life forever. Painting is great, but clay RULES. I couldn’t even hold a pencil or pen for more than a few seconds. Even so, I thought up story after story…but never got very far with most of them.

    AND Life Happened!

    The flare broke, and I was courted by someone who had gone to the same church as my family, when I was still too young to remember. He was charming and suave, and good-looking…. and eventually I was firmly on his hooks. The experience with this master manipulator (and later discovered to be a serial killer) was one that should have ended in my death at his hands, but my mom knew something was off — something was wrong — and she got help to break me away from this man’s control.

    AND Life was Happening Again!

    I decided, since health-wise I was still on shaky ground, to help others…especially those who were being manipulated into giving pieces of themselves to another. So I picked up the necessary undergraduate classes, plus a bunch of social work classes before beginning my Master’s in clinical psychology.

    Working on my MA was one of the best times in my life! I had a graduate assistantship, which was actually fun, learning (which I love to do), and most evenings I was painting again.

    After earning my degree, I went out into the big bad world to earn my living. I had hoped to begin work on a non-fiction book that I had begun planning soon after getting away from that manipulative killer. But a day doing therapy or psychological testing leaves you little to no energy for much else. Especially as I worked mainly with sex offenders and adult victims of molestation.

    AND Life Happened!

    I eventually burned out. For the next several years I took temp jobs and entry-level jobs doing physical labor, and my mind began the process of putting together that non-fiction book on extreme interpersonal manipulation. It got written…took years of research and I have no idea how many drafts, but it was written.

    No publisher wanted it, though. I may be good at the creative end, but marketing is something I have had to learn. I hate it. It shows, suspect.

    Looking back, I see how horribly dry the writing was; I was writing to two very different groups of people — the professional mental health crowd and the average person-on-the-street. Because of that, the writing stank. The info is golden, but the presentation has the stench of a three-day-dead codfish sitting under a sink. (And yes,I kinda want to rewrite it again and try again to get a publisher interested At some point.)

    All this time, however, I was writing other things as well, this time on a website I owned, designed, and coded. Topics ranged from cooking to how to ship artwork to (of course) extreme interpersonal manipulation.

    IN the Meantime, Life Happened!

    I was working direct care for a DDA (developmentally disabled agency) — I did one 48 hour shift (with sleep time) over weekends for a nonverbal man with a history of behavioral outbursts. (Because of my background in psych, I usually was assigned to homes with more behaviorally disturbed folk.)

    My sister, one day, was casually looking over what opening there were at About.com for Guides (experts) in the various topics, She saw they had a posting for a psychology guide (as they were then known). The next day I went online to apply, but there was no listing for a guide to psychology…. but there was one for pottery!

    I sent in my sample and was approved to go through the next phase of training, before a final decision would be made as to whether I would get the job or not.

    I GOT IT! Which meant, I GOT CLAY BACK!!! Proceeds from that job paid for a new wheel, kiln. Oh, the rapture of being at a wheel again, listening to the clay and having the clay listen to me. It was like the rejoining of long-lost soul mates!

    So now I got paid to do two of my most favoritest things! Clay and writing! It was through About.com colleagues that I found out about NaNoWriMo, and through NaNo I found so many new friends! AND…. I finally know the story I want to tell, and I believe for the first time I have the chops to write it the way it is meant to be written,

    After all, I’ve only tried to write a credible novel…oh, say…..fifteen times before this!

  2. Pingback: Lost and Regained | birch2stone

  3. Like you, I always wanted to write. I never imagined it was the path God had for me until about five years ago, though. I thought it was just some ethereal dream that probably wouldn’t happen. Now, I know it’s God’s plan for me. I’ve published one book through Tate, I have three manuscripts complete, and I illustrated a book that came out about three weeks ago. My biggest goal right now is to get an agent. I’m so glad that God has brought me down this path.

    I’ve met some of the most amazing people because of my writing.

  4. Hurray for not totally giving up! You should read my latest blog. I just blogged about not giving up and fighting till the end! Plus, no one should ever let anyone stand in the way of their success and/or happiness in life! Keep going, girl! One day your book will be published! No onne should EVER give up on their dreams! Dreams can become reality if you set your mind to them!

      • Very true. You just have to follow God’s path in life. He Himself knows what is best for you:) Hope all is well with you as I see on the news that the winter weather is not getting any better. From what I heard, it is getting worse! Yuck! Stay warm and safe!!

    • 18 Kasım 20uszmu1tafaaslanG1mel mesajiniz icin tesekkur ederiz, umarim onumuzdeki iki haftadan sonra daha etkin bir bicimde hizmet vermeye devam edebilecegiz. Faydali olabiliyorsak ne mutlu, iyi calismalar..  

Let me know what you think! Déjame saber qué piensas!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s