Thursday, July 2, 2015

Who Knew?

Last weekend I had the privilege of serving on the nonfiction panel at the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference. One of the participants directed her question to me, asking about my journey to publication. As I shared with that group, I realized some of my readers might like to hear the story too. I will tell it in a series of blog posts in the coming few weeks. Today I am reposting a condensed version of an article I wrote a few years ago titled, “Who Knew? I Became a Writer After All.” The original article was published in Writer’s Weekly, May 2011. It tells some of my writing journey but I will tell more in the next few blogs. Here’s the article:
The year was 1976. Our nation celebrated its bi-centennial anniversary and my community held a writing competition. Students from several area high schools were asked to write short essays called “Bi-centennial Minutes.” I participated because I had to…it was a required assignment in my English class. A few weeks later, a reporter and a photographer from the local newspaper walked into my high school and interviewed me. Why? –Because I had won the competition!
Another spring a year or two earlier, at my high school’s awards ceremony, my name was called as a “Laurel Leaf” winner. This award, given to a written piece, which I had submitted because, again, it was required in my English class. In other words, I had to. No one was more surprised that I won than me! You see, I could not spell or punctuate–at all. I punctuated written pieces like some people sprinkle salt and pepper on their food; I just sort of sprinkled some around in my written pieces, or so it appeared. I loved to write, but I grew tired of all the red marks my papers collected so when college came, I majored in nursing.
Several years ago, someone I loved struggled severely and I struggled along side of her. I longed to be able to pray more effectively for this person. I began a personal study of prayer, journaling as I gained insights. After a few years, my friend was better and I had a manuscript written. I discovered I loved writing, now that we have computers that can spell and punctuate for me.
A few summers ago, I read a newspaper blurb about an upcoming writer’s conference in my area. I longed to attend but I was not a writer, at least not a published writer. I showed the article to my husband, sheepishly confessing my new silly dream of becoming a writer. He encouraged me to attend. I laughed as I made plans to attend. I decided I would simply declare myself a writer.
The conference was wonderful! The speakers were great. I came back greatly encouraged and more excited than ever about writing. In one of the sessions, took a class taught by Lettie Kirkpatrick-Burress where I learned about writing small pieces like magazine articles and devotions, as well as how to find magazines in need of articles and how to write query letters.
I came home and tried what Lettie taught and to my surprise, I began getting contracts for my submissions. The money I spent on the conference was earned back and turned a small prophet in the first year. And guess what? Though no one saw it coming, I turned out to be a writer after all!

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