Sunday, September 14, 2014

Leanna's fav's #6: Unexpectedly Grateful: Becoming a Writer

In celebration of the upcoming first birthday of Lines from Leanna, we are celebrating with Leanna's Favorites this week and the most popular posts of the year next week.  

This is the story of my "writing roots"; it's how I became a writer.
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The first meeting of the new Blue Springs Garden Club was tonight. My entire day had been crazy from beginning to end, so, of course, I was late arriving. The speaker had already started and I was trying desperately, but failing miserably, to make an unobtrusive entrance. As I slipped into the room where we were meeting, something on one of the end tables caught my eye. It was a copy of "The Clay Papers", my first book. I smiled and hurried to my seat. "What a kindness to not just remember that book but to display it!" I thought. It felt like a secret blessing from one friend to another. I was thrilled. Remembering all that book meant to me was completely distracting. I'm afraid I missed quite a bit of what the speaker said as I thought about the stories in that book and how I became a writer.

In the mid 90's the internet was still young. People were just beginning to have computers in their homes. It was already clear that much evil would come from this new technology and it seemed like a good idea to reclaim the technology for the Kingdom. I offered a brand new kind of service. It was an email prayer ministry for our church. People signed up and I began by sending out a verse and a little prayer starter. Before I knew it, the sentence was two, and soon became a paragraph. As you can imagine, one paragraph became two and things grew from there. 

Everything changed when I started taking pottery lessons a few years later. I was so moved by the lessons that I would think about them all the way home. As I drove, the lessons began to take shape as little stories. I would type the stories and send them as an "email extra". Pretty soon, I had an entire series. People began to make comments like, "You should put these in a book." That seemed like something that only very super-special people did, but not something that someone as common as me would ever do. 

When the pottery classes ended, I continues to write little stories about my everyday life. Before I knew it, there was a pretty big stack and I couldn't decide what to do with them all, so I started a notebook. You can guess what happened. Of course, I filled that one and started another notebook of little stories.  

Looking back, it makes me laugh. I was going to a Physician Resource Council meeting and, for some crazy reason, I stuffed a manila envelope with stories and slipped it into my suitcase. I wagged that envelope all through the meetings for several days.  In one of those crazy God-orchestrations, Susan Stevens, the editor of Physician magazine came to speak to us and was having lunch with us that last day. I was strongly impressed to give them to her, but thought I would probably die if I did. Finally, I summoned every bit of grit I had and just said I had brought some little stories and wondered if she would take a look. She was so gracious that she made my clumsy approach seem like the most reasonable action I could have taken. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it was to leave that envelope in her hands. It felt like I had cut my heart out and handed it over. Those stories were "me" and I was terrified of what she would say. 

The good news was that she could not critique them until she had read them, so there was no way I would have to face her after she'd gone through the packet. A week or so after I returned home, a letter came that looked very suspicious. I had a feeling it was "the letter". You know, the letter I'd been dreading and longing to receive. It was, indeed, the letter from Susan Stevens. I had to read it over and over to be sure. She said she had loved my stories and she had picked out two years' worth of stories for the magazine. She planned to use one each issue. Two years. I was shocked and thrilled and crying and laughing and astounded. In her letter, she called me a "wonderful writer"! I couldn't even say the words, "I am a writer."  That seemed too mysterious and wonderful to imagine, but a real editor had really said I was a writer, so maybe I really was.   

As you can tell, it turned out that I really was a writer. I wrote for Physician magazine until budget cuts cancelled it. I've written for other magazines, and newspapers, written multiple Bible studies, and finally wrote that book about the pottery lessons. These days, I'm astounded by the frequency and the sheer volume of writing I'm doing. 

What sweet memories that little book on the side table brought back! The thing I'm grateful for today is not just that I've become a writer. I'm thankful for the journey that brought me to this place, all the people who gave me a chance , all the encouraging words along the way, and those precious people who have not only read the words I've written but seen them as valuable. Thank you.