I’m not really sure where the interest came from other than from God. When I was a child, I began writing wildly imaginative pirate and fantasy stories. (I rarely finished them, and I never had a plan.) My first handwritten story was a fantastical tale about Captain Kidd’s spyglass. (You should see my loopy handwriting. Cracks me up.) In high school, I also wrote and finished an unpublished novel called Down with the Ship. It’s such an Agatha Christie copycat that I laugh whenever I peruse it, but emulation is how a lot of authors get to be where they are today. They find a novel or author they love and try to write something just as good, if not better.
During high school, a couple of friends and I would swap a school notebook filled with our own crazy scrawlings: sometimes adolescent notes about life, sometimes creepy stories. (I still have one of those notebooks.) I entered a couple of short story contests (which I never won), but my English teacher, Mrs. Delores Forsmark, was so supportive. It meant so much to me that she took the time to read my stories, and she was always positive, even if I had written something weird that I knew she probably didn’t like. I entered a Veterans for Foreign Wars speech writing contest and took second place. Then during my senior year, something happened that changed everything. I took first place in a Christian school state creative writing competition. Winning the contest was a turning point in my realizing what God wanted to do with my life. He wanted me to write!
In college, I wanted to major in creative writing but knew I’d never be able to support a family with that sort of degree. However, I spent available electives on every creative writing class I could take: short story writing, novel writing, script writing, expository writing, article writing, and the list goes on. I majored in print journalism (at least I was still writing) with a minor in history, but news writing never held much appeal for me. Even feature stories left little room for the imagination, but I still found ways to be creative.
Along the way, God began to direct my life. During my junior year, I won an extemporaneous essay contest on the topic of “walls.” (Yep, we had a blank piece of paper, a pen, and about a half hour to write whatever came to mind.) I chose to write about my visit to the Berlin Wall during a missions trip to Germany only a couple of months before the wall came down. I was also a finalist in a hymn text writing context two years in a row—to God be the glory! Then I was asked to be editor of The Collegian, the campus newspaper, during my senior year, and I was privileged to serve in that capacity and to write several editorials. More stepping stones.
Right after college, I began publishing short stories and articles. These opportunities were all more confirmations that God wanted me to focus on writing. I pursued journalism as a profession, achieved my B.A. in that field, and work to this day as a professional editor to support my family; but in my heart I’ve always wanted to write stories.
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