Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Writing

Next topic to tackle is my writing.

I have always loved to write and have been coming up with short stories and poems since I was in elementary school.  The first such that I recall was when my great-grandpa died and I wrote a poem for my great-grandma that we gave to her when my mom allowed me to miss school so she and I could drive from Kansas to Oklahoma to attend the funeral.  I was deemed old enough for my first funeral and my dad stayed behind with my younger brother.  I remember mom being especially touched and proud of the poem I wrote.

In middle school, we were instructed to create a couple of "books".  We wrote a short story, typed it up, and even "bound" them with posterboard and colored tape.  My best friend typed mine up, as I only had an old typewriter at my disposal and she had a word processor.  I remember my story evoked spiritual questions from her which never occurred to me that someone might have.  I was raised in church and thought everyone knew the things I knew.  But, that's a whole other story.  My "books" were a mini-series and though I can't prove it since they went missing along with a large box of my keepsakes, including my cap and gown and several yearbooks, the first story was eerily similar to Nicolas Sparks' A Walk To Remember.  I'm not kidding.  Sheesh, if only I'd found an agent and publisher at age 13, I might be as famous as Nicolas Sparks.  Of course, mine was a little more evangelistic than his was.

In high school, I took a whole class on creative writing.  I loved it!  My short stories often blossomed into longer short stories and I wrote non-rhyming poetry as well as silly limericks.  I had several pieces published in the school's creative writing publication.  I could live in my fantasy world.  I could be as silly and goofy as I wanted without having anyone judge me and I could be real and broken and sad and admit all my secrets, yet hide behind a fictitious character and no one would know that those were my real feelings.  I could kill people off without feeling guilty.  Okay, so maybe fictional killing is still bad...but it's therapeutic!  I could write the happy endings that I wanted, unlike life which is messy and less succinct.

When I went to Bible college, I took my required English courses and enjoyed it.  Yes, I am weird, but I actually like diagramming sentences!  My professor asked me why I was not an English major.  I said it was because I had wanted to study Bible (my major was Bible, with a concentration in Women's Ministries).  He said that I should be a teacher or a writer.  I was flattered, but didn't consider it much.  I knew I didn't want to be a teacher.  A writer, maybe, but I had come to school to study Bible, not English.

I continued writing off and on and not long after, I wrote a full novel.  I'd had an idea for a premise based on a news story and a conversation I'd had with my then-husband before we had any children.  It took me a couple of years to finish before it became Joy Comes in the Mourning.  I gave copies of it to several friends and relatives to proofread and give me their thoughts and they all loved it.  But, I didn't know what to do with it.  Who wants my book?  Who will publish it?  How do I get published?  I didn't have money to self-publish, so my book sat on a disk and went nowhere.

I occasionally would think of another idea for a book and jot it down.  I wrote some song lyrics when I was going through a difficult time, but since I had no ability to write music, those sat unread.  I eventually started a personal blog just to practice writing.  Mostly it was stories about my life and my kids.  Funny things and memories I wanted to remember.  Sometimes I just wrote song lyrics down because that was what was speaking to me.  But, I also wrote a couple of short stories.

Last year, a friend sent me a link to a page on Amazon.  A friend of hers had self-published a book on Amazon for free.  Wow!  I thought back to my novel that hadn't been touched in ten years.  Maybe publishing was a reality after all.  I pulled up my novel and had to do some reformatting since ten years of technology made the program I originally wrote it under nearly obsolete.  I spent a while editing again.  That's the thing about us writers--we are never really ever done editing.  I could rewrite something every single time I read through it.  Or find a mistake.  Even though I am a stickler for spelling and grammar and punctuation, I bet I could find an error with this post of mine!  [Bingo, in skimming back over, I DID find a typo and fixed it!  Ha, ha!]  I'm a tad bit picky!  I finally got my novel to where I felt like I could release it out of my hands and into the big world.  I created my cover, complete with my own photography, with the help of Amazon's cover creator tool.  And then I held my breath and published.  That was about six weeks ago.  I have had a handful of purchases and no borrows from the Kindle lending library.  Lots of downloads when I offer it on a free promotion (which I actually have going today, as a matter of fact).  A friend of mine who writes a savings blog (which I have been invited to participate in) reviewed it on her site and also left me a nice review on Amazon.  It's my first novel and a learning experience.  I have many more ideas and have grown a lot since writing that novel.  I don't expect to get rich or become famous or hit a best-seller list as a writer, but I want to put my ideas out there instead of just having them sit in my head haunting me or taking up space on my hard drive.

What's next for me?  Well, I have several book ideas, but the two I have been working on in recent days is my life story and a devotional.  My life story isn't intended for public publication.  I decided to write the story of me for my kids.  People have told me that I am dramatic and live a soap opera life, though that's completely not what I desire--boring would be best.  However, I don't think anyone would be interested in who I am.  I'm not famous and people aren't clamoring to know me.  But, I think my kids, when they are older, might enjoy reading about the life their mom had before they came along and gaining insight into what I think and feel.  And as a student of genealogy, I have that inkling in the back of my mind that someday, my story may be found valuable by one of my descendants.  

The mother-daughter devotional will likely be the next publication.  I wanted to have a study I could do with my daughters who are 11 and 13 that was relevant to their life today.  Granted that many topics are timeless, especially when it applies to living the Christian life.  But, topics such as sex, drugs, suicide, dating, cutting, and other hot-button cultural topics are not always discussed in the average devotional or by the average mom and change from generation to generation.  So, I decided to tackle the tough topics.  I have a list going of over one hundred topics that I want to write about and that number grows when I hear one of my daughters talk about something or when I hear of the trouble a friend's daughter is having or when I hear a question asked by one of the teens in the girls' discipleship group I help out in.  The unique bonus on this book is that after I have my say (and relate what God has to say) and talk to my girls about what I want them to learn from it, they will have the opportunity to write their own thoughts about the topic.  I think I will call that "Kimberly's Korner" and "Arrena's Advice"--though I am not totally sold on those titles yet.  If you have a topic that you think would be a good addition to my mother-daughter devotional, please let me hear about it.  Maybe you're a mother that would like to figure out how to talk to your daughter about a particular topic or maybe you are a teen that would like some answers about a difficult situation.  In the right column, there is a contact form where you can submit your topic idea.  If I use your topic, I will email you a copy of the devotion I write about it.

Check back often for exclusive looks at some of my short stories and poems and sneak peeks of upcoming books.  If you are interested in my first novel, the link is above (click the title "Joy Comes In the Mourning") or visit Amazon.com and search for it by title, being certain to spell "mourning" the correct way.  There are several with that same title.  Look for the one by Robin Lynn Davidson.

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