I have three school based memories that for decades cemented my fear to write despite my love for it.
- A middle school teacher who red marked a story to the point it looked like someone spilled ketchup all over it. At the bottom she wrote in the red marker that my writing was mediocre.
- A high school teacher returned papers my mom sent in regarding an invitation I received to take a correspondence writer’s course. The teacher told me to pass on the course, it was most likely a scam. After all, my writing didn’t have potential. I wasn’t in English honors and my grammar was average. Her advice? Throw the invitation away.
- Another high school teacher let the class know his grading methods for writing essays. Whether he was joking or not I longed to be taken seriously and learn the craft my peers in honors English were learning. He said he threw papers on the stairs and the ones at the top of the stairs received the best grades, and the papers on the bottom failed. I graduated from high school thinking my writing life had no chance.
The two academic writing experiences I only recalled in recent years when I finally surrendered to write no matter what.
- A middle school Social Studies teacher bent down to tell me how much she enjoyed my pioneer diary. She let me know my writing style carried a lot of emotion and a mature plot, one beyond other entries from classmates. She encouraged me to keep writing.
- I was in a class middle school newspaper setting when the teacher asked if anyone could write something last minute to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. I wrote a poem in 20 minutes and handed it in. The teacher asked to speak with me. She wondered if I wrote the poem just then. When I answered yes she let me know the poem was inspirational and moving and she never saw a student write something that fast. She challenged me to keep writing.
Unfortunately I let the top set of circumstanced dictate too many years. Even though I have a BA in Communications I pursued safe writing projects. My little stories were my secret children I didn’t dare let the public know about.
The thing is, the “stir of the pen” never stopped. By 2006 the call was so strong to write I couldn’t ignore it. I remember sitting in church and listening to the story of Abraham and Isaac. I knew the story well and felt I lived it given we nearly lost our baby daughter and had to trust God with her critical health.
This time around God gave me a new perspective on the Biblical story. He gave me a picture of my writing on the proverbial chopping block and asked if I loved Him enough to write for Him.
No matter what.
That day I made a covenant with God. Since December 31, 2006 I’ve been writing full-time for Him. All those years I worried about rejection and it was only in 2010 that I received writing-related rejection and even then I laughed. There was no devastation or any other negative impact. I knew I was average against my writing peers. I also grasped I’m a called writer, not the best one.
God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. That’s what keeps me writing whether it is a paragraph for a newsletter or the latest edit in my contemporary romance.
One of my favorite quotes is from John Wayne.
Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.
Eleanor Roosevelt also said something that helped me when red mark memories and doomed writing career predictions consumed me.
No one intimidates you without your permission.
Whether you write or not, God has birthed something deep down inside that is meant to be used. Do you have a calling, a dream, that you’ve been fighting? Like Abraham, I challenge you to put your fears and dreams together on the block and let God have the axe. Chances are your fears will dissipate while the dream blossoms.
Let Him equip you today.