Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Growing as a Writer

I've been writing all my life. Three pieces from my grade school days come to mind, two poems—one a retelling of the Christmas story and the other describing an idyllic community with tree lined streets and lots of churches, a place where I thought I would like to live—and a fanciful tale in which I described the noses of the people who got off the bus while I waited to get on. My childhood diary was less interesting, featuring entries such as,"This morning I played at Gretchen's house. I had tomato soup for lunch." Clearly not all writing is equal.

With term papers in high school and college, essay tests, and letters, lots of letters, I had many opportunities to pursue my love of writing. Years later, when Tom and I found ourselves in a rural community where jobs were as scarce as hen's teeth, we decided to start our own business. Tom's background in graphic arts and publication design at Boeing and my writing experience led us to create a publication of our own, a magazine we called Family Scrapbook. We put up a half-wall in the huge living room of our hundred-year-old farmhouse, making it possible for us to keep an eye on our two preschool sons while we created our 40-page bi-monthly magazine. It was a venture far beyond our previous experience and proved to be just the creative challenge we needed.

Now, twenty years later, I look back through the seven issues of Family Scrapbook we published before the cost of producing a national magazine overwhelmed our resources, and smile deep inside, remembering the joy of working with my husband on a project so completely satisfying.

Christmas letters and an occasional article made up the bulk of my writing for the next fifteen years. Then one morning I awoke with an urgency to start a blog. I could hardly wait for my son to get off the computer so that I could get started. I lept onto the computer and hardly came up for air until I had my first post up. That was September 17, 2009. I've loved blogging–sharing things I care about while honing my writing skills. I joined Northwest Christian Writers Association (NCWA) and love hanging out at the monthly meetings and various writers conferences with folks who, like me, want to write to the glory of God.

Our Critique Group -- Members (left to right, standing) Me, Joan Husby, Diana Savage,
Agnes Lawless, Sylvia Stewart, (seated) Marjorie Stewart

A year ago I was invited to join a critique group. Of all my writing adventures, this is by far the most stretching. These women, these beautiful, creative, amazing women, have become dear friends and colleagues to me. Being with them for a year has inspired me to work harder and write better. It is a group who pours themselves into one another's writing and after the critique session ends we share our joys and concerns over brown bag lunches.

Each of these women is an accomplished and prolific writer and every time we meet I learn more about the breadth of their writing skills and the depth of their faith in Christ. I am grateful to have these lovely women in my life.

Are you a budding writer (or artist, or musician, or actor, or...) who wonders if you will ever really get good at your craft? Do you feel like the years are slipping away and you may never become accomplished and God will never use you? I have often felt that way too. But as I look back over the years I can see that the Lord was growing me as a writer all along. The childish poems and school essays, the letters to my camp friends, the magazine and the blog—these things were years apart but they were what I could do at the time. If you have a dream in you heart that the Lord put there, He will nurture it. Keep at it; find support through NCWA or another group; take a class; hire a mentor.  Bring your dreams to Jesus. He just may show you how He has been growing you over the years. And don't worry about when and how He is ever going to use you. Chances are, He already is.


Joan Husby said...

I remember Family Scrapbook! It was a joy to be a small part of your endeavor. And you were God-sent to our critique group. We all appreciate your enthusiasm, your wisdom, and your energy...to say nothing of your skills in the craft of writing.

Ginger Kauffman said...

Joan, thank you for your very kind words. I loved your articles and comments in Family Scrapbook and I'm grateful for our many years of friendship.