It’s a story a lot of people tell: that they’ve been writing since they were children, that they’ve been writing even when no one was reading, that they’ve dreamed about writing books for most of their lives.
That’s my story, too. I’ve been a writer ever since I learned to use words. First, I was writing my name and my age; a little later I was writing stories in blank books in second grace. Fast-forward a bit and I was writing my first poems, my first journal entries (diaries with locks and keys, anyone?), and then I was writing high school essays and fiction vignettes.
Photo by Ann White Photography
In college, I learned to write outside of my comfort zone. A few souls–professors and fellow lovers of Jesus–led me through the forest of words with their own machetes, and once they led me far enough, deep into the thick of language, they handed the knife to me. I started learning to cut out words in college, to make language mean in the ways I wanted it to, and to take risks to alter my voice on the page in surprising, exciting ways.
These are things only writers really care about–the lilt of a sentence, the shape of a phrase, the cadence of a line. And I found, the further I went into words and story and the grinding turn of revision, that I met God in the process of writing in deep, deep ways. I loved that when I wrote, I felt his nearness; I felt, more than anything, at home. I loved writing not only as a hobby or a passion, but as a career and as a calling. And so, I went to graduate school.
There, in graduate school, I was stretched nearly to the point of breaking–not because I was so wonderful as a writer, but because I felt so weak. I remember my first workshop in my MFA program, when I realized how weak my writing was. The other writers sitting around me used words more deftly than I did, and they commanded language with a precision I did not yet have.
And I had a choice. Was I going to keep writing? Was I going to keep trying?
No one was reading my words, other than a handful of friends and family. No one cared if I kept writing, or if I didn’t.
But I felt the courage of God to try, and to try again, and to try yet again. I stayed the course in graduate school because I wanted to see if I could do this–if I could write with power and grace and if I could find my own voice. And through the guidance of more professors–women who love Jesus and who wield words like flame–I learned. I grew. I found my voice as a writer.
That was years ago. I have still been writing, and I have been teaching, and I have still been seeking to grow and learn and stretch as a crafter of language. Although I write many places, I have been sharing my story and my heart in the form of a book that I have labored over in the quiet of libraries and coffee shops, unsure if anyone but Jesus would ever read it. I started this book not because anyone required it, but because I believe that this is part of the story I have to tell.
And just this past month, the team at Tyndale House Publishers offered me a contract to write this book with them.
I am more honored than I know how to say.
I am more humbled than I can express.
And I am grateful to the Lord for the chance to write a book about my story that is, hopefully, a book that is ultimately about His story and his presence in the world.
I can’t wait for you to read it. Although, you’ll have to wait–until 2017. Sorry! But in the interim, I’m going to write my heart out and, with His grace, seek to make this a book worth waiting for.
Thanks for celebrating with me!