I feel foolish, sitting here as though I actually know what I’m doing. I’ve been playing at words for as long as I can remember, and getting nowhere. As Elizabeth George says in Write Away, “If you want to be published, but don’t want to write, you want to be an author, not a writer.” What does that say about me? I could make excuses, easily enough, about the time it has taken (and still takes) to raise children, educate them, work part-time, be the designated chauffer, laundress, meal preparer, holiday planner…sure, there are a million excuses. There are also the many nights where it was simply easier to sit on the couch and watch a movie or a television show, let my mind be lost in passive entertainment. Anything but do the hard work of putting words to page.
So here I sit. Doubting that I even have it in me to do this thing that I have wished and yearned for my entire life. After that first story I wrote, in 3rd grade, when Mrs. Baker of the tortoise-shell glasses and flowered muumuus praised the depth of my writing and “imagination,” I thought I could perhaps someday write something else deep and imaginative, something to make people think, make them feel. But things happened. Life, in all its twists and turns, happened. And let’s face it, choices I made which kept me from doing the hard work.
I remember as I wrapped up my Senior Project seminar, my advisor Dr. Al asked what I was going to do after college graduation (knowing full well that I had a baby at home). I demurred…not sure, might stay home with the baby, thinking about getting a Master’s. Who knows? Noncommittal. Unsure. Scared. He looked at me with that intensely jocular expression of his over his spectacles and said fiercely, “Just keep writing.”
That was seventeen years ago. I have written some since then. Not as much as I wanted to. Definitely not as much as I thought I should. I have spent more of my time in the past decade on the other side, teaching my children to read and write and discuss great literature. All of which have been challenging, time-consuming. And rewarding. I have revisited books I once read in college, now with a more mature, discerning, and insightful eye. To my chagrin, I have even read some great books for the first time with my children, books that as an educated human being with an English degree I should have read long ago. The life I have lived during those seventeen years has changed me, as life tends to do. Significantly, I am a Christian now, and didn’t begin that way. My faith has given me such a different lens through which to view the world, my place in it, and the talents that I have been given. Perhaps those seventeen years were what God used to shape and mold and press me into who He wanted me to be before this journey began.