Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 – a personal recap

Have you ever noticed how easily we tune ourselves out? I know that in some cases, it’s incredibly beneficial to silence our inner critic, but sometimes, we end up shutting down our deepest desires at the same time because we think, “Such and such isn’t practical.”

So we take those activities that we enjoy and shove them into a hobbies box, running the risk of forgetting all about them. If writing (or painting, or playing the cello, or tap dancing, or gardening, or–you fill in the blank) is merely a hobby, it is easy to prioritize something else on top of that or to equate it with other hobbies like watching Netflix or surfing the internet for cat .gifs. (Guilty…)

Over the years, writing became just another hobby to me when it used to be my favorite way to pass the time. I wrote hundreds, if not thousands, of pages worth of material in high school. I drew maps for invented countries, developed specific customs, imagined magnificent beasts, and created an alphabet and pronunciation system for one of these worlds. I wish I could say that I created a new language, but I am no Tolkien.

In high school, I would spend the day in the computer lab writing instead of spending time with my friends, but by the time I had picked a major in college, my writing had been shelved as a hobby. I took a creative writing class in college–just for fun–but never considered taking it seriously. Then a year after college, I decided on a whim to test my hand at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and successfully completed the challenge on four consecutive years. I remembered I liked writing again, but it pretty much contained itself to the month of November and an occasional personal blog post.

But then something wonderful happened, which I can only call an aha!/God moment. In September 2012, my husband started his graduate studies in theology. At the time, we had been considering trying for a family around the three year point in our marriage, which would be this summer (July 2013). I decided, possibly selfishly, that I didn’t want to raise our first kid on my own and that if he was going to be in grad school then perhaps I should take the time and do the same, but I had a problem. I did not know what to pursue.

My undergraduate degree was in teaching English as a second language, and I enjoy teaching and grammar and all of those traditionally academic, left-brained trappings. So it made sense to pursue a master’s degree in teaching or TESL. And yet…nothing came alive within me when I considered those degrees. My husband suggested I pursue creative writing. After all, he had been my emotional support during the late nights of NaNoWriMo and had observed how much writing could mean to me. His suggestion felt like I had stepped out of a cave and into the light of day for the first time in years. I remembered what I looked like, and I looked like a writer.

I looked like this, only without the beard.

Fast forward a few months to January 2013, where I started my MA program. Everything had come together very smoothly, but I still felt like I was just taking these classes for fun, that I had not yet “proved” myself as a writer.

Fast forward a little bit more, and I found myself at a writing conference put together by these fine folks here. I felt peace instead of anxiety. I met other aspiring writers. I met agents and acquisition editors and published authors, and they were all wonderful people. I learned so much from the workshops I attended. I felt renewed. Most importantly, God showed me the final piece in a confirmation that was a long time coming. That final piece was Him.

And now, I have to chuckle through the tears of realization and wonder. I don’t know what this means or how this will all play out. I may only ever have this blog to express myself. God may be the only one who ever reads it faithfully. And yet, if He is the sum total of my audience? I think He is more than worthy of my time.

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One thought on “Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 – a personal recap

  1. Pingback: Day 17: List your highs and lows of this past year. | Ellayne Shaw

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