Yesterday was my birthday. 57 years of life. It struck me yet again how quickly the days goes by. I swear it was just yesterday that I was a kid, canoeing on Diamond Lake, walking my dog to the used book store to buy my Thor comics (which I collected until my senior year in high school, and which, when I sold my collection, financed my first year of college), gathering with my pseudo-cousins after church around the piano and singing. And, through all those years, it’s been there. Present in my mind and heart. Showing up in joy and sorrow and everything in-between.
Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading me stories. I had a library card as soon as I was old enough, and would come home with as many books as I could hold. When I was in grade school, and then high school, my best friend and I wrote stories based on our favorite TV shows, incorporating ourselves into the shows as the brave heroines. (That old western “Alias Smith and Jones” was a favorite. Peter Duell…sigh…) Through my teen years I wrote poems about life and family and love. In college, my senior project was to write and translate (into French) a children’s book. And, of course, I journaled. Oh, those angst-filled college journals! And then God lead me into the Christian publishing world, where I got to be immersed in the beauty and craft of words all day long.
More and more I believe God plants the love of writing deep within the fabric of who we writers are. That it’s there from the moment we come to life in our mothers’ wombs. That He nurtures and refines it through our life experiences. That we write because He looked at us at the moment of conception and said to the heavenly hosts, “There. That one will tell My truths to a weary world. That one will use the beauty of words to shine My light into the darkness.”
Writers, no matter where you are in your craft, no matter where you are in your career, no matter what people around you are saying about the market or industry, know that you’re doing what you’re doing because God breathed that desire and creativity into your very soul.
And, if you’re so inclined, share this birthday present with me today: Take a moment and look back. Then answer the following:
“When did I first know I wanted to write?”
“How has writing been a part of my life?”
Blessings to you today!
I made up stories to tell my little brother before I could write. Then I dabbled in writing stories and songs.
Fast forward to marrying young and needing a “real” career. During one of my doubt-filled college years, I remember looking at an independent bookstore and thinking if I didn’t get accepted to pharmacy school, I’d go there and apply for a job.
I’ve loved being a pharmacist, but I continued to dream up stories. Finally before I turned 50, I decided if I didn’t seriously try to write, I’d always regret it. So now, I’m doing both. We’ll see where God leads me on this adventure.
Thanks for sharing.
(Pete Duel and Ben Murphy…I spent lots of hours sighing over those two.)
Happy Birthday! I hope you had a great one.
When I was a teenager I wrote fan fiction for my own enjoyment. Then my friends started asking me to write stories for them, too. That’s when the bug really hit me, and I’ve been writing ever since–nearly thirty years.
I’ve written in several genres, but now I’m using my desire to write for the glory of God.
What a beautiful post, and happy birthday!
My primary gift is teaching. I have been teaching someone since I was four, whether it be little brothers, Sunday School, running my own summer preschool at age eleven, or a full career. But I also loved to make up stories, writing, directing, and acting in plays in our garage through elementary school, and moving on to musical theater in high school. For fifty years teaching held sway. Since I have been semi-retired, I have begun to write again, and I’m lovin’ it!
Karen, your memory of the library as a child reminded me so much of my own. My mom worked for much of my childhood, but there was a period of five years or so that she stayed home. My most cherished memories of that time was when she’d take us to the library. I always checked out more books than I could read before we went back again. I, too, wrote fan fiction (Happy Days) while in high school, and again, my mom plays a significant role in those memories, too. She told me from the time I could remember that she believed in me as a writer. She encouraged me through my adulthood up until the day she died almost nine years ago. Whenever I write, she’s in my heart and mind, cheering me on.
I can’t remember right now when I first wanted to be a writer because I’m too busy sighing over Pete Duel….
I think it was when I noticed stories in the Bible that weren’t complete, and I thought someone needed to flesh them out and tell them.
Happy Birthday, Karen.
I knew I wanted to write when I would spend all the lazy, heat-related days of summer with my best friend in her empty side yard, running around using our imaginations. We had nothing to occupy us but the tree in the yard and the expanse of our imagination. We played all day, and in the evenings, I would write down our journeys, trying to remember exactly how we played it.
Writing has been a part of my life as I went to undergraduate and graduate school where I majored in English and fiction writing. I can’t imagine not writing. Stories are my life’s breath
Wishing you a very happy birthday, Karen!
I honestly can’t remember the first time I wanted to be a writer. I finished my first story when I was 16, although that wasn’t the first thing I’d written. I’d been dreaming up stories for longer than I can remember.
The calling really came when I was 17 or 18. I loved to read, but the more books I checked out at the library, the more I realized how much of a need there is for good, clean, moral literature that honors Christ and His commands instead of mocking them. That’s when the Lord laid this scripture on my heart:
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. ~Hab 2:2
That was it. I haven’t been able to get away from it since.
Bringing HIStory to Life
Happy birthday, Karen!
I never knew I wanted to be a writer. After 3 years of one crisis after another, the last one being laid off, God called me to write a Bible study encouraging others that God can lead them through whatever life may bring.
Now, as I slowly work on my second study, I struggle to discover what His call is on the rest of my life.
Reading “Little Women” and connecting with how Jo loved books and stories.
Alice Stone Thomas
Happy birthday! I first knew I wanted to write when I was a high school sophomore and fell in love with a boy in my English class. I was too shy to even talk to him but wrote poetry about him all day. One night he phoned me to ask for help with an assignment, and when he asked me what I was doing I told him I was writing a poem.
“Whoa!” he replied. “Read it to me.”
And so I did. He continued to call for several months each night, probably to hear me read a poem about him. He was my first love and my first audience, but he soon found a new girl. Guess an audience has its time limit. Wish I still had those poems!
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first poem about soldiers on Memorial Day when I was 9 and our pastor put it in the church bulletin. Wrote a poem for my mother for Mother’s Day the same year as I didn’t have money to buy her a present, then another when I was 11 and my dad left my mother after 22 years. Somehow I realized that was a way of expressing my feelings. Sold my first poem to youth magazine when I was 14 (for $1.40) and my first short story to a teen S.S. paper when I was 18 (for $12). Then at 20 I got a job as secretary to a book editor at a Christian publishing house, and I was off! After 24 books and over 700 published manuscripts, writing is a very important part of my life. Like my mother, I see a spiritual application in almost every ordinary event.
Karen DeArmond Gardner
I have been an avid reader from the time I learned to read. At 57 I began writing. I spent my life saying ‘I can’t’ when God said ‘you can’. It is never too late to begin writing.
The day JFK was assassinated, I heard the international news on the radio as a nine-year-old Canadian fourth-grader riding the school bus home. That year my poem–presumptuously written in the postmortem voice of JFK from Heaven–was “published” in the yearbook. The bug bit firmly and my next momentous piece at age thirteen was a short story describing the moment Eve first awoke beside Adam in the Garden of Eden (possibly inspired by hormones, not sure). No looking back after that–except for a brief flirtation with medicine, abandoned when I realized I’d have to study science.
Nancy B. Kennedy
I’ve always thought that characterizing my desire to write as a calling to be a little lofty. I came to it in my freshman year of college, in the Watergate era, when I took my first journalism class. News and current events are what stirs my blood. The first time I stepped into a newsroom, I felt at home as I had nowhere else up to that moment. I am truly grateful that my interest in writing was so clear at such an impressionable time of my life. I’ve spent my entire career in newspapers, magazines and now books. I am acutely aware of what a privilege it is to work at something you love.
I verbalized it nonchalantly in my 20’s after failed relationships thinking I could write love stories but they would not end HEA; however, I didn’t seriously think I’d ever do it. In my 30’s I would keep written communications from more failed relationships thinking flippantly, “I may need this one day.” Later topic ideas started stirring in my heart, but the timing was not right: single mom, going to college, working, volunteering. During my new career, students would often ask what I would do if I were not teaching. I would say, “I want to write.” Yet, it felt more like a dream to write; I still didn’t believe I would. Later after unique circumstances surrounding a job loss and much prayer, I accepted God’s will for me and the gift of time to now start writing. Today, in my mid 40’s, I believe it with all my heart this is what I must do.
God used writing to help uncover secret wounds within my soul which I had ignored for over 25 years: wounds which needed healing, wounds which affected every relationship in my life. It was writing out my feelings, thoughts, prayers and memories that led me to discover what I needed to do for true healing which was forgive. I believe in writing to discover what is really inside our soul. Writing, just like prayer, gives our soul the ability to speak. Keeping a journal sporadically throughout my life has been a habit along with prayer journals.
Sandy Faye Mauck
Happy Birthday Karen- Have a blessed day!
Today’s post is amusing to me as I just put a new website together and put my mind scribblings in the lower Bio. I had to really think back and sort it all out awhile back.
I wrote my first book in 6th grade. Mystery short stories in Jr. High…
But I needed a lot of encouragement and didn’t go forward with what the teachers said. Being creative is hard because there really are forks in the road and you can’t go down all of them, although some may connect to another.
But it was the crazy out of context scripture that God gave me some 30 years ago that brought a glimmer of hope to the call: …a talent of lead….”
I agree Karen- it is woven in our fabric.
You grabbed me with the Alias Smith and Jones picture!
The writing bug hit me hard as a teenager, but I put the dream aside while I raised and educated my children. All through those years I’d think about that dream, but God’s answer was always “not yet.”
Four years ago He said “now.” I’ve been writing ever since – and I still feel like a beginner, even though my second book released this month 🙂
And Happy Birthday!
Like you, I was a reader first. My brother and I would pull our red wagon up to the small store by our house to meet the bookmobile that traveled across rural Alabama. We would check out 30 books. It was the monthly limit. I fell in love with writing at age 9 when I received an “A” on a booklet of poetry I illustrated. One of my poems began… My cat is fat. 🙂
Happy Birthday, Karen! I loved reading the library aspect of your story. My mom would take us to this old library, which I absolutely loved as a girl. I wanted to be like my mom and bring home lots of books. Which I did. I believe she taught me to fall in love with reading.
I’ve wanted to be a writer at least since I was 13 or so, when I read a forbidden book. That was the first time I thought of all that I would need to know to be a successful writer. And I didn’t know if I could ever do it. Confession: I checked out one of the yearly (not telling which year!) Writer’s Guide books and never returned it. 🙂 I knew I wanted to write, but I had no idea how to begin. So, I journaled and poured out emotions, experiences and life-glmpses onto those pages.
I still journal, and I write letters by hand (though not as often as I used to). But since I finally began pursuing my dream to write books a few years ago, that is where the bulk of my writing energy is spent.
I hope your birthday is wonderful!
How fun that so many of you know Peter Duel and “Alias Smith and Jones”! And thanks for the birthday wishes. 🙂
Love seeing how many of us have fond memories of libraries. Thanks for sharing your stories!
Ben Murphey was my fave! I love that show and watched almost all the episodes several months ago on Me-TV.
My entire childhood I fell asleep imagining myself the heroine of some story, often a Western, and almost always based on a TV show.
Happy Birthday! (I’m less than three months older than you!)
I saw Ben Murphy in an episode of NCIS recently. I think that was it, he was in uniform and that’s one of my favorite shows now.
This is so beautifully written, and I can totally relate to your expressions of the heart of a writer. I do think God plants the love of story deep within us. I don’t remember learning to read, but I do remember writing and illustrating my own stories from a very young age, probably kindergarten. In my early teens I realized the power of writing God’s truth into fiction, and that has been my heart’s desire ever since. I still hope that one of these days I will write well enough to share my stories with the world.
When I was midway through first grade, I used all the words I knew how to spell and wrote a story. My teacher was so excited she gave me a bookmark that said, “Keep on writing, Patty.” I don’t remember what the story was about, but I remember the effect it had on her. I continued writing through college, earning a degree in journalism. Writing for magazines was my specialty. In recent years I’ve delved in fiction, but writing has been a lifelong companion.
As soon as I could put words together, I began making up stories and telling them to whoever would listen. I loved language arts and writing papers in school. I might flunk an objective multiple choice or t/f test, but the essay questions always pulled me an A or B+.
Wrote my first short story in high school for English class and the teacher told me I had great potential and then in college wrote my first novel. It will never see the light of day, but it whetted my appetite for more. Took 50 more years before the dream came to fruition in the form of a full length novel.
I made weekly trips to the library to check out as many books as they would allow on my card and never had an overdue fine.
Hope you had a great birthday, Karen. Blessings for a wonderful year to come.
I’ve been writing since I was in probably 6th grade. I had a teacher in high school who discouraged me. But when I had children the dream of writing came back. I’ve studied it for years and spent endless hours reading. It wasn’t until my kids were grown that I seriously listened to God nudging me. I now post a devotion every week and I’ve completed a novel and started a second. I can’t not write. Ive been discouraged and wanted to give up, but I can’t. Thanks for the great encouragement. By the way. I love that you wrote fan fiction before it was popular.
Birthday girl, you lit a candle of renewal for this growing writer. Thank you for your message of insight and encouragement. It is a gift to all writers.
Happy Birthday, Karen! Thanks for the provocative post. At twelve, I put my desk in my closet so I could write without interruptions. A high school teacher encouraged me with high praise for a short story. By my senior year in college, I was starting papers early so I could take lots of time to rewrite, but didn’t tell anyone I was doing so. When my college advisor told me I could take a independent study course and write anything I wanted to, I nearly cried. I’d never known this was something the outside world thought worthwhile. For a while, work, family, and other responsibilities have taken most of my energy, but now, in my fifties, I am digging into serious writing again. What a joy.
Happy birthday, Karen! What a fun topic.
I started reading Janette Oke at eight years old, Lori Wick at twelve, and attempted several original stories along the way. But I think the love of story didn’t start with books for me. It started before I could read, way back when I first saw Disney’s Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Somewhere along in there was Anne of Greene Gables, Oklahoma!, Gone With the Wind, Ivanhoe and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
I admit, I had never heard of “Alias Smith and Jones” until your webcast the other day about marketing to editors. Hearing the name, I thought it was a contemporary spy series. Then I saw the cowboy hat above and HAD to look up a trailer. I couldn’t find one, but found most of the episodes online and stayed up into the wee hours watching. I believe I’m hooked. 🙂 The show puts me in mind of fun days watching “The Apple Dumpling Gang” with my brother and sister. And the dialogue is brilliant. Ha! Thanks for sharing with us and giving us a glimpse into your writer’s heart.