I’ve been writing almost as long as I have known how. My earliest writing went into letters, mostly to my grandmother, later to friends and cousins. In my pre-teen and early teen years I poured my heart out in journals, which I sadly did not keep. I wrote a few stories here and there, but most of my writing has been factual. I seem to process what I am thinking by writing it out, pulling one strand of thought out at a time and laying all the strands out to see how they fit.
In high school my speech teacher wrote for a neighborhood newspaper and advocated for me to write a regular column for our school. In early married and young mother years my main writing was directed to my mother-in-law to keep her up-to-date on her grandchildren 2,000 miles away. I had a few magazine articles published. In 2006 I started a blog and have loved having that outlet.
Once, while visiting my mother-in-law, I saw a little booklet produced by the ladies’ ministry of her church. It was mostly made of of news for the group, but had a place for devotional thoughts, poems, etc. I liked it so much, I brought a few samples home and showed them to my pastor. When I asked him if we could do something like that for the ladies of our church, he told me to go for it. I compiled a 12-16 page monthly booklet for our ladies there for 9 years. When we moved to TN, the pastor’s wife of our church there asked me about writing a ladies’ newsletter for our group. I showed her samples of what I had done in the past and asked what she thought. She liked the idea, and we discussed what changes we would like to make. I compiled a monthly ladies booklet for that church for over five years. I wrote about these booklets in more detail here.
Once in the first church I mentioned, our ladies meeting hosted an open discussion about devotions, quiet time reading the Bible and praying. Every lady who shared was not satisfied with her devotional life. Some had trouble getting a regular time established, Some had been reading for years, yet felt they could be getting more out of the Bible. Most struggled with distractions, sleepiness, and lack of motivation. I started a column in the newsletter to encourage ladies to maintain and make the most of their time in God’s Word.
I began to think that perhaps those devotional columns could be made into a book. I made an outline and did some preliminary work, but set it aside while raising my children and participating in various other ministries. In the meantime, I was a community guest columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel from October 2011-October 2012 and contributed to The Perennial Gen, Blessed But Stressed, and iBelieve.com.
In March of 2018 I had the unexpected opportunity to go to a writer’s conference. I had heard of writer’s conferences but had no real thought of trying to go to one. But I saw a notice for one in a town where I used to live, only three hours away. Since it was in a familiar place, that took away some of the angst about going there alone. But I did not think it would work out. We were taking care of my husband’s mother in our home, and I didn’t see how I could get away. I didn’t even mention it to my husband for a few days while I thought it over. When I finally did tell him, he encouraged me to go, and he would work around his mom’s care.
That conference showed me much that I didn’t know, but it jump-started my desire to actually complete this book. I’ve been making time to write in the midst of everything else going on as I am able. Though I started out with what I had previously written in the ladies’ booklet columns, I couldn’t just copy and paste those columns. I needed to revise, fill in gaps, smooth out overlapping information, and employ some of the writing techniques I’ve learned. My first draft is finished, and now I need to go back and edit and shape up each chapter.
I was able to attend a second conference this year and received a much more positive critique of my manuscript excerpt. Plus I won a couple of writing contests there. All of that encouraged me that I have grown and improved in my writing and spurred me on to continue writing, growing, and improving. I’m reading books and writing blogs to learn more about writing and publishing.
In many ways I regret that I did not start writing a book earlier. I’ve had the desire to write a book for some 30, maybe even 40 years. On the other hand, I think those years of writing a newsletter booklet and blog exercised my writing muscles. I don’t think I could write this current project without that background of writing regularly to encourage friends.
I have a few ideas for other books projects. I’m looking forward to exploring them after I finish this current project.
Thank you so much for your encouragement! When I first started a blog, I had no idea that I would make such dear friends online. I’ve enjoyed meeting a few of you in person. Some of us will probably never meet til heaven. You’ve blessed my life in more ways than I can tell.
(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Booknificent)
I enjoyed reading about your journey! Barbara, I think you would be a great author (even as a write that, though, I’m thinking — you already *are* a writer). Your writing is always clear and encouraging. Wishing you the very best as you continue using your gifts in God’s service.
Thanks so much, Susan! Your words touch my heart.
I am so happy to know that your book is nearing its completion! It has been on your heart for awhile I know. You are a gifted writer and I am so blessed to call you a friend!
Thanks so much, Melanie! I treasure your friendship, too!
And you have blessed so many of our lives more than you know. Thank you.
Thanks so much, Doris. You have been such an encouragement.
I agree that weekly blog posts help to build writing muscles. Congratulations for your faithfulness all these years. May the Lord richly reward you!
Thank you, Hope!
i love that we’re both writing about … writing this week!
thanks for sharing your journey, Barbara. it goes to show that writing is a long and winding road. but oh how fulfilling, no matter what form or shape it takes …
It is, indeed. Thank you, Linda.
how very exciting that you are working on a novel………..what an amazing feeling it will be when you see it in print. 🙂
Well, I am working on a nonfiction book. I’d love to try fiction, but it would have so many more decisions to make. 🙂 Maybe some day. I do look forward to that day of seeing my work in print.
🙂 cheering you on!
Sounds to me like you’ve always been a writer! I’ve been blessed to read your writings through the years. But you’ve also been a thinker and believer, which makes your well-written words worth reading. Thank you, friend, for all the encouraging words you’ve written to me.
Thank you so much, Lisa. You bring tears to my eyes.
This is a wonderful essay of your writing experience. You most definitely need to finish that book.
Thank you, Susan. I hope to this year.
Other bloggers have been my lifeline! Keep on writing, friend.
Thank you, Amanda. I have learned so much and been so encouraged by bloggers.
oh i really enjoyed your journey of writing Barbara. Since I live way up here in NY and you live down in TN ( if i remember correctly) we’ll probably meet in heaven! I’ve enjoyed getting to “know” you through your writing on this blog and I always look forward to when you visit mine. Happy writing!!
Thank you, Faith!
Better late than never! And i loved reading the blog post😊
Thanks so much! I take heart in the fact that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t start writing books until in her 60s, though she had written magazine and newspaper articles before that.
I had always wondered about your writing journey and aspirations. Thanks so much for sharing.
Thanks so much!
I love hearing about the journey of other writers. I’m so glad the conferences have helped give you the encouragement and motivation to keep going. The world needs your voice. laurensparks.net
Thanks so much, Lauren.
Pingback: Friday’s Fave Five | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Book Review: How to Understand and Apply the New Testament | Stray Thoughts
Somehow I missed this post back in April?
So excited for you!
Thank you, Michele!
Thanks for sharing about your journey at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
Thank you, Tina!
Pingback: Writer Newsletter Survey | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Writer Newsletter Survey Results | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: A look back at the blog in 2019 | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: January Reflections | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Blog Birthdays and Musings | Stray Thoughts