From the post I put up here last week, one might think that my writing is sometimes like cooked spinach on my plate--why on earth would you eat that? Ever since that post (and thank you all for being so dang understanding :-) I've been thinking about the other side.
If it's SO much work and SO hard to do, why DO it at all? Here's why.
I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father that loves me, and one way that he has shown his love for me was to send me to earth with a wide array of little packages that through my life I get to open. One of those packages was presented to me about ten years ago in the form of bedrest, Lifetime Television for Women and Anita Stanfield. I was on bedrest with a pregnancy, I was battling depression induced by this circumstance and I was bored out of my mind. The next three months looked like a very long and dark road for me. But there was another road that worried me even more. As I'd grown up and had children I had been a bit worried to realize that I didn't feel 'filled up' the way I thought I would. It's not my kid's fault or my husband's fault, in fact I think most, if not all, mothers of young children feel this way at times. There is so much that needs doing, and we feel so incapable of being the one to do it all. I read a lot at that time--it was my escape and I cherished the opportunity to travel the world and live different lives for a few hours here and there. I think most, if not all, mothers of young children find similar escapes. If it's not reading, it might be sewing, if it's not sewing, it might be geneology, or crafts, or home decor, or welding. We need the reminder that we are someone. We are an idividual and while raising my kids would hands down be the most rewarding and important job I'd ever had--I was not sent to this earth JUST for them. THEIR plan was not MY plan. I still had to find a way to be me, and to enjoy who I was.
When I started writing in October of 1998 I unwrapped a gift that had lurked beneath the surface--sometimes way beneath the surface--for a long time. I started a journey I never imagined I would ever make and my life blossomed. Despite the hard parts of it, I was opened up to a whole world of possibilities I'd never even realized were there. And through my journey I have continue to unwrap many, many gifts I'd have never realized if I hadn't opened that first one. Here are a few:
1) Friendships. I have met some of the MOST amazing people through my writing. Between fans and fellow authors, I have been blessed with wonderful friendships with people that love and support me. This is something I didn't expect as an adult and, without my writing, I'm not sure I'd have ever realized it was possible to have such great friends, to have girls-nights out, and conference weekends where we stay up until 2:00 a.m. And my life would not be the same without these people in it. My writing invited many of these freinds into my life, without it, we'd have never met.
2)Assurance of my Father in Heaven's love. I know without a doubt that my writing is a gift from God because I could never have done it myself. I did not set out on this path, I found it and I believe it was God's will that I did so. When I struggle or succeed I feel the prodding of something bigger and much smarter than myself. I have written scenes that a wriggling-squirmy feeling has told me to delete. I have also had ideas fully land in my brain that ended up being powerful realizations--not only of the story I'm writing, but of the life I'm living. Second only to holding my newborn children in my arms and looking into the eyes of my husband, I know that writing was something I was sent here to do. That's a powerful knowledge to have in my heart and one I am so grateful for.
3) Example to others. This last winter a Friend came to me and shared an award she'd received at work--she said she pecifically told me about it because she knew I wouldn't be jealous and I would fully celebrate it with her. I knew success and I knew the joy of a job well done, therefore I could appreciate it in someone else. This was one of the best compliments I've ever received, and yet other people tell me how they started a book after reading mine, or felt better about taking time to pursue their hobbies after I told them how I try to make it all fit in. I LOVE that. It is inspiring to me to see other people doing those things, and to be one of those people for someone else? Wow. We really are all part of one big whole, each of us feeding off of and giving to one another. The more we develop ourselves the more we have to offer. It is a sense of purpose that is both exciting and humbling to be part of that for other people.
4) Example to my children. While they make sacrifices for my dreams, they also benefit from it. Because they see me working at something, they are not afraid to pursue their own talents and interests. I work hard to support them like they support me and it allows them a base of confidence when they start something new. Each of them have gone through an "I have to be a writer" phase because that's what they see, but they've all realized that just because writing is my thing, doesn't mean it will be theirs. But whatever THEIR thing is, they know that it will take work and energy and that I will cheer them to the very end. They have enjoyed every triumph with me and that has created bonding moments for all of us that will never be forgotten. I think my girls will be great mom's one day because they won't EXPECT their children to fill every nook and cranny of their head. They will feel okay with being who they are, and yet still fulfilling the roles they take on.
5) Public Speaking. When I was about 14 I went to a fireside and this lady talked about . . . something I don't remember, but she made us laugh. And I felt the spirit at the end of her talk and I had this thought "I want to do that someday" which I was immediately embarrassed about. Who was I to think I could stand in front of a group of people and tell them something important? As I grew up this thought would enter my head, and it always embarrassed me. It was so far out of my sphere and ability it was ridiculous. Well, low and behold, I do that. I'm not great and I get queasy when I stand up in front of a room--but I do it and I love it! I'm improving all the time and I like to think that one day I really will give to people what that woman gave to me. I always look over the audience and wonder if there's someone down there embarrassed by the thoughts that they might want to do that too. (See #3)
6) Faith. Faith is something that has never come easy for me, but as I look back on my journey of a writer I know that there is a plan for me, and that there are details that have lined up perfectly for me to arrive where I am. This allows me to look forward and have much more faith in where the journey might take me. I trust that God is out for my best interest--even when I rage at Him (which he always forgives me for). There is no remedy for panic except faith and I'm learning that more and more all the time. My writing has made the gospel much more real for me. I've delved into feelings and attitudes that are not my own, and yet which help me relate to other people better than I did before. I've learned so much about God through my playing 'God' with my characters and going through their trials of faith.
7) Being a partner. Because I am well aware of the sacrifices made by my husband on behalf of my writing, I am always looking for ways to pay him back. I do not have problems with my husband going out of town, or spending time with Friends. It would be hypocritical for me to call him on those things when he sacrifices so much for my interests. Because I know how important 'my stuff' is to me, I try to look for 'his stuff' that needs my support as well. I know many women in a constant tug-of-war with their husbands for time, attention, and equal responsibility. I can honestly say this isn't an issue in our house (well, most of the time :-) I still have my moments). I look for ways to support him so that when I'm on a deadline or am scheduling a weekend away, I don't have to justify it.
I truly believe we were all sent here with gifts. If we choose to open them and embrace them, we will have to find time for them, but they will bless our lives in many ways when we take the time and the effort to do so. Life is not easy, and sometimes our greatest blessings are also our greatest trials, and yet they are BLESSINGS all the same.
I am SO grateful for the amazing support that's been given to me on my journey and I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to return it in full measure to those around me. We ALL have these gifts, and they will help us fulfill our measure of creation--something all of us have. Writing has done that for me, and I will ever be grateful for it.