Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How Four Seconds Changed My Life

How Four Seconds 
Changed My Life 

How God blessed me in 2009 - Part 1

The first full week of the Summer holidays began today. Even though my children finished school last Thursday,  Friday whizzed by with many errands and commitments, followed closely by a weekend of Christmas service rehearsals and performances at church.  The pace didn't really slow down for us until this morning, when the luxury of sleeping in ushered the true meaning of school holidays. No timetables to follow or bells to obey. No lunches to make at 7am, and no school uniforms to iron. Delicious and Bliss. I could add more words but I like those two the best!
Now that we have almost come to the end of another year, it's natural to think ahead to what's 'round the corner. A dear friend was asking me today about my writing goals for next year, and that's coming up in a blog post later this week. But for now I'm looking back with thanksgiving to the steps God guided me to take, so I can stand where I am today.

This time last year, I was reading The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers, one of my favorite writers. Ticking away in my heart, the life long ache to actively pursue my writing dreams, was making noises too loud to ignore. Each page I turned made me want to learn more about the craft of writing.  
Enthralled by Francine's work, I wanted to discover more about her. (I think I secretly wanted to be her.)  I never expected, the four seconds it took me to google her name, would change my life and turn it upside down in the best possible way.
Francine's website is a generous showcase of the author and her work. There are photos and book announcements, as well as Francine's amazing testimony and updates on her life. Like a heat seeking missile, I honed in on the Writing Tips link, where an explosion of information lit up my world. And following Francine's advice, I made a list of recommended books to hunt down,  to get me started.

There was no shortage of Summer reading last year. Armed with library books on writing as well as a speedy package from Amazon I was more then set with beach books and by the time we got back from our holiday, I was itching to get started.
The first thing I did was join my neighborhood writing group. I also joined an online writing community, FaithWriters. Just as my children were starting back at school in February, I began my education in the craft of writing.  I practiced by producing two short stories each week. One as homework for my local class and one as my entry for the FW Writing Challenge. This meant I was writing for an audience, with a given topic, working to a deadline and keeping to a word limit.  I also started receiving positive and constructive feedback.  One of the best encouragements I received was from a fellow writer who wrote, "I was disappointed that this story could only be ...750 words. Would grab a book of this story in a heartbeat, beautiful." I think I cried happy tears that day!
My excitement intensified when I won first place in the Beginners' category and moved up to Intermediate. My husband John wanted to know when he should quit his job and look after the family so I could write full time! (Ha!!)
From Intermediate I stepped up to Advanced, by this stage happily addicted to my online writing competitions and learning so much from the many talented writers I was reading and getting to know through online forums and blogs. 
By April I had my routine set. Housework in the morning, and writing in the afternoon. Each week I worked on my stories and took small steps toward my ultimate goal of writing a novel. Bit by bit, and chuck by chunk, little portions of writing got done. 
Perhaps it's because I like baby steps, and I happen to have married a man who loves to take giant leaps,   I found myself pushed on from the comfortable tip toe routine I enjoyed, to a new and unbelievable place by the man I love the most. By May, thanks to the best birthday present I ever received, (more about that tomorrow) I had moved into a new phase of my writing adventures.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his 
steps. Proverbs 16:9