Writing didn’t just happen. My skills had to grow. I had to practice things over and over before I got them right. But before any of this, there was a starting place. That starting place was the vertical, half lined/half blank paper in the picture above.
That piece of paper was a common homeschool tool my mom used as incentive for me. If I did the work I needed to get done, we could write a story and I could illustrate. My mom taught me the beginning, middle, and end of a story. She would write each sentence on a piece of paper and leave the top blank for me to color. As I got older, I wrote the stories myself and got graded on spelling, grammar, and neatness. At that point in my life I was more excited about coloring, but that is where my stories began.
It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I began to pick up the writing again. I had done a lot of working in my life to get me to the point where I felt like I had a story to tell. So I buckled down and wrote it. It was absolutely dreadful. I reread it a few weeks ago and I was horrified. Meanwhile, I was learning a lot through Go Teen Writers which was at the beginning of its life. I was a part of the NextGen Conference that summer and won a critique by Stephanie Morrill, the founder of Go Teen Writers. I honestly don’t know how she made it through that story. I took her notes and comments and learned from them, and I turned my horrendously long short story into a novelette. Then I wrote another, and then another. I realized that they worked better combined, so I put the three into one story and called it a novella. I have also realized that I had no idea what I was doing.
Last summer, I began brainstorming a novel about a little girl who had a book that she wrote down all her questions to Jesus and her mom would find the book and be impacted by it. After months of planning, I had an intertwining story of a young mother and a dying teenager that would have to learn to look for God’s work and be willing to be a part of that work in order to see other people changed. Honestly, I was insane. I don’t know what I was thinking. The plot is so intricate and intentional that it took hours to make sure there weren’t any holes. I’m still editing, but next week, I head to a writers conference with hopes of getting requests for my manuscript.
I have grown a lot as a writer, but more importantly I have grown in my faith. As my faith grows, I can write in such an impacting way. When I asked God to help me write this story, I never expected him to put me through the same emotions that my characters would. He did, and now my story is better than ever before. It all started with that piece of paper.