How Childhood Writing Success Influenced This Writer's Aspirations

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Some years ago, there was an elementary school girl who made a decision. She decided she wanted to go to one of the long ranking top three high schools in her community. This tender headed kinky haired girl with brown skin only knew what she had heard about the school and all it had to offer. It was not considered a goal, just something she wanted to do. When the time came to apply in the eighth grade, the little girl marked her first, second and third choices on the application and took the test. She was accepted and attended the school she declared she would years earlier. Mission accomplished.

     That same little girl had a yearning to write poetry and make up stories in her mind that she would write down. Writing poetry was fun. Making up stories was how she entertained herself when she was bored. She enjoyed writing so she did it whenever possible. She never viewed it as an assignment and she was often surprised at how others would respond to the pieces she wrote. When teachers would suggest writing projects, she simply thought of it as the fun part of going to school. Writing was a part of being a student and all the kids were into it, well most of the ones in her class. She decided to do it for the creative fun of playing with words. Continuing to do it during her personal time was a decision she made because it was something she wanted to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Unbeknownst to this little girl, the world around her viewed her as a writer.

     That little girl was me. I am grown now, more experienced and more mindful of the work required to reach goals. As a child, I followed the order of things when it came to getting what I wanted. As an adult, I understand that I need to be more strategic and intentional about setting and obtaining goals. Writing as a vocation is one of those goals for which I am mapping out a strategy. I’ve always been a creative writer. I was published as a child as a part of a community writing program. I even participated in journalism programs. But back then I did not fully understand what it meant to be a writer for vocation. Still, I considered myself a creative writer and a successful one because people were inspired by what I wrote. That meant something to me. It made me feel as if people were responding to a light that shined through my writing creations.

     But somewhere between the late high school and college years, writing for vocation lost its appeal. I realized I did not handle writing on demand very well. My creativity seemed to be stifled when I was required to write. However, when I put words to paper by choice, inspiration or divine providence, the result was motivating, provocative and impactful. Currently, after years of doing everything except writing to earn a living, I am reconsidering writing as a vocation. I never stopped creative writing and recent technological advances have shed light on new ways to earn a living doing the kind of writing I enjoy. The question is, what does that look like and how do I measure my success?

     I set a goal to write a book. I had two ideas that led to this particular goal. One was an idea God put on my heart to tell a story of Biblical principles. The other was to write a living testimony to close out a season of life before I move on to whatever else God has planned for me. The books would serve as a tangible foundation for my long-term writing goals. I decided to self-publish. This seemed like the best option for me right now. Since I march to the beat of my own drum, I have to allow room to accommodate my health issues that have a tendency to throw a wrench in my plans sometimes. 

     With this in mind, I measure my success on a flat tri-phase scale: 1-I accomplish any step on the list of items necessary to reach the goal. 2-I overcome any fears that try to hold me back. 3-I strengthen any weaknesses or build on my strengths. This may seem shallow to someone with profound experience. For a person like me who struggles with anxiety, it is a functional plan that allows flexibility and room for unexpected hiccups. Landing on any one of these phases puts me closer to my project goal.

     Prime example: I needed to learn what self-publishing consisted of so I could figure out what tools and skills were required. So, I came up with the idea to do a trial book. This would allow me to work out the kinks of the process so my creativity would not be crushed under the weight of getting the content to print. I used posts from my first blog as my guinea pig and guess what? A Heathen’s Calling will be published by the end of the month. I’m just waiting on the proof to arrive for final review.

     I conquered the fear of the process itself – success. I learned how to format the content – success. I learned how to design a cover – success. I acquired new skills that I can improve on going forward – success. I learned what needs to be done to make the books on my goal list the products I originally envisioned – success. Doing this trial run presented me with a revised strategy and eliminated some obstacles that would have been a definite setback had I not practiced first. I will make A Heathen’s Calling available for sale to learn that part of the process, but I’ll primarily give it away as gifts. Any money I make will be an extra blessing.

     I consider myself a successful self-published author already even though I’m still working on the vision. Here’s why. God promised to be with me every step of the way. God gave me the courage to conquer my fears and face the unknown. That was half the battle. Once I started the process, I grew in my capabilities, learned new skills and received amazing inspiration. Now I have a product to show for my efforts and an item to mark my starting point. I can only improve with each new creation.

     I’m excited about completing the books of my vision. I am motivated to be diligent in my pursuit. My success has already been claimed and I’ll celebrate by sharing my creation with those I love and the world. It may not be perfect but it’s mine. I created it with God’s help and encouragement from other writers who said to write your heart out. I am on my way to doing what I enjoy and have been called to do as a vocation. I have faith that God will guide me through each step and provide everything I need along the way. I made a decision to be committed and a decision that I am successful because I will not give up. I am a successful writer because my writing is worship and encourages others. You can be a successful writer too. Just have a little faith, patience, ambition, and diligence. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow room for mistakes and celebrate every fear conquered, step completed and product created. Remember what 1 Corinthians 2:9 says; “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Stay in touch with Dena Rodgers and purchase her new book!

New Book: A Heathen's Calling 

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