My writing hasn't extended that far to open doors for me to go on speaking engagements or to put me on book tours from place to place to minister to people through my love of God and skill of writing. When I have no clue how to build up a social network via face book, twitter or any other newly-born technology, it's no use wasting my time in moaning about unopened doors.
Three years ago, I started a writer's group at the suggestion of a dear friend who knew that I was searching to join one. I wouldn't consider our group to be either an affirmation one or a critique one. Because the women in the group are mostly wanna-be writers, they seldom bring manuscripts to be critiqued or affirmed. It's more of a writing class than a typical writer's group.
If not for the writing exercises they do at the meetings or the assignments I at times request them to do at home, they don't do much writing on their own. Work and family commitments give little time for them to sit and write. But when they are made to write, some write so beautifully that I get reluctant to share mine before them.
Sometimes I do get frustrated for doing all the coaxing and seeing little or no outcome. There were times I questioned myself as to why I'm still continuing with what I do. What was I getting out of this writer's group in regard to my own progress? Probably, not much. But at the same time, I cannot forget the friendships I've gained from these seven women who come faithfully every month to meet with other writers.
However, now having completed three years of leading the writer's group, I was thinking of quitting my undertaking this Fall. Then I received an e-mail from one of the women in my writer's group for whom I had sent an e-mail wishing her on her birthday and complimenting her on the assignment she wrote and shared with us at our last meeting. My eyes teared up when I read the last two lines of her e-mail.
It read," You are the reason I keep coming back, your faith in our Lord and in each of us. This is a great calling you are fulfilling in your life, among other things."
How could I ever think of quitting after reading something like this? Kay's words reminded me of another woman, who had penned me something in similar tone thirteen years ago. I've kept her card inside my Bible as a keepsake all these years.
I met Elizabeth at the Read Saskatoon volunteers' meeting. At that time, I had just finished my writing course with Institute of Children's Literature and had published a poem and an article in two magazines. When Elizabeth overheard me telling someone about my writing interests, she approached me to know more about it.
On and off, both of us met at a coffee shop or library to talk about books, faith, health and so on. We would have met five or six times at the most, for soon Elizabeth had to leave for Ontario where her husband had got a new job. On the last day we met, she gave me a huge hug and handed me a lovely card. I've kept her card inside my Bible, so that whenever I get discouraged as a writer, I could find some comfort and encouragement in reading Elizabeth's beautifully handwritten words.
I'll let you read a part of what she wrote so that you can understand why her card has become a favorite keepsake of mine.
" I believe everything happens for a reason! I believe the purpose of me joining "Read Saskatoon" was to meet you...I do not know how far the journey has gone, for we haven't kept in touch with each other after Elizabeth left Saskatoon. But I know for sure, wherever she may be today, she'll still be writing.
You shared with me your love of writing and encouraged me to do the same - I dared to take a bold step of faith ... started to put pen to paper and the words started to spill out like a torrent. I finally found great expression in my writing - My journey has just begun!"
As writers, as well as ambassadors of Christ, we do not know when, where, and how the seeds we sow will take root, put out shoots and bring forth fruits. It need not be our concern either. The world may not recognize the process of sowing or watering as ministry unless there is something for show and tell in the public arena.
As writers, we do thrive on words of encouragement and appreciation. Otherwise, we easily give into self-doubts and discouragement. That's why I've kept Elizabeth's card as a keepsake.
In Oswald Chamber's words, "We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him." (My Utmost for His Highest, June 19)