In my twenties and thirties, I was restless and curious. Excitement and adventures beckoned me; sky diving; horseback riding; sailing a 33 foot houseboat through a storm; driving a large school bus on busy multi-lane highways and maneuvering it through congested downtown streets of Toronto and Ottawa, attending college in my thirties as a full-time student in order to change careers; etc. In 1986, in my thirty-third year, I saw a printed advertisement which read “take this test and see if you have the potential to become a writer”. Bingo! That’s it! Now that sounded exciting and romantic! Dollar signs floated before my eyes as I envisioned hordes of fans following me everywhere with cameras flashing.
I wrote the test. Guess what? I had potential! What a surprise! The school was interested in teaching me or maybe it was just my money that interested them (I thought at the time). I did learn quite a bit from that correspondence course and later I met and heard of others who had taken the same course. They also had gained knowledge of writing and had gone on to publication. The school was legitimate. It actually did exist (and still does) and helped many people become writers. That school was the Institute of Children’s Literature, West Redding, Connecticut, U.S.A.
William Wagner was my teacher. I was never afraid to receive his critiques because he was always fair. He circled both the weak and strong areas on my assignments and provided comments about both. Along with the marked homework, he’d include a letter in which he’d explain why certain sentences or ideas were weak and gave suggestions how to strengthen them. His critiques were not harsh but encouraging which gave me the determination to complete the course. I carefully read his instructions and did my best to improve. And improve I did. Thanks Mr. Wagner!
When I completed the course, I continued learning. I attended workshops, read books about writing, and joined writing groups. I took courses to learn how to write articles and devotionals. Then one day, I had a piece of work published and later worked as a freelance writer for a magazine.
Who knew I had potential to become a writer and generate a little money with that talent? And I’ve been on the run. No, I haven’t been running from hordes of fans chasing me with flashing cameras. I’ve been running after writers; to buy their books, get their autographs, and take photographs of them standing beside me. This has turned out to be a pathway to adventure; better than skydiving.
We don’t know what we can do until we try. And it certainly helps to have someone coach and encourage us.