March 10, 2015

Eureka Moments by Sharon Espeseth

Maybe I became a writer when my story, "The Man Who Loved Auctions," was published. Maybe it was when I gave Dad the small Western People magazine. Or it may have been when Mom phoned to say, "Dad knows this story is about him or that you wrote it. He carries the story around with him. He unfolds and folds it and then puts it in his pocket." My gift of writing had connected with him in his advanced state of Alzheimer's. I only wished I had written it sooner.

Of course, my family, friends, and relatives, especially my parents, could be prejudiced about my writing. Did I mention I got paid for this story?

Then there was Janice, a business owner in our small town, who grabbed me and hugged me enthusiastically on Main Street. She was excited because I had a story published in the Edmonton
Bear Hug on Main Street
about how great it is to live in a small town, especially one like ours. "As soon as I read it," she said, "I ran down to John's Men's Wear to let him read it."

I had taught three of Janice's kids, so that's pretty close to home, but the Edmonton Journal paid
for their columns in those days.

I kept on writing in my dog-eared, coffee-stained notebooks. My words weren't yet worthy of acid-free ink or acid-free journals. Big, thick notebooks, aka scribblers, were filling up with recipes, to-do lists, garden diagrams, anecdotes of our genius children, shopping lists, and the occasional thought. Did I mention prayers? Time to write was in those prayers. Life had its stumbling blocks, and I wrote about them too.

My sister held the burn-them-when-I'm-gone order. Heaven forbid that anyone should know what actually went on in my head.

My story, "A Holy Night to Remember" was published in Chicken Soup for The Canadian Soul. This  seemed like another step toward becoming a writer. Congratulation calls and letters ensued. I too was excited about that and the fact that I also got paid for the story.

I didn't quit my day job.

To believe in myself as a writer in those days, I needed reassurance that I did have something to say and that I could say it well enough to resonate with readers beyond the concentric circles that cradled me. I needed God's help on this one. Sure enough, I started receiving phone call or letters from people I knew, even from people I didn't know, telling me how I had connected with them.

That was the sign I needed to know I was a writer. Eureka!

Fortunately, my "fan mail" still fit in our mailbox and I didn't need a secretary. My head didn't swell beyond recognition,  but I came to realize these unexpected contacts as a sign that my "messages in a bottle" could bring joy, hope, comfort, peace, or anything else God put in my heart to others. God  has said that his word will not return to him empty.

Some of the places my writing has appeared
I may never know how my words have affected my readers, nor do I need to know. I do, nevertheless know how my writing has affected me. My writing has given me solace and comfort when I am discouraged. It has helped me regain and maintain my mental stability after clinical depression. My writing has helped me see the beauty, love, joy, and humour I encounter on a daily basis. Writing has helped me see who God is and how he loves me. It has helped me know and love myself as well as my neighbour.

I pray that through my writing, I will influence my small part of the world to be a more tolerant, loving, and peaceful place.
G. K. Chesterton says, "Our confidence lies in our message and not in ourselves." Eureka!


  1. Your story unfolds beautifully, just like the line about your dad, "folding and unfolding' the article you wrote about him. I had so many favourite lines from this post, but this one really stood out: I may never know how my words have affected my readers, nor do I need to know. I do, nevertheless know how my writing has affected me.

  2. And my favourite line... "That was the sign I needed to know I was a writer. Eureka!" But I could also relate - to getting paid for an article in the Edmonton Journal (my gosh, girl, it's been decades since they did that, hasn't it?), to writing being the ramp up out of clinical depression, to the knowledge that touching another with our story is the true reason behind writing. Amen to that. Very well crafted, Sharon!

  3. I like your prayer. That should be the prayer of all Christian writers. Simple but beautiful. And a great Chesterton quote. He's one of my faves!

  4. Enjoyed reading your story, Sharon; now I will have to read 'A Holy Night to Remember'!

  5. Thank you, friends, for your inspiring remarks. Encouragement inspires us to keep writing or to write more. As InScribe members, we are fortunate to get feedback positive or "critique-like." Feedback helps us grow and know we are read. Susan, if you google "A Holy Night to Remember" by Sharon Espeseth, you will come to the story in Western Catholic Reporter. One of my Women Word Weaver colleagues told me the other day, "You got a lot of mileage out of that story." And, yes, I did.

  6. It's amazing how what we write for our own benefit, god uses in turn to encourage others in their distress. It's a reminder that we all suffer from the same sickness, and all need to hear those words by which you and others are able to express your own pain in such clarity.


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