March 18, 2015

Message In an Ink Bottle by Gloria Guest

Long before I would ever think of myself as a writer, my grade twelve English teacher took it upon herself to decide for me.
To my great annoyance, Mrs. Coy thought it was her duty to convince me to enter a fiction story I had written for her class to a National high school writing contest. Tiny in stature, she made up for it in determination and no amount of hiding out in the crowded hall ways deterred her from hunting me down and lecturing me about entering the contest. Finally I relented and submitted my story… and placed first for Alberta! No one was more shocked than I was and no one was more pleased than Mrs. Coy. Yet it still didn’t register with me that I was a writer. I chalked it up to simple, good fortune.

A few years later I remembered my good fortune and wondered if there was more to it. So I took a writer’s course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. I quickly became frustrated with the instructor wanting me to write to set rules and regulations. My style had always been to just let it flow, often with no knowledge of how the plot would develop or how it was going to end. I did finish the course but wondered if writing really was for me as I didn’t seem to fit the mold.

Years later, in need of a job, I applied for a position as a reporter for the local newspaper. It was with much trepidation that I ventured into the world of writing news reports, meeting tight deadlines and interviewing and reporting on many local, provincial and sometimes national events and leaders. My confidence in myself as a writer and more importantly, a new found love for writing, grew. It was also a time of honing my writing to fit word counts and to write to the precise guidelines of an editor. Going with the flow had to take a back seat to discipline and my editors quick, red pen. During this time I also branched out and began writing life lesson columns for a city newspaper. Eventually we moved to that city and I took a job as a freelance reporter and columnist for the newspaper there, where I covered local and provincial/national news, sports, politics, arts and much more. I had many amazing experiences as a reporter and cherish every last opportunity. Mainly, I cherish the people I met, so different from one another, yet each with a story. I developed my interview skills and learned to read faces and nuances that prompted me to search for deeper clarity. I sharpened my editing skills and by the end of my newspaper days, there weren’t many red marks if any, on my copy.

Since those days I’ve struggled to find a new place for my writing. At times I’ve deeply grieved the loss of having someplace to regularly see my words in print. It reminds me of another time when I was convinced I might never have the opportunity to write again. While out walking in the pasture, I spotted what looked like a chunk of glass embedded in the soil and nudged at it with my foot. To my surprise out popped an antique ink bottle. How had that gotten there? And how did I manage to find it? I  knew right then that God was using a little, unearthed ink bottle to give me my very own message in a bottle. Eureka! I was a writer.

Now, that little bottle sits in my cabinet as a symbol of the moment that I knew I was and always will be, a writer. I look at it often these days while I  hope and search for new opportunities to come my way and pray for the courage to take them when they do.


  1. Great story of how God works with us, answers our doubts with humour and sometimes a little or big prod and object lessons. Keep telling stories-and thank-you. Message in a bottle-love it!

  2. I loved hearing about your journey and the little ink bottle that has become so symbolic!

  3. Anonymous5:39 am GMT-7

    From stepping out in faith and entering a contest to stepping on an ink bottle, you have had an interesting and fruitful writing journey. I look forward to hearing about where God leads you to step next!

  4. Thank you ladies. I always enjoy hearing what someone else has picked up in what I wrote and the encouragement of this group is amazing :)

  5. Love this, Gloria! Yes, you are a writer! Keep pushing that pen!

  6. Gloria, What a lovely symbol for your writing desk...and to be in the right spot at the right time to find that antique bottle. I do love those God moments.

    How I can relate to you trying to fit into a set frame of writing guidelines and themes. Oh yes, me too. Much of my writing starts with a vague idea that forms and splutters and shapes as I write. But I've been learning and growing in that area.

    As I sit here mulling what you've shared, I have a warm feeling that something special is coming down the pike for you... all that you've learned and done so far has been in preparation for a new and greater writing work.

    I wish you His grace as you wait and listen....


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.