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.