November 12, 2021

A Writing Path Defined by Brenda Leyland



"In your life's defining moments there are two choices
- you either step forward in faith and power
or you step backward into fear."
James Arthur Ray


As a young woman starting out, I had many plans for my life—becoming a writer was not one of them, not even as a secret wish tucked in a hidden corner. So how did I get on this writing path? Thinking back, it all came about rather quietly, no bolts of lightning, no writing on the wall. But these defining moments weren't passive—they came with a certain tenacity, much like when someone tugs your sleeve until you turn 'round and notice who's vying for your attention.

Perhaps it began with the encouragement from my mom and from an auntie who would say to my mom, 'That Brenda, she should write a book'. As much as I appreciated these kind comments—perhaps I did have a flair for words written in a card or Christmas letter—surely it couldn't mean anything more. No matter, seeds were planted.

Without L.M. Montgomery’s influence, I probably wouldn’t be a writer today. If you’ve followed past posts, you already know the creator of Green Gables figured a key place in my youth, first as a girl loving her beloved characters Anne and Emily, and then later falling in love with the author herself as I delved into her published journals and poetry. Reading her books created a yearning in me—if only I could write as beautifully as she wrote. I loved how she described the world around her.

How was I to know that taking a job in 1982 at the Alberta Legislature in the Premier's Office would put me on a path to writing. Starting as a typist on the team that handled reams of correspondence, I eventually became a correspondence writer preparing thousands of letters for my Boss's signature. As my writing skills developed, so my interest to write increased. I began to imagine a ministry through the art of writing—not only letters but articles, children’s lessons, newsletters, maybe even books. Blogs, at that point, were still misty decades in the future.

I'll not forget the day around 2001 when a verse in Proverbs leapt from the page: "Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25 AMP I felt a weightiness in those lines. For I knew just how life-sustaining it was to get news from afar—standing in the post office line up as a college student, hoping against hope for a letter from home to assuage my homesick heart. Somehow, I felt the words of this verse were entwined with my budding dream to write, that I would one day write from the heart of my home and maybe for homesick hearts. The phrase 'a word from home' kept going around in my head. It seemed a right fit for my ministry of writing. Business cards printed in anticipation were, alas, rarely handed out—too scary to announce I was a writer. Still, another step forward on the path.

Months later I saw the advertisement for a Spring WorDshop mini conference in Calgary and registered for my first ever InScribe event. It was April 2002. Every word keynote speaker Kathleen Gibson shared that weekend about her own writing journey dropped like fresh manna into my heart. Drawn to her writings, I gobbled up her newspaper articles posted on a website, ever hoping I'd learn how to write with such grace and skill.

If there is one defining moment that really pushed me forward, it was the day I created my own blog. People on the web were talking about this thing called blogs. Intrigued, I headed to the library and hauled home any books I could find on the subject. One August day in 2008 I took the plunge and It’s A Beautiful Life was live to the world. Setting myself the challenge to write 100 posts in 100 days, I was on my way to establishing a daily writing habit. The blogging platform was appealing—it gave me immediate access to an online audience. I could write my piece and publish it then and there, no sending it away to wait months for news from some publication. I also loved being able to receive comments from readers as soon as the post was live—an instant connection could be established, the building of community underway. More than thirteen years now, it's still my favourite place to write and be in touch with my readers.

Today I celebrate all that my Divine Editor in Chief gave me when He opened the door and gently pushed me into a world of words—a world I never dreamed was possible for me. Step by step He led me, defining the moments He knew I needed to push me forward…. until one day I believed that I, too, could take my place as a writer for Him.




Inspired by the beauty of God's world around her, Brenda Leyland writes from her home in northerly Alberta, Canada. You can find more on her blog It's A Beautiful Life (beautiful.wordfromhome.com) and Facebook page.



(Top) Image by Petra Boekhoff from Pixabay



18 comments:

  1. how fun to read how you got started writing. My journey began with wanting to capture the histories/life stories of my family and expanded into other books on writing and memories of family then blogging about the same time you started. Still doing it.

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    1. Yes, we 'met' each other through our blogs and I'm so glad we did. It's been a good journey so far. Thanks for stopping in, Lin!

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  2. Dear Brenda, I enjoyed reading how God gently guided you to become a writer for Him. Like you, I also love Anne. It was a pleasure to introduce my daughter to this book series too.
    Yes to this: "If there is one defining moment that really pushed me forward, it was the day I created my own blog."
    Blogging has been a huge gift to so many of us word lovers, the reading of them and the launching of our own. (By the way, your blog is beautiful & I'm going over there for a longer visit when I'm done here.)
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

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    1. Thank you, Wendy! It's so true.... blogging has opened the door--paved a path--for so many potential writers who now make the world a more beautiful place through their writings.

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  3. I would buy your memoir<3

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    1. There's one in the works - your words spur me on. Thanks, Janet!

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  4. What a beautiful story, Brenda. I loved the way you captured the major moments to your writing life in such a fluid and graceful way. I look forward to someday reading your memoir!

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    1. Thank you, Sandi! I always appreciate your affirming words - my heart loves them. As to my memoir, I fear I make far too much use of the pause button to move forward with any pace.

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  5. I'd also buy your memoir, Brenda! I loved hearing the story of your writing journey. You have been an inspiration to me, as well. You were one of the first people I met when I attended to my first InScribe conference and you were so genuine and welcoming. And now we are 'kind of' related through your niece and my great nephew! What a small world!

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    1. Since the line up is getting longer, I best get on it. I remember that first time we met, sitting at the same table and getting to know each other. It was good, and now that we're kinda related, even better. Thanks, Tracy!

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  6. Thanks for such a fascinating post, Brenda. I find memoirs generally interesting. I also hope my 3 memoirs will be interesting to others. Keep up your writing, Brenda!

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    1. Thanks Bruce! Like you, I enjoy memoirs. And I enjoyed reading your Deborah memoir - that bunny she was quite the character. I understand you have, is it, kitties now?

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  7. During our years in Ecuador, that verse in Proverbs came to mean so much to me as I longed for contact with loved ones at home. And I can envision you standing in the post office line at college!
    I wrote reams and reams of letters from Ecuador and Tim's mother saved all of them. I'm in the process of writing a memoir using those letters as reference, along with my journals and memories. It's very rewarding to see God's faithfulness and guidance over the many years.
    I very much enjoyed reading about your start to writing, and I would also love to read your memoir.

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    1. Oh Lorrie, what a treasure to have those letters you sent to Tim's mom while living in Ecuador. Such an enlivening resource - memories popping from envelopes as you relive those times. What a lovely testimonial of His hand on your lives. Best wishes as you work away on your memoir.

      I clicked off the pause button on my own work in progress - I feel a real motivation to work on it again this week. :)

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  8. Thanks for your wonderful post, Brenda. It has created in my mind visions of God’s gentle hand guiding you along a gently winding path. Sounds like your memoir will be much sought after and I look forward to reading it.

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    1. Sharon, I did feel that gentle guidance through the years. It was quite poignant as I looked back to see how it all came about. I'm grateful for His goodness to me. I guess I best get cracking on my own work in process since there's a wee line up happening for it. Makes me giggle inside. :) Thanks so much for your note!

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  9. God knew you would be a writer of beautiful words even though no one else did, save for your auntie maybe. As I read through your defining moments I can see how God was preparing you, schooling you, to write the blog that touches so many and now your memoir. I'm so glad you followed those nudges to where you are today. I await your memoir with anticipation. :)

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