(Originally posted June 22, 2011, Reflections in Hindsight). As you can see, the topics are perhaps outdated (or updated, as the case may be), but the concepts are the same as always.
The world, and the people in it, are suffering from many things, I fear. One of those things is the need to know syndrome. Do we really need to know Maria’s reaction the moment she discovered a hired employee gave birth to Arnold’s son the same week she also delivered his son? Is there any value in knowing when, where and how Bristol lost her virginity? And what reason could there be for the world to hear the heinous autopsy details of little Caylee’s gruesome murder? The fact that I don’t need to use more than first names is very telling, isn’t it? Ah, remember the good old days when it was only the insanely rich and famous celebrities like Cher, Elton and Madonna who could get away with using first names?
Watching the morning news programs, I sometimes find myself asking aloud, “And this is news why?” It’s “hard news” stories (which concept seems debatable at best in today’s media-frenzied world) that make me thankful I’m not a newspaper or media journalist. Increasingly, there’s a fine line between solid news and out-and-out sensational. Recent stories have centered on beauty pageant dads, dolls designed for little girls to “breastfeed,” baby g-strings and preteen padded bikini bras, plastic surgery and diet regimens for the under-10 set, and reality TV moms (teens and mafia wives), dancing C-list stars, and publicity hounds clamoring for their proverbial 15 minutes of fame, hoping it will parlay into a fortune.
Sitting in my college journalism classes, I had grand illusions of becoming a Lois Lane reporter, running with notepad and pen in-hand, jumping into a car at a moment’s notice and chasing to the scene of the latest newsworthy event. It seemed adventurous, daring and romantic with an element of danger thrown into the mix. By the time I graduated, I knew I’d rather be a creative writer. The professors advised all the starry-eyed wannabe writers like me that “if you want to make it in the field of journalism, put aside your grand dreams of writing the next Great American Novel.” We were told the “best you can hope for” is to work for a small-town newspaper or magazine, and “you might even earn enough to not have to work a few shifts at McDonald’s each week.” Discouraging? You bet. Depressing? Sure thing. Daunting? Check. Defeating? Of course not! Realistic or not, cliché or not, I had stars in my eyes. I didn’t want to change the world, but I did want to conquer just a little corner of Dallas and somehow make it my own.
Of course, graduating from college a quarter early, packing up and moving from Indiana to Texas on my own without knowing a single person when I first planted my feet on Lone Star soil was either (a) crazy and (b) independent (but still crazy) and/or (c) incredibly brave for a 22-year-old single woman. I didn’t do myself any favors by having absolutely no connections in the brave new world. I ended up as the receptionist in a publishing company located on the first floor of the World Trade Center in Dallas. Sure, there were perks. Shirley Jones (she of Oklahoma! and Partridge Family fame, not to mention being the stepmother of heartthrob David Cassidy) sang at a gala reception once. When the showrooms opened to the employees, I ran around and found treasures to decorate my apartment (I still have some of them today). Dallas real estate mogul and legend Trammell Crow made regular appearances, blowing past my desk to meet his lunchtime buddy (the publisher of the trade magazine). I eventually worked myself into a position putting together the copy and ads for the brochures given to the buyers attending trade shows. But the job paid such a piddly wage, I got a weekend job at (you guessed it) Mickey D’s. I wasn’t too proud, and even hard-working journalist types have to earn a fair and honest wage any way they can.
I could quite literally write a book about my observations as a young, independent, single working woman in Dallas. Maybe I should, but it would probably only be for my children to read. Lessons on life, people, humility, forgiveness, embarrassment, love, romance, trust, loyalty, and basic human nature. The list is long. Maybe I’ll share more in future blogs as they pertain to the topic-at-hand. But you know what? Every experience, every person I met, every lesson learned, every observation made, helped make me the writer I am today.
Fast forward more years than I care to remember, but I’m now a published creative writer. But I certainly can’t make a living at it without my daytime job to support my “habit” of being a creative writer by night. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I’d much rather create characters in my imagination, and cook up situations, events and dialogue instead of chasing a “real life” story. Interview someone who just lost their home in a natural disaster or who was swindled out of their life savings by a dishonest financial advisor? No thanks. Granted, there are plenty of heartwarming stories, but it seems they are few and far between. Sandwiched among the sensational and the sordid. And I’m the eternal optimist, but sometimes that real life is just too real.
Especially as a Christian writer, I understand the great responsibility and true honor it is to be able to share my words with readers. Before I was published, I had a number of people read my manuscripts and give me honest feedback. The fact that people are willing to read my stories – and now even pay to read them – is still overwhelming and humbling. I want you to remember something very important – even if you’re never published – if you’re a writer in your heart, then you’re a writer. You may have only your family and closest friends read your manuscripts. Or your work might be read by thousands. Doesn’t matter. You write because you love it. For the pure passion, enjoyment and personal satisfaction to be derived from it. Why else would you lose sleep and be willing to suffer the arrows of criticism? Because you can’t not write. If you’re a writer, you’ll understand that sentiment. I’m afraid I suffer from the Sally Field syndrome (wanting everyone to like me, really like me), but that’s yet another blog for another day. I’m not writing for other writers or professional reviewers. I write for an audience of One. If I stay true to Him and write the best story I can, and know in my heart I haven’t grieved my Savior, then I’ve done my job. Let the arrows fly!
When you read one of my books, you’ll find an escape, and hopefully an entertaining one. I think one reason I prefer the “land of make-believe” is because of all the sadness, sordidness and dishonesty in the “real world.” In my writing, I hope to reflect the hope I have in Christ, and the inherent goodness I try to see in most people and situations. Redemption and forgiveness are big themes in my books. Real life has enough heartache. Just ask Maria or Bristol.
Until next time, blessings my friends. Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine!
Originally posted on June 22, 2011 (Reflections in Hindsight)