by Harriet E. Michael
When I thought about this topic, so many things came to my mind. So much has happened in the last 10 years, nationally, internationally, with friends, with my family, and with me. It was hard to decide what to write about. I chose the single biggest change in my personal life that has occurred in the last 10 years.
10 years ago, I was not a published writer!
Writing is a new work God is doing in my old age. It’s a huge blessing to me and I can only hope it blesses others too. I thank Him daily for opening these doors, even though as is often the case, it was born out of adversity—from a difficult and even dark time in my life that started in the summer of 2003.
By 2009, I had an unpublished manuscript written on the topic of prayer. This is what later became my book, “Prayer: It’s Not About You” which started out four years earlier as a journaling exercise as I sought to learn more about prayer. Interested in writing, I attended the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference, hoping to learn how to get a manuscript published. I came home thinking that goal was not achievable, unless I self-published but I had learned three things: 1) I knew very little about the publishing world, even after the conference, 2) I have editing issues. 3) I didn’t have a platform.
I now know that a writer can pay an editor, and hire out other parts of the publishing process and turn out a good independently-published book. But at the time, getting a book out seemed impossible.
Writing still intrigued me. Actually, it did more than that; it pulled like a magnet. I had words I wanted to share and had spent the previous four years honing my ability to put them down on paper. (Learning to write on a computer came later. My 60,000+ word manuscript and my first few articles and devotions were all hand-written and transcribed onto a computer.)
The wheels started turning in my head. If I could start getting small pieces published, then I would be scratching that writing itch while building an income and a platform. So, I sat at my kitchen table one day, shortly after returning from the writer’s conference, sharing my thoughts with my daughter. I sheepishly told her about the great workshop on how to freelance small pieces and confessed my desire to try my hand at it. But who did I think I was fooling? I was not a writer.
My daughter looked up from her orange juice and said profound words that jump-started my writing career. She said, “You know mom, the average American reader only reads at a sixth-grade level.”
I burst out laughing and replied, “I can write at that level!”
And I sat down immediately and began transcribing a devotion I had handwritten in my journal onto my computer to send to The Upper Room. That devotion, titled, “The Day of Small Things” based on the question posed in Zechariah 4:10, “For who has despised the day of small things?” became the first piece I ever submitted. It was not the first piece I ever had published, because it takes a very long time from submission to publication with some devotional magazines. It was published a year and a half later in the February 2011.
Today I have somewhere around 200 small pieces published in magazines, devotionals, anthologies (more if you count each individual devotion separately). The places I have been published as a freelance writer include: Chicken Soup for the Soul, several Lifeway magazines and their devotional, Open Windows, several David C. Cook and Standard Publishing magazines, The War Cry, Upper Room, The Secret Place (just to name a few).
Now I also have three books published, both independently and traditionally, two more under contract to be released this winter and next summer, and others at different stages of publication.
And, to think that 10 years ago, I was not a writer. Today, I cannot imagine not writing! I think I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.
Writing Prompt: Ben highlighted, then deleted every word of the story he’d spent two hours creating. Now what?