“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11
When asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, most eight year olds generally respond with something along the lines of firemen, artist, or astronaut. Sometimes adults even receive an amusing mix of these responses, such as, “I want to paint donkeys in space!” when the child means that they literally want to travel to the stratosphere to paint pack mules and not just depict the unnatural scene on a piece of paper or canvas. In all honesty, I was the only kid in the group of homeschoolers who didn’t have an answer to this question. It wasn’t because I was unsure what I wanted to be when I was older, but I was simply terrified to voice it, so I responded that I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was afraid that people would think my dream was unimaginative compared to painting strange animals in a space suit whilst putting out fires. But I have always known what I wanted my “grown up” job to be:
Just the word sounded magical to me! Writing has been such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Countless journals have covered my bed and floor since I was eight years old, and I have spent an incredible number of hours bent over those pages, scribbling furiously, recording my feverish thoughts as they raced through my head. I would fill every line of my journals as fast as I could before my train of creative thoughts derailed in a pathetically abrupt crash. But I didn’t write about what most girls my age would have. I refused to cover those pages with my feelings or my opinion on events that had taken place, or even put hearts around the name of the boy down the street whom I had a crush on. These things that seem so important to most young girls felt perfectly meaningless to me. I didn’t want to write about myself or boring happenings because I didn’t think anyone would want to read about that (clearly, I didn’t understand the concept of a journal being a secret). Instead, I wanted to write about something meaningful and interesting that would entertain me and my readers. So, I put my effort into covering those pages with stories of adventures and perilous plots, of damsels and the dashing hero who comes to her rescue, and always of men and women who overcame and discovered their inner bravery. Somehow seeing normal characters find the courage to fight and overcome great peril gave me courage to fight in my own life; it was always easier for me to solve whatever problems the world presented if I could write them down.
Though I loved writing and storytelling, I never really believed my words meant anything, or at least enough to actually share them with someone. I thought they were just a simple form of entertainment and a way to vent my emotions; most of the stories would end up torn from my journal and thrown away as soon as they were completed. My family wasn’t even aware of my infatuation with writing until I was thirteen and had run out of age-appropriate reading material. I had just finished the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn and was so desperate for another story that I began to write my own mystery series to satiate my thirst for fiction. From that point on, writing became so much more than just a way to entertain myself; it evolved into this crazed desire to create unforgettable characters that made me giggle and groan, laugh and cry, and turn pages frantically to see the conflict resolved. This passion was driven by the ever-growing number of stories that congested my mind at the slightest encouragement, generally a name or sight that inspired a character or story, and I had to give them a voice before the next adventure claimed my attention. Maybe these stories meant something, maybe they didn’t. It wasn’t until years later that I began to wonder if God had filled me with this overwhelming love of words and stories for a reason, and it would take even longer to discover that He had a purpose for them all along.
It’s true that life seems so more much exciting when you write it down as fantasy. But then again, there are some experiences in life that are simply too wondrous to be condensed into words. These are the things that must be felt.
The rest I will attempt to convey with the written word.
“I want to do something splendid, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead . . . I think I shall write books.”
–Louisa May Alcott