Published May 17, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

 Everyone has either been forced into a mold or tried to fit themselves into one at some point in their life. Some of us struggle with it each day, whereas others are more secure and don’t feel the need to conform, though I can guarantee you that they have at least contemplated following the crowd. People also have different creative working styles—some more haphazard than others, though they ultimately reach the same result. I’m an English major who can’t stand outlines. I was always told that to write a proper essay or research paper, you have to master the time-consuming art of writing a good outline. It was absolute torture for me to condense my research into two short pages; I felt like I was demeaning my hard work, not to mention boxing myself in by having to stick to the outline; I didn’t like being boxed in. I did get better at begrudgingly typing up outlines for my essays during my first semester of college, though I still work best if I go backward and write the paper, then fill in the outline, and voilà!—a different writing style.  

Although I’ve never considered myself a very prolific writer, I have always had a plethora (I had to throw in a fancy word!) of stories running rampant in my head that I plan to get to someday. I assumed the amount of story ideas was a positive thing because it meant that I would have plenty to write about when I became an author. However, on the first day of my eighth grade creative writing class, our teacher asked us a very simple question that made me doubt my creative thought.

She looked around at all of her doe-eyed pupils, who were so eager to absorb her every word and take it to heart—or at least I was, since I assumed she would provide sage wisdom that would mold me into the perfect author someday. “Do you ever have a bunch of ideas in your head, so many that you just can’t get to all of them?” she asked. I will admit that I was a little smug; I felt like she was going to applaud me for having so many creative ideas that I would dazzle her with. So you can imagine that I was more than a little disappointed when she said that it wasn’t productive for great authors to have an overflow of story ideas because their minds would be too scattered. I was devastated because that meant I could never be a great author. I couldn’t just stop imaging stories; they were a part of me—my creative thoughts and fantasies that kept me up at night, begging for me to finish the story. I questioned why God would make my mind work in such a way that it kept me from achieving my dreams.

I took my teacher’s words to heart and spent most of the semester with a creative cloud hanging over my head, knowing that my dream of being an author would never happen unless I could change myself and my thought. Then two weeks before the end of class when we received our final writing assignment—the only one we had complete creative control over—I came to the realization that if God had filled me with these stories and this insane desire to share them with the world, then He had a purpose for them. I made a conscious decision not to let a mold of the “perfect” author dictate my future in the writing field. I would keep up with the stories as best I could and then see where they took me. That day I discovered that there isn’t a box or mold large enough to fit everyone into, and the freedom that came with that knowledge has helped me to become more confident in my writing.

Oh, and after I got over my depression, I threw all the creative talent and imagination I could muster into my final story for that class. Back then it was called Bethany Lane, the only story I didn’t throw away after that semester. You will come to know it in the beginning of June as Rising Shadows through Kirkdale Press. Now tell me God doesn’t have a purpose for our lives!

 “To please everybody is impossible. Were I to undertake it, I should probably please nobody.” –George Washington


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