Thursday, November 6, 2014

When Your Dream Comes True

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

My love of literature is part of my earliest memories. As a toddler, I loved to be read to. Before I started kindergarten, I insisted I already knew how to read, when in fact, I had memorized stories read to me.

Once I learned how to write, the urge to create stories soon followed. I made little books of cut up paper with cardboard covers filled with crayoned illustrations and penciled words. I still have one of these books, and it looks as funny as it sounds. J

My mom gave me some old school items a few years back, and among these was a scrapbook from fifth grade that contained a quiz. You know the kind—the teacher says a word and you respond with the first word that pops into your mind. Not surprisingly, many of my responses were about books or writing.

By the time I was a young adult, my desire grew to include becoming a published author, but back in the day with no internet, the publishing world was a mystery. In order to get any information, you went to the library and searched out publishers and addresses and then had to figure out how to query or write manuscripts. It was a long, tedious process! I tucked away my dream while I spent the next twenty years raising kids. Occasionally, I’d write an article and submit it somewhere, only to receive a rejection letter.

Almost ten years ago, after my sister’s death, I couldn’t write. I couldn’t form a sentence. Nothing inspired me. So I turned to another passion—wannabe artist. I bought art books and sketched. It was a cathartic outlet for my creativity, and though it didn’t require any real thinking, my frustration level peaked often.

Then in the summer of 2006, I saw a contest in the local newspaper for a murder mystery serial. Six installments had already been written, and each month, writers could submit the next chapter. I hadn’t read any of the other installments, but I wrote a chapter and submitted it. In a few weeks, I received a call that I had won for that month. I ended up winning the next five months and completed the serial. Next I wrote an op-ed piece on poorly planned urban development that elicited much debate within our community. Many nasty and praiseworthy comments were made about me in the public forum, which gave me a little taste of the thick skin needed to be a writer. Later, I met the newspaper’s publisher at a charity function, and he extended an invitation for me to freelance.

But my real passion has always been fiction. I studied the craft, honed my skills, attended writers’ conferences, joined critique groups, and learned to network. I started getting requests for full manuscripts from proposals I’d sent to publishers, and then in 2011, I signed with an agent, though we’ve recently split.

Although I’ve written three full-length manuscripts, two of which are under review at traditional publishers, I decided to self-publish a smaller Christmas manuscript I wrote in the spring.

“A Christmas Chance” is layered with different themes, the main one the emptiness a woman feels while struggling with infertility. The desire to have children is instilled in women by God, and like Hannah (Samuel's mom) in the Bible, many women would do just about anything to become a mother. Their empty hearts become even bigger during Christmas when other families have children to celebrate with. The main character, Maddie Oliver, is no exception. On the other side are the children who lose parents or are in the foster care or adoption system, and often they don’t get a fair shake from the beginning of life. Maddie and Chance’s story is heartwarming and fictitious, yet the message of God’s hope is very real. He is able to do more than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

So, here I sit, almost five decades since I first fell in love with books. My life took a different path than what I imagined as a youngster. Yet God has been so good to me, strengthening me throughout the process and guiding me to the right time and place to have my first book published (Psalm 136). His timing is always perfect.

The world tends to judge writers by its definition of success. I’m not up there with Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, and my books don’t sit alongside Jan Karon’s or Karen Kingsbury's in the Christian bookstore.

Still, I’m a writer.

Am I a success? Well, I guess that depends on what measurement you’re using. I do know this—my dream has come true.

Thank you for being a part of my journey and my launch of “A Christmas Chance” today. It’s now available on Amazon. Click here to purchase or learn more.

Meanwhile, if you have a prayer request, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to join you in prayer. J

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

“Woman Face” photo courtesy of graur codrin/