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In our college Bible study groups, we picked “life verses.” Due to my severe lack of confidence, Isaiah 30:15 always stood out to me. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”(NKJV)
However, many of us cut off the next four words: “But you would not.” They described those stubborn Israelites, not us. No, we would be faithful. We would believe, whatever life brought.
Well, it’s a few decades later.
Today, someone showed me how to do several tasks on the computer that I'd viewed as virtually impossible. One of them, I’d never even heard of. Now my teacher’s gone home, and it's my turn to follow her step-by-step instructions. All - by - myself.
Yet that little voice representing the non-believing portion of me could almost … I say almost … talk me out of trying. But then I'd never know if I can do it, and that would equal the quintessential hiding my talent under a bushel.
That attitude would also disappoint a VIP in my life—someone who has patiently instructed me for many years—someone who laid down his life for me on a hill outside Jerusalem.
I've made too many but they would not choices like this in the past, so today, I'm choosing to open up the page (first instruction), go to the folder (next), click on the title words, and copy. And then move to the next line.
Step by step. Quietness and confidence. That's how the writing life goes, too, yet it's tough to develop a writing life if you don't believe in yourself. Stories go untold if your faith flails.
Growing confidence may take years, even decades, and I'm a prime example. I remember the first submission I made to an editor, by proxy. When we were in Senegal for missions work, my husband’s college friend sent our family a care package containing a book that changed my life.
One simple sentence struck me: if you have a gift you don't use, you stand to lose it. Ouch! This scared me into contacting the sender, who offered to submit some of my poems to magazines. An editor accepted one, which taught me that people who valued my work did exist. Before, I hadn't been at all sure.
Taking heart, I wrote a couple of short books for current issues classes, had a few more poems published in the next few years, and contributed verses to the Abbey Press gift line and Dayspring Cards. But I was only dabbling in writing.
Then, as a college expository writing instructor who loved cheering others on in their writing, a summer writing retreat assignment set off an avalanche inside me. We sketched the first thing that came to mind from our childhood homes, then wrote about our image.
That assignment jolted me to life. When we moved back to Iowa after my husband’s deployment in Iraq, renovating an old house stirred more and more memories. So many areas paralleled my childhood home, and recording the resulting emotions became a vocation.
Then, I led several groups through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron—so many great quotes, explanations, and activities at the end of each chapter to nurture one’s creativity. That experience birthed my first fiction attempts.
With so many younger authors full of zest and rarin' to go with their careers, sometimes the jealousy bug bites me. I knew during middle school that I needed to write—why couldn't I have embraced my passion earlier?
Then I remind myself, it’s all about the journey … my journey. Patience has never been my strength—standing over a stove stirring slowly thickening jelly isn’t for me. But all of that memoir work needed to precede my fiction writing, and we must get to a certain pain threshold before we attempt memoir work. It takes time for things to jell.
Quietness and confidence...
Vinita Hampton Wright says in The Art of Spiritual Writing, “When a writer takes on the task of exploring the world of the spirit, she has invited a process that will change her permanently. If she has done her work well, it will change her readers, too.”
That’s where the joy comes in. And all those experiences, all those early years need not be classified as wasted. Now, they’re novel fodder, and Dottie Kyle’s story releases soon. Her step-by-step triumph over old fears is very dear to my heart—I hope you’ll take courage from getting to know her!
About the Author, Gail Kittleson:
Our stories are our best gifts, and blooming late has its advantages—the novel fodder never ends. Gail writes from northern Iowa, where she and her husband enjoy gardening and grandchildren. Gail’s memoir, Catching Up With Daylight, paved the way for fiction writing, and she’s so excited to announce the release of her debut women’s fiction novel, In This Together (Wild Rose Press/Vintage Line) on November 18, 2015. Please feel free to contact her—meeting new reading friends is the frosting on her cake!
Excerpt of In This Together:
“Here” turned out to be Almira’s Café. Dottie pushed back her dripping hair. “I must look a sight.”
Al grinned, a raindrop balanced on the tip of his nose. “Me too, but who cares? How about I treat you to a California hamburger? Otherwise, it’s dumplings for the third night in a row.”
“You’re going to go broke, Al Jensen.”
“Nope. Del owes me for a lot of hours at the store. Even though I’ve only been working mornings the past couple of weeks, I rack up the hours. Besides, we’ve got something to celebrate.”
“Del pays you?” She could have sworn Al told her he volunteered at the hardware.
He made a Stan Laurel face. “No, but it sounded good. Del’s still making monthly payments on the store, though, and will be for a good long time.”
He helped her with her coat. “What a sudden storm. Hope it lets up by the time we’re ready to go.” He handed her a menu from behind the chrome napkin holder.
“I meant it. I’m indebted to you. What’s something you would really, really like? Somewhere you’d like to go, maybe?”
The falling star and her wish to see Cora and the children flashed through Dottie’s mind. That scene out in the starry back yard replayed, her hands raised to the heavens and her heart open to surprises. But she tore her eyes away from Al’s to stare at the menu.
Purchase link of In This Together:
About the Book, In This Together:
It’s 1946. Dottie Kyle, an everyday Midwestern woman who lost her only son in the war and her husband soon after, takes a cooking/cleaning job at a local boarding house. But when a new employee is hired, complications arise, and when they niggle Dottie’s “justice meter”, she must decide whether to speak up or not. At the same time, her daughter's pregnancy goes awry and the little California grandchildren she's never met need her desperately. But an old fear blocks her way. When the widower next door shows Dottie unexpected attention, she has no idea he might hold the clue to unlocking her long-held anxieties.