Something to chew on: @katjanzanderson #amwriting #novel

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The constant editor: October 1, 2014


Here’s where I’m supposed to talk about myself. It doesn’t feel right at first, but then I recall afac400b1864f10e6e3e838f106deb43how I love to learn more about authors after I read their books, and lets face it, I’ve already put myself out there by writing my own. Real-life stories are my favorite, and so as I take a big swallow, here goes, a little of my own.

I grew up in a large family, number six out of nine children, and I always felt lost in the crowd; it’s been said the middle one often feels as if they don’t fit in. I was so shy starting first grade my teacher sent me home to start the next year. I came back the following year, still shy, but this time I found a wonderful friend who invited me to her home where I always felt special. After graduation I worked as a motel maid, a waitress, in a flower shop, fish factory, and a number of other jobs, but it wasn’t until I worked at a hospital as a nurses aide that I really came out of my shell. It got intimate fairly fast, and would have been nearly impossible not to have conversations with the patients and their families. They were normally grateful for the care, although I recall one time there was a particularly difficult patient. That didn’t happen much, but it can when they’re under stress and on drugs. I had to do something, fast, really fast because I had know idea what to do with his hostility or even why he was upset, so I prayed that God would give me love for this person. He did. I couldn’t have done it on my own. This was a lesson I’ve taken to heart on many occasions otherwise I probably won’t have made it through certain periods in my life.

I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be a writer the way many writers do. My seven year-old granddaughter showed me her diary/journal the other day with pictures and all. Now that girl has a natural talent. For me it came as more of a need, I think.

At thirteen, I decided it was time to prepare myself for a career, a purpose in life… a calling. Let me just say first that the thought of going to Africa as a missionary was something I’d thought of many a time until about thirteen. The inspiration was a wonderful missionary named Elsie Peters. I never went to Africa, but to this day, her impact has never left me, and the ‘calling’ whatever that means still burns inside. As in “The Minister’s Daughter” ( a novel that will come out…some day) that was a big influence.  My place may not be on the shores of a foreign country, but I so admire anyone who sacrifices their life in such ways, and I’m inspired by those who may not even leave their towns but go directly into the trenches to answer their calling.

Whether or not I’ve answered any sort of calling even now, back then as I was discovering what becoming a teen meant with those growing pains of youth urging me in different directions, I began to search for something I could do, well. I shot a fair game of basketball, but I wanted more. There were three things standing in my way; ONE, I didn’t know what I wanted to do; TWO, there wasn’t money for lessons like piano, or guitar: THREE , I wasn’t really good at anything. Still, I had enough sense to know if I put myself into a project, eventually I’d be good at something, and maybe even better than good. This thought drove me onward, and I searched for something that would give me inspiration.

Not a soul knew what I was up to as I checked around the yard for a stick that I could use as a baton. With some effort, I found the perfect one. I can just imagine Mom watching me through the kitchen window as I twirled at my hearts content. Practice did some good, as I thought it would, and eventually I caught a few of my baton throws. Still, that lasted no more than a week or two. Even at the tender young age of thirteen, I knew the baton would only take me so far. Besides, I’d need a real one to move forward.

Next, I cranked up the music in the living room and started dancing around the room. That went better than the baton. My enthusiasm was there, I felt the beat, I wanted more. Although the living room was much too small for such things I learned when I knocked over a lamp during a difficult turn. That dream didn’t die altogether, but that’s a story for another time.

Then one Saturday morning after some soul searching, I cleaned my bedroom, pulled out a notebook, sat on my bed and wrote a story. I remember the thrill of creating something that came from within. How I wish I could see it now. Where it went I can’t say. When you have five brothers and sisters still at home, without a door to your bedroom, things get misplaced. I had a diary for awhile but the contents were intercepted and the embarrassment of someone reading my very personal thoughts promptly ended anymore entries.

Years later during a difficult time in my life, I purchased a guitar and started writing songs as a way to help me get through the long winter nights in North Dakota. That too is a story for another time, although I draw from that experience in my writings. Then one day as I sat at my computer I began to write poems and stories and then a novel. It started as An Empty Forest which took 2nd place in a contest, then I changed the name to A Song From An Empty Forest, and eventually it became SEPTEMBER WIND.

What this thirteen year-old found that Saturday morning up in her room was something we all have, a voice inside that urges us to press on. The best we can do is to put our hearts and souls into what drives us, and then let it go.