Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Monday, June 24, 2013

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer. Once upon a time I walked to the library across town and checked out four Nancy Drew mysteries and read them in one day. Once upon a time I took every writing course my college had to offer. Once upon a time I fell in love with teaching and put my writing dreams on the back burner.

For twenty years.

Then in 1993 I was teaching seventh grade reading as a full-time sub while the regular teacher was on sabbatical leave. One day the junior high librarian knocked at my door and asked me if I wanted a stack of newspapers. I'd have enough copies of the daily local newspaper for the entire class for at least a week. I'd wanted to teach a unit on reading the newspaper. I pored through sixteen filing cabinet drawers, but couldn't find any teaching material. I checked the curriculum catalogs to no avail.

So I decided to write one myself. Teaching the Newspaper, written on a Brother word processor, was my first venture into self-publishing. A local newspaper bought it to use with their Newspaper in Education program. Homeschooling parents found it easy to use and practical.

On the heels of writing the newspaper curriculum came a flood of story ideas, which I'd scribble on scraps of paper and stuff into a file folder. Then I read about the Guideposts Writers Workshop Contest. I didn't make the cut, but the story I entered was published in the September 1995 issue as "Wisdom from an Old Refrigerator."

When I told my Aunt Betty, my godmother who knew me better than I knew myself and understood me better than my own mother, that I was getting back into writing, she said, "It's about time."

And so the journey began. Or should I say, re-began.

I'm a writer.

Writers write.

Writers read.

Writers learn the craft and hone their skills.

My summer reading stack (if you can call e-books on your Kindle or in your cloud a stack) includes Debbie Macomber's Once Upon a Time. 

Everyone has a story. Even me. Even you. And we can write it--for inspiration, for material for our own fiction, for posterity.

Here's an excerpt from her webpage that describes the book:

"With chapters that cover the importance of characters, setting, backstory, and conflict, Macomber uses the elements of a story to show how to understand our own lives better. Each chapter has a storytelling prompt—a searching question that will help frame your story—and a sidebar that pulls an idea out of the chapter and expands it with practical tips. Once Upon a Time shares Debbie’s love of story and helps showcase the big picture of the story God is writing through us."

I'm loving the storytelling prompts. The prompt for chapter one: 

What is your “in the beginning story” as told to you by family? What is your own earliest memory?

I opened a file on my desktop,labeled it OUAT journal prompts, opened a new WORD document, and began writing about my maternal grandmother, who immigrated from Europe in 1910.

Writing is rarely easy. Even when writing my own story. But I find the more I write, the better the words flow, and the easier it becomes. NOTE: It doesn't become easy, but easier

If you're looking for a good read and a practical book on the craft of writing, one with do-able exercises, get Debbie's book, Once Upon a Time. It's available in hard copy and as an ebook.

Now, on to write the chapter two prompt . . . 

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