By Bettie Boswell
My birthday is today and it’s a big one. I’ll be officially diving into the senior category as I turn sixty-five and look forward to retirement from teaching. As an educator of over thirty two years I’ve also learned to be a student, since keeping ahead of the changing tide of education can often be like trying to catch a wave on a beach. Elusive, but the motion draws you to keep trying…
Writing has become an area where I am trying to catch that elusive wave as it beckons me on. I’ve gathered a few precious shells along the way: outlines, nearly finished stories, stories that are finished but not quite polished enough to put out there, along with a winning story or three that pulls me back to write again. As I prepare to jump free of the ebbs and flow of education, I look forward to surfing into the waters of writing full-time.
Up to this point I’ve splashed along the writing shore but the time is nearing to dive joyfully into the deep. But, I’m a teacher and that part of me will not be easily left behind, so today I’ll share a few thoughts I’ve learned in the last few years as I’ve waded into this thing called being an author.
As you work on your manuscripts, write for the joy of seeking that perfect wave unfurling into an amazing story. Be patient with yourself and let the story hidden in your heart flow onto the open beach of a blank paper. Allow your first work to be muddy and filled with rough edges, knowing you can sift the sand and debris out later. Don’t forget to educate yourself along the way so you have the tools to create a well-formed shell. Then fill that form with knowledge of the craft that will polish and refine the story like a beautiful piece of sea glass, worn to perfection.
The people you meet in educational settings (conferences/critique groups) may be the ones who rescue you or help push you and your story to the surface in the publication sea. Get to know those paddling nearby and support each other. Write for God’s glory and not your own as you swim across the expanse. Accept that your story may only be a life saver to someone you love when you share a manuscript that never finds a publisher. Go with the flow of giving and taking criticism that smooths out the broken parts of your story.
Pick up small shells when they come your way. Write for your church or put positive thoughts into the social media sea. Get your feet wet by writing magazine articles. Once you have a message to share, don’t be afraid to bottle it up, email it out, or put your hook into the waters. The fish may or may not bite, but realize that you have accomplished something by completing and throwing out your line.
Then one day on a distant shore you’ll celebrate a book birthday. It may be a family shared manuscript or a nationally published book, but when it is finished you will feel buoyed above all that you have gone through. Know that you are still one person in a vast ocean and be humbled by the awe of finishing and do your best to lift up your fellow authors as they surf nearby. Don’t sink into the doubts of imposter syndrome. Instead praise the Lord for helping you find your own buried treasure, your book.
May you create your own treasure soon!
Bettie Boswell is a minister’s wife and now a published author. Her novel, On Cue, was released November 1, 2020 by Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Mt. Zion Ridge Press also published her short story “Fred’s Gift” in their anthology, “From the Lake to the River.”