I didn't have the dream to become a writer in my childhood days. I actually never saw myself as a being skilled enough to become writer because my 10th grade English teacher made it clear that my writing skills were not up to par. Her comments were a thorn in my side for many years including recent ones.
Side note: Be careful of the words that you speak into other people's lives. They carry more weight than you might know.
It was exactly ten years ago when the desire to write was ignited inside of me. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was taking an undergraduate creative writing class. We wrote memoirs, plays, and sonnets. This type of writing I enjoyed because the stories came from within me, and they were a part of me. I didn't realize I had stories until that class. It was like a lid was taken off all of the thoughts I held within me. I felt free to share the words on paper that I dared not speak because of the fear of being misunderstood.
My blog, which was formerly named A Little This ... A Little That, manifested after I completed my degree. I started writing, but I couldn't ever call myself a writer. See, I saw writers such as Denene Millner who runs My Brown Baby and is a New York Times bestselling author or Newbery Medalist Jacqueline Woodson whose words often leave me pondering and reflecting on life. The bar I set for writing was so high. I believed that these women became highly esteemed writers overnight while in reality they, too, had to work at their craft.
Thankfully, the Father already knew this bit of information; He met where I was. He listened to desires of my heart-- better yet, He placed the desires there that I refused to embrace. As a friend reminded me a few weeks ago, "We need not be ready... only willing, my friend!" After I shared with her that I didn't believe I was ready for my first commissioned piece from a large publication, Focus on the Family, which will be in print and online in February 2017. Her words were a reminder that I definitely needed. I live with my hands open. Open to give and open to receive whatever He chooses. I am often afraid, but He meets me and guides me and disciplines me along the way.
See, I have been afraid to share that I really enjoy writing. It is a happy place for me. I have been afraid to share that I want to read my words in other places outside of Joy in the Ordinary. I have been afraid to say that my stories matter. Although I have been afraid to share it aloud, He knew. He has always known.
My experience with Focus on the Family was challenging in a growing me up kind of way. There was a bit of tugging because of my lack of faith in myself and in my stories. I feared that I wasn't going to be good enough and that maybe just maybe they emailed the wrong person. It's that kind of talk that keeps many of us from living out His divine purpose in our lives.
What I've learned on this journey thus far is:
- Fear has two roles. It can motivate or discourage. My fear often drives me to keep pushing through. I'm often amazed by what I usually find on the other side of fear.
- Obedience is key. Opportunities come at their appointed time, but before I ever receive opportunities like writing for Focus on the Family or receiving a full sponsorship to a blogging conference from Notgrass Company I am often called to be obedient in other things first. The editor from Focus on the Family contacted me because of my blog. I am not certain if she would have found me if I would not have made the changes I felt led to make a few months ago. I contacted the Notgrass Company after an internal prompting which I fought for a few months before sending the email that ultimately turned into a yes. Obedience is the first step in accomplishing anything we desire to do.
- Dreams take time to develop. I always saw writing something book authors did, and not what I do. When I first felt the nudge to write, I wanted to be a children's author because I love reading children and young adult titles. As I have matured so have my dreams. I am more flexible in my path. Just the same way I love reading books from those genres, I have a heart to write in the now. I like writing about the things I see daily, my faith, and encouraging parents. I have a different perspective that is in line with my dreams. I still am not Denene or Jacqueline, and I will never be because I am Latonya.
- Follow His lead. Our dreams are a gift from the Father. I can't help but to believe that He wants the dreams that He has placed inside us to come to fruition. If this is the case, I can't help but to believe that He will lead us into the places where our dreams can thrive and come to life, and He will help us come into contact with the people to make those dreams and desires come true.
- Don't be a loner. Hard days come when you are working through something new. I am so grateful that my husband and daughters are some of my top cheerleaders. They encourage me when I become afraid or outright crazy acting. I am grateful for extended family members and friends who don't mind listening to the good and the not so good. I know that the Spirit is with me, but it feels good to know that He has also provided with people who continue to pour His word over me.
I may be ten years into realizing my dream yet this is only the beginning. I can't wait to see all there is to come.