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50 Great Writers You Should be Reading 2016 Contest.
Below is the article I wrote that won me a top spot.
My love for writing began with a homework assignment in third grade. The teacher asked us to write a short story. Fifty-plus years later, on occasion, I’ll pull the old, faded, handwritten story out from underneath my bed and read it. I still remember writing the words.
In fourth grade, I wrote poetry.
In fifth grade, my teacher accused me of plagiarism in front of the class. My father went to the school and talked to her. He never once questioned my integrity.
By the time I was in ninth grade, I had written two unfinished books. Yeah—I didn’t know how to finish them.
When I was thirteen, my parents gave me a guitar for Christmas. The next few years my writing waned as classical guitar took up most of my time. I loved the attention and self-worth it brought me as I performed at many major events.
When I went to the University of Georgia my freshman year, I rediscovered my love for writing. Since I grew up in a family business, however, English wasn’t on the list of “qualifying” majors; maybe physical therapy or business administration, but not English. No starving authors were allowed in the Roberts’ family.
Then, as often happens, I fell in love.
I hit a crossroads. What was I going to do with the rest of my life? In a moment of insanity, I threw my college degree out the window, and at my parent’s urging, agreed to go to court reporting school. My future husband promised someday I could go back to college.
As a court reporter, I was writing, if you can count thousands of pages of depositions writing. I imagined how many books that would be, and I longed to write something different.
When my husband finished medical school, we moved to Gainesville, Florida, where he began his residency in radiation oncology. I enrolled in college and earned my two-year degree towards a bachelor’s in journalism. I took my first creative writing class, and my writing appetite was whet once more.
My life changed forever when tragedy struck. I discovered my husband was having an affair and had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. Not only was I devastated because I loved him, but I had sacrificed a lot for his career. My dreams were just beginning to be fulfilled, although my inability to get pregnant caused me great depression. My hopes of becoming a mother, earning my college degree, and writing books evaporated overnight.
I cried oceans of tears and didn’t want to live anymore, but God heard my desperate wails. I sought counseling, began to read the Bible, got involved in a local church, and started attending a prayer group. Most importantly, I recommitted my life to Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the hardest part was accepting God’s will. I had to go back to work as a court reporter since that was the only skill I had. I had dreamed of so much more.
While it took some time, God gave me new dreams and better opportunities. I obtained that elusive college degree, and in the process, did quite a bit of traveling that included studying in England, Israel, Italy, and Australia. On a whim, I got certified as a scuba diver and made over a hundred dives around the world.
However, my longing to be a mother remained unfulfilled for eight more years. Then, on May 8, 1994, on Mother’s Day, I arrived home with a three-year-old Nepali girl. Five years later, over Christmas, I adopted an infant girl from Vietnam.
Manisha a couple of months after arrival.
Joy in Vietnam When I Adopted her
Reading picture books to my daughters unexpectedly rekindled my love for books and writing. We made frequent trips to the library, and I would come home with armfuls of books. We read hundreds of books together, even into their teens—one of the best things about homeschooling.
Not surprisingly, the first book I wrote was a children’s picture book, The Donkey and the King. When I finished it, God told me something I didn’t expect. He wanted me to wait until my children were older before I wrote more books. My passion for writing was all consuming. As a single mother, my daughters needed me when I wasn’t working—now as a broadcast captioner.
I waited four years to write my memoir Children of Dreams. I was afraid if I waited any longer, I would forget my daughters’ adoption stories. I wanted them to know how God had brought us together as a forever family.
After writing Children of Dreams, my passion for writing grew. However, I only knew how to write picture books and nonfiction. How could I learn to write fiction? I remembered those two books I wrote as a teen—the books I never finished.
At the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference, I heard about a Masters in Creative Writing degree from an accredited online college. I later enrolled at the spry young age of 53. When I completed my Masters, the book I wrote as part of my thesis became a best-selling book in Christian fantasy on Amazon. Three years later, Seventh Dimension – The Door is still listed in the top twenty Christian fantasy books (I eventually made it free on all eBook platforms).
Following Seventh Dimension - The Door, I wrote four more books in the series: Seventh Dimension - The King, Seventh Dimension - The Castle,Seventh Dimension - The City, and Seventh Dimension - The Prescience. Currently, I’m working on the sixth book in the set to be published later this year.
What drives me to write? I write for an Audience of One. God gives me the desire to write, and He gets all the glory. I feel God’s pleasure and spiritual insights I can’t explain.
As I look back, I’ve learned I needed to live a little so God could teach me much. God has shown me He never wastes anything and limits the feasts of the locusts. They can only eat what He allows. It is never too late to start writing, and it’s always too soon to quit. If we commit our way to our heavenly Father, God will multiply our time, effort, and ability. If my writing can change a life—even if it’s only my own—then I know I’m in God’s will, and really, isn’t that all that matters?