Friday, April 11, 2014
Starting Late--Carolyn R. Wilker
Diane Amento Owens of Wise Women Write “considers herself a late bloomer and is proof that it’s never too late to begin writing.” I’m so in there with her. I, too, started later in life, although there were signs along the way that it could come to pass. And yet if someone had told me in elementary school that I’d one day be writing for publication, I would not have believed it.
Writing wasn’t presented as an option at that time as were careers in teaching, nursing or secretarial work. And motherhood. From an early age I wanted to be a teacher, and a love of reading and good books has been with me, even if the number of books in our home was quite small at that time—unlike my current collection.
During my high school years, two things happened that led to me writing, apart from school assignments. Two families moved away—a friend’s family, and a family with whom we spent a lot of time. They were all friends and I missed them; I began writing letters, some of them quite long.
In high school there was much more reading material available—English novels and plays, including Shakespearean performances we got to see live. There were stories and poems that my fellow students submitted to the yearbook. Josie, a Grade 11 classmate, illustrated her story, and she allowed me to take it home one weekend so I could read the whole thing, not just snatches of it that I read over the noon hour in the cafeteria. How did she come up with such interesting ideas?
During high school, I also began to write to a pen pal in Taiwan. Sheu Yi Yung, a graduate student in Pharmacology, sent beautiful postcards of his country and wrote about their customs and asked about ours. Already the teacher, albeit informally, I taught him English grammar, and he taught me some Chinese. Eventually I stopped writing as I had done with my Amish friend, but other connections and letters took that place.
After college, I fell in love with libraries and shared that love of books with children I taught in day care centres and nursery schools. I took my daughters to our local library or bookmobile from the time they were toddlers until well after they were able to read on their own; we read volumes. Yet it was years later, when our children were older and I was facing some health challenges, that I began to write more than letters.
At first the writing served as journalling, but with time, much reading and research, I felt compelled to write an article for our national denominational publication. That was my first publication credit and where I first learned that writing could be a risk and that others might disagree with my position. I was not dissuaded. I had a voice and I could share what I knew to be true and understood.
A friend told me about God Uses Ink and so I attended my first writers’ conference in 2001. I knew no one else there and it was a strange and interesting step. When The Word Guild formed in 2002, I joined. The conference opened a door, and with the organization, further possibilities and meeting more new people. I experimented with my writing, trying many forms—book reviews, op-ed, children's stories, devotionals and articles—and stumbled upon poetry which I still love to write.
Numerous articles, poems, devotionals and a book later, I still enjoy writing letters, though some are harder to write—such as letters in January of this year to an Amish schoolmate that our friend was seriously ill.
I may be a late bloomer to writing, still in all those years I’ve collected much to write about. And now I teach writing and edit others’ work as well.
For me, writing has been a form of self-expresssion and exploration, of how I see the world and all that is in it, a world where God works in ways I do not often understand. Including times I wonder where he is.
Is writing something that I happened on or a gift meant for me to use and share my thoughts with others? While I may not always write about God and his wonders and the way he works in others and in me, he's definitely there in my worldview—the world I see with my own eyes.
As for being a late bloomer to writing, you're not alone as I am not alone. There's room for more. If you've pondered writing, come and explore. Come join us!
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