For a Mennonite minister, he had quite an extensive library and encouraged us all to read. We soon learned that he couldn’t be persuaded to buy us toys, but if we asked for a book, he would find a way to get it for us. The teachers in the one-room school I attended added to the fascination for the written word. One chose interesting books from which to read a chapter every day after lunch. The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, The Secret Garden and Little Men, for example, were read with such enlivening expression it wasn’t hard to imagine the settings, and live along with the characters. My best friend and I shared books for the local library and read well over a hundred in any given year.
I waited a year and then attended what had become WRITE! Canada. I didn’t know a soul, for Brenda had succumbed to cancer by then. I was welcomed and nurtured and took in so much information my head was full and my heart was light by the time I came home.
For months, I had dreaded wakening to another day without my beloved, but the morning after that conference, I awoke with the realization that I could scarcely wait to get up and begin writing. I literally sat up in bed and said aloud, “Hello, the rest of my life! I want this day to begin.” It was nice to have new purpose in life. My first writing after that was a week’s assignment for REJOICE! a daily devotional. When that was well-received, I had several ideas of what to pursue. I had in mind a book I could write, but all the advice I got at the conference was toward writing articles first. However the book idea wouldn’t go away, so I thought I’d just begin to get it on paper while working at other articles. But when I got started I typed from 9 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. day after day as fast as my fingers could type. Even at night I often awoke with an idea of what should come next. Of course it took a lot of editing and reworking after the initial writing but there was a lot of pleasure in that first draft. Not Easily Broken wasn’t published for a few years, but the sequel, Not Far from the Tree came a year later after that.
Tyson’s Sad Bad Day was another project that grew out of a poem that came to me in the middle of the night, following the death of my daughter’s best friend and the need of her young niece and nephew to have an understanding of death as part of life. When I couldn’t find an illustrator, my horizons were stretched again as I drew the pictures to illustrate that children’s book. I’ve also had the joy of being part of three different anthologies—Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, Grandmothers’ Necklace and Fifty Shades of Grace, and have had several personal experience articles in a variety of magazines.