Writing is both a calling and one of the greatest personal blessings I have ever experienced. But that’s not how I’ve always thought of writing. My attitude towards writing—like my journey as a writer—has had lots of quirky twists. Yet it’s in my writing journey that I can most clearly trace how God is guiding me.
As a child, I dreamed of becoming a Writer (in the Most Literary Sense), as well as a nurse and a veterinarian. I wrote a few short stories, a notebook full of terrible poetry, and adapted a few stage plays for our family living room productions. When I entered the convent of the Daughters of St. Paul at the age of fifteen, I thought I was trading my dreams of writing for the greater dream of following Christ. I had no idea how closely linked those dreams were.
Two years later, I was given my first writing assignment: to adapt one of our children’s Bible storybooks into a script for a puppet video. Because it was a simple adaptation, I didn’t think of it as “real” writing. With no training, I was happily ignorant of the fact that scriptwriting can be a very challenging form. So I just I dove in and wrote what was needed.
I started thinking about “really writing” about five years later, in the midst of other full-time responsibilities as a Pauline sister. I had an idea for a book—and this idea wouldn’t leave me alone, despite the fact that the chance of my being published seemed incredibly small. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to write it.
As I expected, the first and second times I presented the manuscript for publication, it was turned down. The rejection reinforced my self-doubt, but I kept writing. Over the ten years it took me to write, revise, and publish the book, I confronted those doubts and, in slow-motion, made the leap of faith to see myself as called to write.
Now, writing is an essential part of my life as a Daughter of St. Paul. (I don’t think I could stop writing even if I tried!) People often think that the lives of sisters are calm—even boring!—but I dare anyone to discover a moment of boredom in a day of the life of any Daughter of St. Paul. Our mission to communicate the Gospel through our lives and through the media combines a pastoral spirit and a continual engagement with the media that can be very demanding. In this context, writing is sometimes the most contemplative time of my week. Closing my office door to the outside world, sitting before a blank screen, and trying to articulate the deep inner stirrings of God in my soul has become a huge blessing in my life. Real Writing, which has nothing to do with genre or literary-ness, forces me to connect my experience of the love and wisdom of God with the needs of the world and the people that I meet. Writing is the gift that enables me to live my call to contemplation.
Another gift of the writing life is hanging out with other writers. That’s why I was delighted to discover the Catholic Writers Guild in late February, 2012, just in time to register for the Catholic Writers Conference Online. After participating in three excellent free e-courses, I was hooked. Almost immediately, I was able to connect with other nonfiction writers, and we’ve formed the Alberione Nonfiction Critique Group. (Periodically, our group will open to new members, so visit the forum or email me if you’re interested.)
I continue to write in many genres: spirituality, biography, self-help/spiritual growth, screenwriting, etc. One of my passions as a Daughter of St. Paul is to share the blessing of being a writer by sharing the Pauline spirituality of communication with other writers and communicators through my blog, www.windowstothesoul.wordpress.com.
As a newbie to the CWG, I’d love to hear how you feel blessed to write—feel free to comment below or drop me an email.