I don't remember the exact date that Theresa Sneed introduced me to the Arizona Night Writer's Association. I was expecting, or had just had, my eighth child - who is now nineteen years old and recently married. ANWA has grown and changed right along with my family. Now we call it "American Night Writers Association." I still get funny looks from people when I talk about ANWA - and I love watching their smiles as the light goes on in their eyes when I clarify the difference between "Knight/Night Riders" and "Night Writers." This is usually accomplished with fun hand gestures and sound effects: you know...clickety, clickety, clack (pantomiming typing fingers)...and not "vroom, vroom" (pantomiming hands twisting gears on the handle bars of a motorcycle)..insert big smiley face here!
Anyway, as a long-time member and ANWA blogger, I have been watching these changes with great interest and not a little awe. Church callings, family commitments and the pursuit of a degree curtailed a lot of my direct involvement, but my sweet husband always made sure I didn't let my membership lapse. (It's awesome to have a supportive spouse!) At one time, I had the goal to purchase every book written by an ANWA member. I still have that dream...but sadly/happily your successes have exceeded my budget (more smiley faces).
I've been evaluating my personal growth as a writer over the past nineteen years and setting new writing goals. My season has finally come, but I find myself hesitant to step into it. Why? I have to admit...mostly fear - lots and lots of fear. But little by little, I am addressing those fears. Tuesday evening's chapter meeting proved to be a life changing moment for me. Janet gave an outstanding presentation on taking small steps to reach our writing "goal posts." All through her lesson, I kept thinking about the scriptures in 1 Nephi 16:29, Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 64:33, and Alma 37:6 that teach the concept of how great things are brought about by small and simple things. During scripture study the next morning, I came to D&C 123:16-17: "...let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power: and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed" ...and my universe shifted.
The Lord didn't give Nephi the entire set of instructions for the ship all at once, but a little at a time, as Nephi went "into the mount" (symbolic of temple attendance) and prayed often. The Lord showed Nephi great things as he went about the work he was given. The end result was a magnificent ship that carried their families and all their provisions across the great sea to the promised land. Nephi and his family had never built a ship or navigated the sea before that time. But Nephi knew it was what the Lord wanted them to do. He had faith that the Lord would take them to the land He had promised.
Reading through the rest of the chapter, I came to verse 24. Nephi tells about how, after reaching the promised land, they tilled the earth and planted the seeds they had prepared and carried with them across the sea. And those seeds grew. That is when my mind exploded.
I have been gathering seeds of thought for many years. I've attended workshops, chapter meetings, conferences, and retreats. I've recorded experiences and moments of inspiration when the Spirit has witnessed many truths to my heart. It is time for me to plant those words in a book so that they can grow and be useful to others, even if that just means my own children and grandchildren. I can't share my seeds of thought until I put them on paper. People can't feast on something that doesn't exist. I need to stop being afraid and just plant the seeds. I don't have to plant them all at once, either. The Spirit will direct each stroke of the keyboard as I continue to study and pray about the things I need to write.
Now what? I have so many ideas racing in my head. I think it's rather poignant that as I am dragged into the metaphorical autumn years of my life, I am living in a part of Arizona where an ideal time for planting starts in September. This gives me great hope.
The best writing exercise I've had in a long time was our Summer Writing Challenge. Practicing writing every day has paid off in ways I never imagined. So, I'm off to work out my body, in order to stimulate my mind. I have salsa to make (tomatoes were only .49/lb and I couldn't resist), bread to bake and songs to sing. And then I shall write some more. Life is magnificent.