Last week the lobby was filled with clusters of women from all over the country, in town to attend the 68th Women’s International Convention of the Church of God. The gaggles, clad in brilliantly colored summer dresses, brightened the air with happy chatter as they came and went to various events during the convention that brought 10,000 attendees to Milwaukee. It was a delight to observe them, their joyful bonds of friendship radiating from the bunches of women gathered on various sofas throughout the lobby.
I had hoped to connect with the women, longing to share some of the excitement that surrounded them whenever they appeared in the lobby. I watched the pockets of women, hoping for a lull in one of the conversations, or anything that would make my approach less of an intrusion, however the women were so fully engaged with each other I never observed a restful moment in their gatherings. Resigned to observe the sisterhood from a distance, I was thrilled when one of the attendees approached me. She had seen the information about the Narrator program in her room and it intrigued her, as her daughter wanted to be a writer. We chatted briefly about the program, and then she returned to the rush of convention-goers hurrying to and from events.
The former educator in me has a big soft spot for young people pursuing dreams, so I kept watch in the lobby, hoping to run into the budding writer. Days later, I spotted her and introduced myself, indicating her mother told me of her career goals. She instantly cringed with the special embarrassment exclusively felt by teens whenever their parents are involved in anything in their lives. Quickly overcoming the mortification of being revealed by her mother as a talented young woman with big goals, the unfailingly polite, bashful young woman agreed to talk about her writing with me.
The slight, soft-spoken girl told me her name was Carrington and she was from St. Louis, MO. Hesitantly, she told me she had been writing and creating stories since she was four years old. Captivated by the Chronicles of Narnia and the works of fantasy writer Erin Hunter, the girl developed a taste for the alternative worlds found between the pages of books. Her love of otherworldly tales was fostered by a Star Wars-loving father and a mother with a penchant for medieval period tales ripe with castles and warrior princesses. She so loves slipping into another world she began to create her own, inventing a new reality for a book she is writing, tentatively titled Book of Secrets.
Her book features the things Carrington loves best: magic, animals that have the ability to communicate with humans, and a good so powerful and insistent it will always overcome evil. As we talked about her work, her confidence grew and she explained that talking to others was difficult for her, but when she was writing, she could freely communicate her thoughts and feelings with others. She loves creating her own worlds and wants those who read her work to feel as if she is speaking directly to them. She believes that her readers have full access to her inner thoughts and world view, as she presents her truest self in her works of fiction.
When asked what her dream writing job would be, she explains that writing for magazine is her ultimate professional goal. After digging a bit, she revealed an 8th grade English project sparked her passion for the medium. The class was asked to create their own magazines and fill those magazines with content. She not only wrote for her own magazine, but contributed content to the collections of classmates, and from there she was hooked on the format. When asked if she had begun submitting work for publication, she responded with disappointment that she had, but had yet to be published. I offered to her the advice that applies to everyone who tries to do something different and creative: keep trying. I told her the truth, which is the word no is the thing creative people hear the most, but just one yes is all it takes, so courageously press on.
As the shy young woman rejoined her family and made her way back to her room, I noticed a new sparkle in her eyes that had not been there before she started talking about her writing. I watched her as she walked away, excited for her and all of the adventure her future will hold.