Sharing the flame
Last Wednesday morning, I was asked to speak about my career as a writer to a bunch of fourth graders at my daughter’s school. I was doing them a favor, plus I thought it would be exciting to have a chance to talk about the passion I have for my career, which is also my ministry calling.
See, I have a few different “jobs” as a professional writer, which isn’t too unusual for the industry. I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve as the managing editor and writer for a Christian newspaper, the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, thought to be the oldest continuously published newspaper in Methodism. I have served as its editor since 2010. But beyond that, I am also a novelist, a freelance writer and editor for other publications and clients, a writing coach, and a blogger.
Passion. Maybe I should call it “obsession.” As I stood in that classroom, yammering on about process and characters and how much fun it was (seriously—I think I said “fun” nine times to each group of kids), it hit me that I am indeed living my dream, doing work I truly love with my entire soul.
The analogy I used for them was fire: “You know how when you love something you just want to do it all the time, and it burns inside like fire? Like how you feel about soccer, or gymnastics, or Minecraft? That’s how I feel about writing. I do it all the time. I can’t stop.”
They got the point.
It was an encouraging and inspiring exercise for me personally to be able to talk about my writing career and how it all weaves together, and as I spoke, it hit me how funny it’s turned out: I can now see God’s amazing master-spinner, master-potter hand throughout my whole life, braiding all the odd, quirky parts of me into who I am today.
But more than that, it was also a wonderful way to showcase writing as a potential career for these young people. Writing is often not a popular career choice. It gets a bad rap, and those who love writing are steered to other, more “stable” jobs where they can use their writing talents and get benefits and high pay, such as being an attorney or a professor.
But writing can be an outstanding career with many options, whether you write books or journalism or poetry or code, whether you’re a technical writer or a speechwriter. I wanted those kids to know that. If they love writing like I do, then by all means, they should go for it! Pursue it with a vengeance, not an afterthought.
There was a little girl in the first group of kids who kept raising her hand, volunteering information or asking questions. At the end, as all the other kiddos lined up for the next session, she scurried over to me and grinned.
“I wrote this,” she said quietly, I could almost smell her pride like coffee brewing. “Can you read it? The whole thing?”
I flipped through, noting the marker drawings of castles, the carefully printed rainbow-hued words.
“Absolutely. I’ll read it after.”
I did read it. And it was good! I wrote her an encouraging note, set it on her desk. She wrote me back and sent it home with my daughter, and I’ve kept her sticky note on my desk ever since.
There are so many kids like her out there—kids who have that fire inside of them. Kids like me, kids who are stumbling their way toward writing and maybe being guided into law or academia. Kids who should be told the truth: Do what you love. Do it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, or you’d be better off in a corporation somewhere, stifling your creativity and clocking long hours while you collect the big bucks. If that’s what fires you up, fine. But listen to your heart. Listen to God.
He has a plan for you.
That fire I feel that drives me to write? I have a theory: That’s God’s Holy Spirit burning inside me, pushing me to use my gift to spread His word in the world.
What’s your fire?
Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach.