Deborah Anderson

In 2000, Deborah Anderson left the medical field to care for her elderly mother. Soon after, she began writing. Her articles have appeared in Cross Times, Focus on the Family, Sisters in the Lord, Riders and Reapers, Rainbow Faith, FaithWriters’ Books, FaithWriters’ Magazine, and the bulletins for Dayspring Foursquare Church. She is a member of TWV, ACFW, CWG, and FCW and is currently working on her first novel. Married 28 years, Deborah and her husband enjoy country living in the Midwest. She also spends her time rescuing cats, reading novels, and taking nature walks. You can contact Deborah at DAnderson955 [at] aol [dot] com.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Hello. My name is Deborah Anderson, and I’m a closet poet. Well, I used to be—in the beginning. I didn’t really start writing until 2004, but when I did start, I thought I would be writing poetry.


As a young woman, I kept notebooks of rhyme and verse, if you can call them that. I don’t think an expert would share the same view.

I filled the pages of my journals, dreaming about how poetry would leave my mark in this world. I mean, don’t we all want to leave something behind? Who wouldn’t want to be the next Emily Dickinson?

I had no desire to write anything else. I learned the many pros of writing in this field. Poetry can help you to:

• Get over your first love after he/she has dumped you (This was my first experience with poetry. I was young once.)
• Get your first love back after he/she has dumped you (My second attempt and it worked.)
• Verbally assault the heifer/bull who stole your first love to begin with by using colorful word imagery instead of foul language (I tried. Really, I did.)
• Save money on therapy
• Save money on prescription drugs—an adjunct to therapy
• Vent anger (Again, using colorful word imagery versus screaming and cursing.)

So, you can imagine my surprise when someone suggested I write nonfiction.

Yeah, right.

Several people gave me this advice, which made me wonder if God was trying to tell me something, so I listened and started writing nonfiction instead. Soon after, I published. Hmm. Maybe this wasn’t a bad idea after all. I can do this.

Bye, bye, poetry.

And just as I was getting used to writing nonfiction, more advice and opportunities came along, suggesting I write fiction.

Are people never happy?

Like before, there were too many voices for me to ignore. And since I don’t like to cross the Big Guy upstairs, because He is the reason I have these words to begin with, I veered into fiction, too.

Crazy, isn’t it?

Soon after, a tsunami of story concepts flooded my mind. They came so fast, I could barely keep up with them. The notebooks I used to fill with poetry now contained novel ideas, along with outlines for nonfiction books. And you know what? I thought I had found my groove. Okay, several grooves actually.

My writing tooled along until I heard the famous “pick one genre and stick with it” clause. Hmmm. The ideas in my notebooks fit multiple genres, not one.

I doubted my ability. What am I doing? This isn’t how I’m supposed to do things.

I decided that I had missed the mark. I mean, really, if the published pros advised against my methods, well, something wasn’t right.

Then I got to thinking, which can be dangerous for a person like me, and I wondered, Is God showing me something different—again? Or did I get it all wrong to begin with? I concluded the latter.

Steeling my resolve, I decided to do what the professionals were saying.

But it didn’t work.

Night after night, lying in bed, right before I entered my comatose state, ideas would invade my mind like a swarm of

bees, and I would have to get up and write them down to escape. Why God does these kinds of things, well, I’ll never know. He knows what a grouch I am when I first get out of bed no matter what time of day it is. Maybe it amuses Him to watch me at times. I don’t know.

As a result, I not only felt like a Gumby doll, with kids stretching my bony arms and legs in different directions, but I grew more and more frustrated. I finally said, “God, what do You want me to do? I can’t deal with this anymore.” I threw up my hands. “Maybe I’ve missed it. If I have, I’m sorry.” I almost added that I’d stop writing if He wanted me to, but I couldn’t bring myself to spit the words out my mouth. I was afraid of the answer.

The next morning, these words flashed through my mind: Stop trying to be like everyone else. I don’t want you to be like them. I have a new thing for you to do.

In fact, I saw the data so clearly, I got up and wrote it down, purposing in my heart to follow it to the letter.

But the tug-of-war continued in my soul, and I wanted to quit—permanently. I still had one choice left, though, so I decided to do it God’s way, not mine.

I hammered away on my keyboard, producing nonfiction and fiction, writing whatever came to mind, no questions asked. I knew, according to others, that it wasn’t what I was supposed to do. And to be honest, it’s not what I had originally planned. I wanted to be a poet, remember?

Yeah, right.

I finally got excited about this novel business, though. I read hundreds of books (I’m not kidding) and pictured myself writing like Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, and Nicholas Sparks. I said I pictured it, not that I could do it. But it’s what I wanted.

Then the blasted voices came again. “You should write humor, Deborah.”

“You have a strong voice for the young adult market.”

Excuse me?

No. Way.

Gumby. Gumby. Gumby.

Blocking out the voices, I submitted some nonfiction humor articles. I even entered one of my manuscripts in a novel contest—in the young adult category. I didn’t shift gears with any of my writing because of what people said. I believed God used the voices of others to convey His words. And I wasn’t about to say to Him, “Ahem, excuse me, Sir, but this isn’t how things get done around here, so I’m not submitting what You give me when it’s not what I want to write.”

Would you?

I’ve found that you can’t always get what you want. But God will always equip you with what you need on this crazy journey.

Oh, about the humorous nonfiction articles I submitted. I just received an e-mail last week. I made the final round with a well-known publisher on one of them, but I won’t know for sure until September. Trust me, if I make it through, though, I’ll let you know.

The novel contest? Well, I didn’t take top billing, but I placed. Truthfully, I didn’t deserve the win. I was so caught up in the conflict (wonder why) that I forgot some important concepts—plot and setting.

All I know for now is that I’m right where I’m supposed to be in this season of my life. And I hope it doesn’t turn again, because I’m starting to enjoy the ride.