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