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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: Writing Randi's Steps
By Francy Judge


My life changed with one idea . . .

If I write, my kids will want to write. I learned to draw watching my father sketch portraits in pastels. Could they learn writing by osmosis too? I wondered.

After homeschooling for years, my kids still loathed writing. Even writing their names on a test was a battle. I didn’t dare hope for future Hemingways, Austens, or Orwells . . . just kids who enjoyed writing . . . or at least wouldn’t feign illness at the mere mention of plot.

One glitch in my plan: I was an artist who loved to read, not a writer. I read books on writing, and taught grammar rules to my kids, but could I write? And what would I write?

The subject had to be something from my heart, something I cared about. Then I remembered Randi. And I wrote.

As my father once used charcoal and a piece of tan tinted paper to create the golden tendrils on Randi’s forehead, I wanted to draw her life with words. Images and details of our childhood friendship poured into my brain as I typed. Dusty memories tucked away for twenty-five years cleared into focus. I couldn’t stop writing.

I smiled as I wrote about the autumn mornings Randi woke me up early to rake leaves with her wacky family—a family who loved yard work and assumed I did too. I wiggled in my chair as I remembered finding a plump worm in my sleeve. But I didn’t complain because I wanted to be like Randi. I followed her steps everywhere, placing my foot in her footprint to magically trade places.

One time my oldest son walked in on me as I laughed over my keyboard. “What’s so funny?” Stephen asked with eyebrows raised.

“This movie.”

Stephen looked at the words on the monitor. “Okay, Mom.”

Surely, he thought I had flipped. But I was watching my life story, word by word. One page grew to ten. Soon I was filling chapters.

Sometimes I typed through tears: at nine years-old, Randi had a cancerous brain tumor. I wrote about visiting her in the hospital after her surgery and how I blamed cancer for destroying our friendship.

Different pages pulled out different emotions . . .

Embarrassment: I cringed at my preteen embarrassing moments. Smiling at the boy I liked with a lettuce leaf in my tooth was now permanently recorded in black ink.

Guilt: The truth resurfaced as I abandoned Randi to have more fun with other friends.

Pain: My heart ached as I saw the written words: Randi has six months left to live.

Tenderness: I cheered for my character as she knocked on Randi’s door to apologize.

Hope: in the end I imagined Randi waiting for me in heaven with a smile and an ice-cream cone.

After a year of writing my first novel, I was hooked. Every day when I sat down at the computer, I entered a different world with friends from my past. I thought it was my plan to create children writers, but God, in his unexpected way, created a writer in me. He also used my novel, Randi’s Steps, to heal me of the guilt I stored. He showed me how to forgive myself for mistakes I couldn’t change. He never fails to surprise me . . .

One morning as early sunlight flickered in my eyes, I saw a mirage. Stephen typed before me. “What got you out of bed so early on a Saturday?” I asked.

“I’m working on a novel. I had a really cool idea.”

“That’s great.” I sat down at the computer next to the future C.S. Lewis—okay, a mom can hope—and opened my Randi’s Steps file to rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite. And thank the Lord for answering my prayer.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/30/10
The story about Randi is beautiful and inspirational. I also love to read and write and did my best to instill that love in my children. My youngest does like to read. The older two not so much, but like you said a mother can dream.
stanley Bednarz05/05/10
Thanks for sharing. I can identify with the part about wanting my kids to write, as teenagers, they tend to do the opposite if I push. So I'm left to pray, which is no small mountain that God can move!
Amen. Thanks for this. I needed it.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/06/10
Congratulations in placing in the top 30 overall.