Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)
TITLE: Writing Randi's Steps
By Francy Judge
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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.
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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