Priority: Beauregard

Sunday, March 3, 2019 will forever remain in my memory much like August 25, 2005 does.

On August 25, when I lived in the New Orleans area, Hurricane Katrina smashed the city. It was a Category 4 storm, the second-strongest category in the hurricane rankings.

On March 3, 2019, an EF4 tornado struck the small town of Beauregard, Alabama, just three counties from where I now live. Its winds roared in at 170 mph, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane(the strongest), and the second-strongest storm on the tornadic scale. A monster of a storm, it was!

Exhausted after a sleepless night, not from worry but because writing ideas and plot problems kept swirling through my head till morning, I dragged myself to church that Sunday, March 3, about a thirty-minute drive to Montgomery. Rain pelted my car, wind howled. Ordinarily, I’d have returned home after church, but my pastor called a special meeting with us lay leaders. So, I stayed with a friend during that stormy day and got a little rest till meeting time.

Upon my return home early that evening, I found an urgent message in my email’s inbox. My sister’s note was brief: my brother-in-law’s farm received a direct hit from a tornado. My nephew, his two sons, and their dog, Emma, were there when it smashed the farmhouse. Thankfully, because they hid in its closet (except for Emma who refused to join them), they survived. Emma lived through it, too. According to my brother-in-law, the eye of the storm came within one-hundred yards of the house. I’m grateful to the Lord everyone in my family survived this tragedy. Had the storm come any closer, my three nephews might have been numbered among those who perished.

What does this tragedy have to do with writing? Well, it explains why I didn’t post anything last week. The week the storm hit, I did very little writing. Family was my priority then.

If we want to succeed as writers, writing must be our priority—near the top of our list. However, as Christian writers we can’t make it an idol. Church attendance, worship, prayer and Bible study should always be our first priority. Also, we must always be willing to serve others.

My priority last week was helping my family clean up from the tragedy. This meant putting my writing schedule on the backburner for a while. We Christian writers must learn how to balance our priorities. We can’t always be available for every service project. We must know when to say “yes” to service opportunities and when to say “no,” and we can get burned out by saying “yes” to everything that comes our way. This causes our writing to suffer.

When to say “yes” and when to say “no,” though, is an individual matter. For me, I didn’t have to think twice. My family needed me, so I made myself available. I’m also grateful for all the friends and other family members who came to help. Now, I’m back to writing again.

My brother-in-law told his story on Montgomery, Alabama’s local news channel, WSFA. To watch it, click on this link: http://www.wsfa.com/2019/03/05/family-survives-tornado-that-destroyed-lee-county-farm/?fbclid=IwAR15kh1i3-oYY2GifeUlEppkXBf8B2ESo-SUCXgwI6uP4_oEp30Ix7eGhAE

Till next week, friends, keep on writing!

 

It’s Never Too Late

 

Many people think they’re too old to write professionally. My response? It’s never too late. Take these famous authors, for example. They all started late in life.

  1. Anna Sewell only wrote one book, but what a book! She wrote it at age fifty-seven. Since then, it’s become a classic for all the horse lovers. Its title? Black Beauty. She died a year after its publication.
  2. James Michener wrote his first book, Tales of the South Pacific, when he was forty years old.
  3. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing career began when she was in her 40s, but her fame didn’t happen overnight. It came from her book, Little House in the Big Woods, published some twenty years later.
  4. Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published when she was forty years old.
  5. Frank McCourt published his first book, Angela’s Ashes,  at age sixty-six. He won several awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize.

No matter what our age, we can always be writers. For most of us, literary success doesn’t happen overnight. The key is to stick with it, study our craft, and continue revising and working on our projects.  We may have to revise a hundred times, or we may only need to do ten revisions or less.  Whatever it takes, keep working on our literary projects till we’re satisfied we’ve done our best.

Till next week, friends, keep on writing!

Frank McCourt’s photo credit: David Shankbone. All other photos are in the public domain.