I wrote my first novel when I was nine years old. It is called The Swords. It had five chapters and about 700 words. And a moral. I guess when you’re nine every story must have a moral. I spent the next twelve years rewriting it every couple years.
I found creative places to write — in a magnolia tree that grew in our back yard, under a blanket tent in my bedroom, and my favorite, on the roof of our house. I got in trouble for climbing onto the roof. I’m sure my parents were concerned about my physical safety. However, I felt they were trying to stifle my creativity and still sneaked up there as often as I could get away with it.
Around that time, God brought my life-long best friend, Rachel, into my life. She wanted to be a writer, too, so the two of us encouraged each other toward this goal. Rachel and I wrote our novels (or rewrote them) and sent a tape back and forth with us reading the newest portions to each other.
Then life happened. I grew up, got married, had kids. Rachel got involved in ministry in Russia. She kept up with her writing. Mine fell by the wayside. In my mind, I had chosen a different path. I forgot all my story ideas. I laid aside my dream of one day seeing my work in print. I neglected one of my talents.
More years passed. We moved to Africa and settled into our new life. In 2011, I was challenged to try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). My kids were going to do it with me, including my six year old son. The motivation and challenge of all of us participating helped me plug my way through a book. At the end of the month, I had a nearly finished rough draft of a 50,000+ word novel.
The following year, I read a book by Jeff Goins called You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). I hadn’t considered myself a writer in so long that I’d lost sight of the gift — the talent — God had given me. I’d lost sight of the love I had for the craft and the enjoyment I took away from it. I’d forgotten what it was like to write the words, feel them, pour them out, and then come up for air, back to the real world and out of the world that existed only in my mind. I felt like I’d misused a talent that God had given me, had ignored it. That talent needed to be dusted off and used because it was a gift.
The idea for Talents began to grow in 2013. I thought about it all the time. What if people used the talents God had given them to help those who needed it most? What if they didn’t? What if people didn’t just see the needs of those around them, but took active steps to meet them?
And so, the characters of Parker, Alice, Beatrice, Collin, and Ed were born, people who were flawed, struggled, made choices right and wrong, and ultimately used their talents to make a difference in the lives of those around them for good and bad.
I hope you’ll read Talents and ask yourself “What am I doing with the talents God has given me? Am I using it to making a difference for good in the world around me?” As Leo Buscaglia once said, “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”