I went to college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where I decided I’d study math. I’d always done well in math; I was one of those geeky types who actually liked Calculus. In fact, it was one of the biggest bothers of my life to be voted by my high school class as “Most Intelligent.” Now, why couldn’t I be the other half of “cutest couple,” or “most likely to succeed.” To me it felt like being voted BIGGEST NERD OF ALL TIME.
But I digress.
So, miss smarty pants goes to PLU and studies math. A lot. Every stinkin’ day. After a while, I got so bored of solving problems that I re-evaluated. Did I really want to solve problems the rest of my life? Around this time, I started pursuing ministry as an option. I volunteered as a Young Life leader at a local high school. I wondered how I could be a youth minister with a math major. I threw around social work, then eventually landed on teaching with this line of logic:
Well, I want to work with kids. And kids go to junior high and high school, don’ t they? Well, what better thing to do than teach?
So, I switched my major to English (goodbye math!) and decided to obtain a secondary teaching certificate.
I’d always enjoyed writing, so I felt like this was a fit. But I didn’t really know that writing would become my passion until a particular writing assignment. I had Dr. Jenseth. Four times. The first time I had him, I hated hated hated him. He took my staggering works of genius (I was voted most intelligent, you know) and severed them with red pen. How dare he thwart my genius? How dare he make me rethink my word choices?
By the third time I had him, we had forged a genuine truce. I started listening to the red-penned advice, and my writing became tighter. I also took journalism at this time and found a hankering for the 5Ws and an H.
So, yeah, the assignment. It was something like, “Write an essay about what you’d like to see yourself doing ten years from now.”
It was such a dull topic, and if you know me, you’ll know I hate writing things like this. I am not a researcher. I hate term papers. I don’t like delving into speculation. So, instead I wrote this paper as a suspenseful short story. Then, I imagined myself behind the iron curtain (yep, I’m old, folks) smuggling Bibles. So I wrote this story. I remember showing it to my friends, I was so proud. Dr. Jenseth liked it too, though he disagreed with my religious fervor. I got an A.
The feeling I had when I penned that story–it flew out of me–is something I’ll never forgot. A rush of creative adrenaline surged through me. Though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, as I look back, THAT was the moment I think I realized God had called me to write.
But I had to go through years of healing first.