Counting Words

I just returned from a weekend of solitude at a Christian camp all by myself so I could write a short story for publisher submission due in a few days.

“Have a nice time,” people would say when they heard about it.  “Really,” I would usually think to myself.  “A nice time? What is so nice about being locked up in a room by myself for over 48 hours to write.”

Nothing fancy, locked away in a lodge to write in solitude.

Nothing fancy, locked away in a lodge to write in solitude.

Prompted to Submit my Story

I was in fear.  I had backed myself into a corner with the deadline.  I had never done anything like this before.   And I had never submitted a story for publication either.  Needless to say I had lots of doubt.  But I was a woman with a mission.

I heard about this story submission after joining the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association a few months ago.  It was one of the first emails that I received as a member.  I knew as soon as I saw it that it was tailor-made for my story.  It was a story about mother/child healing.  But I didn’t act on it.

All of this writing stuff was so new to me.  I had just started my blog and was writing devotionals for my church.  Was I ready to take on a project where my writing would be competing against other writers?  I was sure that there were lots of writers with stories about healing.  After all, my story of healing was what led me down this writing path in the first place.

Committed to Write

As the deadline approached, a kept getting a nudge from God to submit my story.  Of course, then I argued with him.

“But what about my book?” I would ask him. “If I do this story, then I may never write my book.”  His loving response was to just trust Him and to stop questioning it.

Preparing for my writing retreat with prayer from friends.

Preparing for my writing retreat with prayer from friends.

So as I committed to do the writing and prepared to write, I received several confirmations that I really have lots of material for a book.  Writing this story submission was not going to detract from the bigger book.  In fact, I started to embrace the idea that regardless of the outcome, that my weekend of writing would be a step I needed to take in my quest to become a real writer and that none of my work would be wasted.

It was with that attitude that I sat down at my laptop at the camp this past weekend—alone and away from family on Thanksgiving weekend.  But I wasn’t totally alone.

Not All Alone

During one of my meals with the camp staff, I heard the story of a woman whose mother-in-law was just diagnosed with cancer.  They were in the process of deciding her course of treatment and weighing the options for quality of life.  The options were all very grave.  I almost started to cry as I had just finished writing about my mother’s illness and the quality of life choices we made for her.  “Thank you God,” I thought to myself for this kiss and confirmation that I am not alone in this.

The internet and cell phone were also available for me to reach out when I needed a break.  On a lighter note, I found out that Facebook now has the capability to do video calls.  I placed my first video call late one night.  Having some face time was a good break that gave me the momentum to write a few more hours into the early morning.

Aside from these few human interactions, my best companion I had over the weekend was God. He kept me out of my ‘head’ much of the time in my writing. Every day my devotional spoke words of confirmation and encouragement for my mission. It was the kiss that I needed each day to tackle this project.

A walk to stretch my legs and a friendly face to urge me on.

A walk to stretch my legs and a friendly face to urge me on.

Counting Words

The one place I couldn’t get my head out of my writing was with my word counts though. With a word limit of 5,000 to 10,000 words, I became very much aware of my word count to track my progress. I started the weekend with 2,000 words already written. By the end of the first day I was up to 4,600 words. By break time on Saturday night I was at 7,600 words—twice as many words as my recovery testimony. When I realized that, I was a bit overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I was doing. That writing took me over a month to write.

By the time I left the camp on Sunday afternoon my first full draft of the story was 9,188 words–right on target. Last night as I read the entire draft for the first time, I started to cry. It is a beautiful story. Someday I know it will be published. I have my friends to thank for their prayers and encouragement as I go down this road. Above all else, I am thankful that God is giving me His words to tell it.

And by the way, it really was a nice weekend.  Word count = 842, but who’s counting?

Update 8/24/2012: My story was accepted by Cladach Publishing in January 2012 and released in August of that year in “Journeys to Mother Love.”

Chapter 8 - Walking My Mother Home by Ardis A. Nelson

Chapter 8 – Walking My Mother Home by Ardis A. Nelson

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  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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