writing wednesdays: thief river falls + author heidi schlumpf

I’ve had a wonderful last couple days, a great majority of it writing-focused, much to my delight.

On Monday afternoon, my author friend Jean Patrick arrived in Fargo from Mitchell, South Dakota. After a birthday celebration (hers) at Space Aliens restaurant (a debut visit for her), we dropped off my youngest at a sitter’s and headed north to Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Last night, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at The Evergreen restaurant, chatting it up with three other fellow writers who also had been invited to present at the Young Author Conference sponsored by the Northwest Service Cooperative. We shared both the joys and trials of the writing life. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down at my computer to write and suddenly realized I needed to go clean my toilet instead,” said one writer friend. “And I don’t even like cleaning toilets!”

Ah, yeah, the dreaded blank screen. We all groaned in understanding of what it’s like to face that taunting screen day after day, to go through periods of doubting ourselves, to confront the financial struggles of trying to make it as a writer.

As much as we agreed on the difficulties of this profession, we also nodded in tandem how our writing life is an immense gift — one we would not give up for the world — and how fortunate we feel to be in a position to influence children through what we have learned in our years of trial and error. We bonded over our shared sentiment that the writing life is a long process with many hills and valleys, but that it is more often than not filled with life and light. “The writing life is one filled with patience and faith,” were the words I found in a book that was passed around in an attempt to inspire us. Indeed, was the shared sentiment in response.

But most of all, I feel gratitude. The chance to be among other artists, and to stand before a captive audience of children who have expressed an interest in writing, is something to treasure. Today, I feel like I made an impact on the lives of some of the kids who came into my presence. I had the chance to tell several of them who showed an extra spark that they have a gift that ought to be nurtured. I can only hope they take my words to heart, as I did when others led me toward this path. The chance to do this, to be that conduit of hope and inspiration for the younger generation of writers, is a privilege I don’t take for granted.

I also don’t take for granted the wider circle of writers with whom I’ve come into contact over the past decade or so, including fellow writing colleague and Catholic mother Heidi Schlumpf. And I’m honored to feature Heidi on Peace Garden Writer this week — the second writer mom to be featured there in this month of mothers. Heidi’s beautiful book on the adoption process affirms that the “patience and faith” basis of the writing life often extends into other areas as well. I hope you’ll hop over to Peace Garden Writer at the start of Wednesday morning to read about Heidi’s journey into international adoption. See you there!