Yesterday I gave a talk to a church group about how the various things I’ve written in my life have taught me ten valuable things. I gave examples from my own writing for each one.
1. The world is full of fascinating people with interesting stories to tell.
As a writer, I have had the opportunity to interview NBA basketball players, politicians, politician’s partners, Hutterites, peace advocates, Olympic medalists, airline pilots, Buddhist monks, teachers and women who served as maids for Winnipeg’s wealthy in the early 1900s. These stories about interesting people were published in the Winnipeg Free Press, on travel blogs, in magazines and in my regular column in The Carillon.
2. Teamwork is important.
My novel Lost on the Prairie would not be coming out if it wasn’t for my wonderful editor Nandini Thaker and designer Jacqui Thomas who worked so hard with me to create a book I can be proud of.
3. Criticism can be very helpful.
When I wrote for the Faith Page of The Winnipeg Free Press I received many letters that criticized what I had written. It forced me to think carefully about what I believed, to learn to express myself clearly and taught me to be very humble.
4. Look at the world through the eyes of children.
Trying to see things as a child would can open up new perspectives and help you see things in entirely new and meaningful ways. I had to look at things from a child’s point of view when I wrote curriculum materials for children. I had to try to see the world through the eyes of a 12 year old boy when I wrote my novel.
5. Writing helps you get through difficult experiences
Writing about difficult life experiences like my mother’s death or how our family survived the tsunami in Phuket, or how I dealt with the foster care system as a teacher helped me process those experiences and deal with them.
6. The Bible may be an old book but it still has things to teach us.
That’s a truth I’ve discovered when I write sermons or devotionals for an annual meditation magazine.
7. Look for the positive.
I have had quite a number of my stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and when you write those kinds of stories you have to look for the silver lining, for what is good and positive in life.
8. I can speak up about important issues.
I have noticed that particularly recently I have been using my newspaper columns in The Carillon to speak up about issues that are important to me and that I think society should address.
9. We are all connected.
Writing my daily blog has certainly proved this. Via a blog post I’ve reconnected with a childhood friend, my former students, connected with an employee of the British Supreme Court, connected with the writer of a film textbook and many others.
10. Being a life -long learner is rewarding.
My writing assignments have taught me about so many different subjects many I would probably never have explored if I hadn’t been assigned to write about them.
My job as a writer has enriched my life. I am grateful to Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach for asking me to talk about my life as a writer last night. It was a good exercise to try and list the ways writing has made my life meaningful.