Please welcome this weeks guest Kathy Nickerson for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
Thanks to Kristena for sharing her space to let me talk about my writing journey.
In the late eighties, I wrote a personal experience piece about my battle with depression for Christian Herald Magazine. I was thrilled with the check that came in the mail and excited by the opportunities Editor Dean Merrill offered me for more articles. We worked together for several months, and I appreciated all his help and advice. I started to feel like a real writer. Then, one afternoon, the phone rang.
“This is the producer of the PTL Club, and we would like to fly you down to Charlotte to appear on the show.”
“The PTL Club. We saw your article, and we’d like you to appear as a guest expert on depression. You’ll have twenty-minutes on live, national television to say anything you want. Let me give you the details.”
By the time the conversation ended, I was sitting under my desk with the phone clutched in both hands. The PTL Club had recently been rocked by scandal and disgrace, so I was understandably skittish about fame. I was also unsure about my ability or my credentials for such a public stage. I still can’t remember if I refused right away or if I had to call back and decline. I only knew I wasn’t an expert on anything, and I had no business pretending I was.
A few more offers came after that from radio stations and media outlets. For the first time in my starry-eyed visions of Being-a-Writer, I understood a little about the weight of responsibility involved. After talking to trusted leaders, I came to the conclusion I was not ready for prime time. I needed to grow as a person, as a Christian, and as a writer.
After that, I found great fulfillment in writing for a local audience. I’m still not sure I made all the right choices back then. I regret letting some of those opportunities go. But, twenty years later, I felt God nudge me back toward a freelance career. I’d been taking some baby steps in that direction, and I wondered if it was too late. Did I really have what it would take? Would God and publishing both give me a second chance to pursue the dream?
My husband and I had recently moved to an intentional Christian community in rural Missouri. We were forty-five minutes away from the nearest Starbucks and miles from anyone in the publishing world. But the folks gathering in our small town were an eclectic bunch. Among them was a former PLO freedom fighter who had come to Jesus. And he was writing a book. More precisely, he was telling his story to a professional writer who would shape it into a book. The writer’s name was Dean Merrill. And that is how, in the middle of a cornfield, decades after he gave me my first break as a writer, Mr. Merrill walked into my office and shook my hand.
I felt a little like a teenager meeting John, Paul, and Ringo, but I held it together. Mr. Merrill recalled amazing details from the time we had worked together and some of the articles I had written. He even knew where I had lived in those days. “I’m surprised you can remember that after all this time,” I said.
He smiled. “Of course I remember you. Editors work with a lot of writers, and we keep track of the good ones.”
I’m not sure God sent Dean Merrill to our little town just to encourage me, but it certainly worked that way. I signed up for a writing course to hone my skills and started seeing articles published right away. Last fall, twenty-five years after I turned down the PTL Club, CrossRiver published my first novel, Thirty Days to Glory. I think I’m ready now.
Kathy Nickerson writes from her home in rural Missouri, where she lives with her husband of forty years. They are the parents of four children who grew up to become their best friends and who have given them thirteen grandchildren, so far.
Kathy’s writing credits include magazines such as Discipleship Journal, Angels on Earth, Focus on the Family, Proto, and Kyria.com. Some of her stories have also been published in collected works by Bethany House and Guideposts Books. Her novel, Thirty Days to Glory, was published by CrossRiver in 2013 and named Fiction Book of the Year by the Christian Small Publishers Association.