Three years ago, I was at the end of a multi-book contract. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write next. I only knew I wanted to write something different. I didn’t feel lost; I felt blank. My muse was restless. If I wasn’t going to write another book immediately, I needed a plan.
My dear friend, author and radio host Michelle Phillips, says: “When you don’t know what to do, go serve someone else.” I took her advice, and decided to serve young adults who dreamed of becoming working writers. Working with a public middle school in Atlanta, I founded a Young Authors program. My goal was to teach them everything I knew about writing. (After that first class, I’d have to wing it.)
Walking into middle school for our first meeting, I felt slightly nauseas. Middle school was not a season of my life I wanted to revisit. Yet here I was, about to enter that world again. I feared I still wouldn’t be cool. I feared the kids would dismiss everything I said. Or worse, that I wouldn’t say the right thing at all.
Within five minutes, I realized that they were far less interested in what I had to say, than in my willingness to listen. I ditched my lesson plan and followed their lead.
Now, every week, I listen to their stories. I listen to their dreams and nightmares. I get to be the adult who says, “There is beauty and power and truth in your story. No one can tell it but you. Ignore the critics. Ignore the bullies. Tell the world what you see.” What an incredible privilege. And my muse? She’s never happier than when a kid dares to read a deeply personal tale. Witnessing an act of courage is powerful stuff.
I don’t worry about whether any of these kids will go on to write professionally. I am sinking an anchor deep into their souls, so that when life’s storms hit, and they are pushed off course, something deep within will draw them home. They will remember who they are, and they will remember that truth is a powerful ally. Most of all, they will remember that their stories and their dreams, they matter.
To all of us.
Ginger Garrett is the author of numerous novels that explore the lives of historical women (including Reign, Desired, Chosen, Wolves Among Us, and In the Arms of Immortals) as well as several nonfiction books. Ginger also frequently works on TV and radio, when not busy teaching writing, chasing her dogs, and corralling her three children. She is widely recognized as being one of CBA’s best writers, and MacGregor Literary is proud to represent her work.