Getting Your Own Life
What I want …
I’m over-the-top happy and honored to have you here. My hope is that you find support and a safe community like I’ve received from you, my readers. I also hope we’ll figure out together how to live our own lives while making memories with our people.
Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, my tagline “getting your own life while loving the people in it” was set in motion two decades ago. My 13-year-old daughter gave me a gift box for my 40th birthday. She decorated it with puff paint and filled the box with trinkets, glitter, and a purple piece of construction paper that said “Life.”
I kept her gift all these years as a reminder of what I wanted.
Who I am …
I’m an award-winning writer with hundreds of published articles in dozens of national and regional publications. The list includes LifeWay magazines, Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine, and This Old House magazine.
I’ve written about daytrips, home improvement, South Carolina’s lake shorelines, fancy homes in Upstate South Carolina with theaters, wine cellars, and two kitchens, dogsitting tips, chefs and pimento cheese, a fellow who shot off cannons as a hobby, and a grandmother whose grandson died of SIDS. Now I’m writing about getting your own life while loving the people in it.
The reason? My love affairs with people left me too busy, too sad, too excited, too involved, too afraid, too distracted, and too tired to pay attention to how I felt and what I wanted.
It sounds simple enough, but too often we shift our focus and say, “They’re my life.” All the while, we know there is more to us than the people we married, the people we birthed and raised, and the people we call friends. Getting our own lives does not lessen our love for them. In fact, living our lives enriches our relationships.
How I got here …
I attended graduate school for counseling, not English or Journalism. A writing career was not on my radar. I planned to sit in an office most of the day and advise people about their problems. That was, until I ended up in conversation after conversation with family and friends, acquaintances, and total strangers who out-of-the-blue said, “You should write about that.”
The message came so often and in such strange ways that I eventually listened. The problem was, I only knew how to write research papers, not stories.
A much longer version of my journey (and tips about how to learn to write stories of your own) appears on a blog post I wrote on November 22, 2014 entitled “Write Along Beside Me.”
While Loving the People In It
The people who helped …
So many fellow writers proved what I’ve often heard, “Writing is one profession in which we help our competitors get ahead.”
Lyn Riddle, freelance writer for publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Newsweek, and Readers Digest, was my first mentor, my first editor, and the first person to publish one of my articles.
I drove five hours one-way to attend Lyn’s six-week writing course offered in Greenville, South Carolina where she worked as editor for three newspapers. I figured if anyone could teach me to write for publications, it’d be someone who wrote for The New York Times. When she didn’t publish me first go round, I took her course again. It worked. She ran my article about Mennonite cooking, offered me a weekly column in all three papers, and introduced me to other editors who picked up my stories.
Lyn said, “I love it that you are pitching stories (good ones) like crazy. You’re the first freelancer I’ve worked with who has the talent, curiosity, and persistence to make a living at this.”
Author of dozens of books, Michelle Medlock Adams presented at the first big conference I attended, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. After hearing Michelle speak, I signed up to meet with her and asked if she’d mentor me. I was so naïve to ask. She was equally gracious when she let me know she didn’t have time. However, she did say I could email her if I had questions. After I took her up on her offer (often), she offered me the first spot in her newly launched mentoring program. Her writing tips, tricks, and teachings landed me writing gigs with national publications.
Michelle said, “Kim, I love your article. I was so moved – I mean “tears in my eyes” moved because it’s exactly what every mom of teens wants – coffee shop moments. OK, I think you’re onto something. Anyway, yes, I love it and I think the editor will love it, too. Celebrate!!!”
Rene Holt, former editor of LifeWay’s Mature Living magazine, took time to talk and send written feedback in spite of her hectic schedule. She was one of the first editors to give me a chance in a national magazine.
Rene said, “I had a chance to read the article this week. I’m very pleased! Thanks so much for your work and I’ll look forward to doing another article in the future.”
The people I hung around …
My husband John and I had dinner with author Jerry B. Jenkins and his wife at the same writing conference where I met Michelle. Jerry, a New York Times best-selling author with 190 books to his name, was the keynote speaker. After the couple circled tables several times and didn’t find their assigned seats among the crowd, they joined the two of us across the dining hall. When John told him I had an article published that week in a LifeWay magazine, Jerry graciously congratulated me and asked about my writing.
A few years later, I won first place for devotional writing in his Christian Writers Guild Word Weavers Writing Contest.
My second claim to fame was showing up on Google Images in the middle of Jim Henson and The Muppets. I’m sure had I met him in person, he would have been gracious too, as well as entertaining.
My third best story about fame and fortune is joining Hope*Writers, an online writers group. Every Tuesday, the group offers a live training better than Tuesdays with Morrie. I’ve met well-known and inspirational people like authors John Blase and Marion Roach Smith. I feel like old friends by the end of a session.
The people I love most …
Here’s where the screen gets blurry and I fumble my writing. There aren’t words BIG enough to tell how I feel about my family. John and I eloped 40 years ago in 1978. We vowed to hang in here for better or worse and we have. I’m grateful, again beyond words, that God’s grace saved us from ourselves and saved our marriage.
Our son and daughter are one of the better parts, as well as their spouses. As for our grandchildren … oh, now I can’t see to type at all. John and I ask daily, “What’d we do to deserve them?”
Most of my writing is inspired by family. We can’t love them too much, but we can get too involved. I did just that with my husband and kids, which is the reason God picked me up from where I was (slap in the middle of everyone’s business) and set me on a “write” path. It took a lot for me to let go of them and pay attention to my own life – a near divorce, life-threatening depression, and physical and emotional distance from my grown children.
I wanted to pry instead of pray. Advise instead of advocate. And fix everything instead of feel my feelings until a friend said …
Your family will get better when you get better.
I found this to be true for every bit of life we nurture, every emotion we honor, every relationship we show up for. Life gets better when we get better. This is my tagline turned lifeline – Getting Your Own Life While Loving the People In It.