Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Career or Ministry? by Hope Toler Dougherty

I recently reconnected with a college friend decades after we lost touch. We had such a sweet time of remembering and catching up, and then she said, “Now tell me about your writing career.”

That word career grabbed my attention.

When I think of career, I think of my twenty-something self poised with a Master’s degree in one hand and lots of enthusiasm for teaching college students in the other. Since then, I’ve celebrated several milestone birthdays. You know the ones I mean, right? They end in five or zero. I’m closer to retirement now than I am to that earlier version of myself.

I suppose I do have a career in writing, though. I have business cards and ink pens with my name on them. I have a website, a Facebook author’s page, and a Twitter account, which I’m still trying to figure out.

But, honestly, my writing seems more like a ministry to me. I began seriously pursuing my writing journey as my children began graduating from high school. Teaching no longer appealed to me, so I looked to writing to keep busy and sane while my day job as a mother-of-children-at-home diminished.

This journey has kept my mind on interesting characters, has introduced me to new language—platform, tweets, one sheets, pitching—has taught me about myself and about God, and has kept me from wallowing in my tomb-like empty nest.

The ministry isn’t only for me, however. The main character in Irish Encounter is a widow who learns to embrace the second part of her life after her husband dies. I’ve heard from several readers who either because of divorce or the death of a spouse have faced a life different from the one they’d planned. The story speaks to them about hope and anticipation and new ideas. They’ve talked to me about considering new plans because of Ellen’s journey in Irish Encounter.

Fiction is pretty cool if it helps people see that God always has possibilities for us. Jeremiah 29:11 promises that He has plans for us, plans to prosper not to harm us.

Possibilities.

What about you? Is God offering you possibilities you didn’t see coming? Is He preparing you for a second, or third, or fourth act? Are you willing to take a step out onto a new path?

I’m so glad I took His hand when He invited me on my writing path. On what new journey is He inviting you?


~~~~~~


Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her publications include three novels, Rescued Hearts, Irish Encounter, and Mars…With Venus Rising, as well as nonfiction articles. A member of ACFW, RWA, and SinC, she writes for SeriousWriter.com. She and her husband live in North Carolina and enjoy visits with their two daughters and twin sons. Visit her at hopetolerdougherty.com.

13 comments:

  1. Hope, welcome to Seriously Write! I'm so glad that Sandy invited you to join us and it was so good to see you again last week!

    I consider my writing to be a ministry since when I began, I felt called to write. (Even it I have business cards.) ;) Great post!

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    1. Thanks so much for having me back! Yes, I feel called to write, too. Maybe we can get together next May at Ridgecrest for BRMCWC!

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    2. Hope, you're up and at it early this morning! I guess I don't need to send an email! :) Glad to have you on SW and I hope to meet you again at one of the upcoming ACFW-NC meetings.

      I can really understand the career/age thing. It does seem odd to call it a career at my season in life. (I like that better than saying age! :) ) My writing is a business, but I also consider it a ministry, probably more to Christians than non-Christians, but I know God can use it however He wants.

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    3. Yes, I'm usually up early! I like season better than age, too! Thanks for having me today!

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  2. I relate so much with where you are, especially the paragraph about this journey. I know my writing and speaking are my ministry. The challenge is to also earn enough from it to be free enough to have the time to do it.

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    1. I'm so glad my husband's job makes it possible for me to eat while I write!

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  3. Hope, it was nice seeing you here. I started writing in secret when our son was 9. I was working part time and discovering Christian Fiction was what drew me to writing. Oh I wrote poems etc. as a kid but books by Janette Oke, Jan Karon and Susan May Warren stirred an interest to attempt fiction stories.

    After my first writing conference in 2010 I thought this is something I could do past retirement as well. I wish I had an English degree to make it easier. I should treat it more like a business as far as hours at work and I would be further along. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. That 2010 BRMCWC was the first writers' conference I ever attended. We can keep up with how old our friendship is!

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  4. Great post, Hope! Welcome! I've followed a somewhat similar track with my "career." Like you, I consider it a ministry, and fiction writing is leading me places I never knew I'd go. I've also celebrated quite a few of those big "5" and "0" birthdays! :) I look forward to reading your coming posts!

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    1. Thanks so much, Melinda. I'm enjoying my fiction path, too!

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  5. Hope, thank you for sharing your insights. I believe writing can be a career and a ministry. I believe people are called to write and God equips them with the skills necessary to minister through their words. One of my favorite reader letters came from a grandmother who said her granddaughter battled the same disease my character's daughter was going through. The reader went on to tell me how the hope in my story refilled her own well. I believe God offers me new possibilities with each new book, and it's up to me to put my hand in His and walk with Him to discover the new places He wants to take me...as a writer and as His daughter.

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  6. Yes, absolutely, Lisa. I love how God gives us a calling, gives us the skills to work at that calling, and then blesses us and others through that calling. What an AWESOME God we serve!

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  7. “...have faced a life different from the one they’d planned.”

    What if your life is better than the one you planned/feared?

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