Toward the end of the dark days of the cult, I was failing around for purpose. A teacher from college, Dr. Van Riper, ran into me at the supermarket and demanded to know why I had three children instead of writing books for children. I had no answer. She'd told me what to do, and I'd ignored her.
I was slowly waking up in these days. God's chosen people were now looking like a bunch of uneducated country folk, plus a bunch of kids that had choked on embracing the future after college. That's when I saw the ad in the newspaper about some group called SCBWI.
Fellow-shipping outside the church was forbidden in a manipulative, oblique way, but this was business. I figured God would give me a pass. I remember heading to that first meeting and feeling so welcome. There were 8 or 9 women and they were so gracious and kind. I remember the first conversation in a long time without having to say praise the Lord or how God was directing me every third word. I also remember KA. She was a real author and the leader of the SCBWI group. Her first picture book had come out but she talked to me like I was a colleague. Bam, I was in the inner circle.
I can not tell you how much KA's leadership meant to me. I tried to keep secret from the church my fraternizing with the world. KA was a Unitarian. That was something I was supposed to fear. Of course, by now, I understood that I was supposed to fear everything, and it was sort of ridiculous and tiring. KA believed in me as a creative person. She never let me feel like I was a little off with my long dresses and three kids in three years. She accepted me just as I was. It was the most Christian thing I'd ever experienced.
I remember being invited to another SCBWI member's house called DC. I had friends outside the church for the first time in almost eight years. I was hanging out with a group of women, totally normal women with varied backgrounds. It was sort of dizzying. I was supposed to have left the world behind, but now I sneaking back into it. Oh, and the big problem? I loved it.
SCBWI became an island of normal in my life. Like Phoenix, I was rising from my ashes. KA tried to convince me to go to Los Angeles for the annual conference. I chickened out, but her encouragement planted a seed in me. KA convinced me to volunteer for events, write letters to editors, and even submit my drawings to the SCBWI Bulletin. My first credit was as an illustrator in the Bulletin. I was so proud. I was engaged in the pursuit of liberty. I had expressed myself. I made $50. It was mind-blowing.
When Tim and I decided to move away the place we had known such tragedy, KA continued to encourage me until I left town. I have no idea if she had any idea of how lost I was, and how much I needed help to become a normal person again. She never said anything when the sorry story of my entire life was reported in the local newspaper. KA encouraged me creatively, commenting on my work and giving me suggestions, and once she sent me a card stating there would be a day when she said she knew me when. She bridged the way for me to absolutely normal. I turned into the funky person I had been before all the religious nonsense. I came to my senses.
Well, this is end of these posts and also time for big news. My blog is moving over to Niume.com. I hope you consider following me an my content there. You will receive updates of posts if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or tumbler.
One of those early drawings. I sent to the Bulletin on a notepad paper, a big no-no. SM bought them anyway.
A quote for your pocket:
My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.
Ezekiel 37: 12b-14