Becoming a writer

Sunny skies above Les Invalides in Paris looks like a God Zoom call.

Accepting the beauty of new territories.

What I like most about writing is the vast landscape my imagination explores. It’s a library of dreams. My mind envisions the real melding with the unreal everywhere I go, including a long-lost memory. In the memory, I am in Bartlett, New Hampshire, thirteen years old with chickenpox, and I have two girlfriends: one back home, her picture temporarily taped to my bed post and a new one in the local school my brothers and I are attending so we can enjoy a month-long ski vacation.  

My New Hampshire girlfriend tells me about her family’s summertime lake house and the Loons that make wistful hoots that travel over the lake. My imagination goes wild. Growing up on the ocean, I don’t get to see many lakes and I have never heard anything but seagulls and sandpipers. I know I’ll never get to see her lake or hear the Loons, so my mind goes to work. I write a poem called The Loons, placing my desire in a landscape of my making. 

“When I visited the moon, there lived some loons…” 

As I rediscover my young writing efforts, such as The Loons, I recall the angst of passion intermingled with duty. Passion was superseded by duty (mercifully, creative) through college.

After graduation, I moved to the moon: Los Angeles, where I met plenty of loons and perhaps became one myself. I was living in a greenhouse of ripe ideas. Eager to transform these ideas into skilled narrative, I enrolled in UCLA’s writing program and South Coast Repertory’s playwriting course. This fueled my passion to write. Somewhat hastily I decided to leave a solid career in theme park design.

I moved back east and rented a house on the beach so I could write. Self-doubts filled that place where my imagination lived like a socked in airport. What do I have to say? The others are so much cleverer than me. They have all the answers. This neurosis revealed maintenance was necessary on my inner landscape: Talent needed pruning and emotional issues needed to be uprooted. I journeyed deep inside my heart where God exposed, pruned, and uprooted.

It's been a long journey to Summer Haven, Florida where divine intervention brought me. Countless beach walks have been therapy for my bad writing, self-doubts, and lack of trust. When I felt the silky waves around my feet or saw the sunrise and sunset light in the clouds, I felt victorious.

As a writer I needed a jumpstart. I journaled every morning and worked on writing projects, but without the intention that this was in fact what I was called to do. I know God won’t honor what he’s asked me to do. Believing this simple lie perpetuated the writer’s quarantine I was in. God intervened and showed me the root of the lie: I had lived my life my way and ignored His guidance. I saw myself as a deflated balloon. God saw me as a shiny full balloon, and said, “All you have to do is let me fill you.” 

I shared this balloon story over an unexpected lunch with a stranger, author and illustrator Linda Brandt. She said, “That’s a children’s story! You’ve got to write that book.” God sent her to be my jumpstart: Someone who believed in me. And I heard her. That’s important because before that moment, my self-doubts drowned my ability to hear. Linda has been a patient mentor throughout the writing of Balloon.

This is how I’m becoming a writer: I’m letting God fill me every day—trusting His Spirit, rather than relying upon mine. It’s easier now too, because I am aligned and comfortable writing fiction in the genre of magical realism. The three manuscripts on my desk are Balloon, Venice in Missouri, and Florida Blues, each one a hero’s journey. It’s thrilling to discover there are actual literary terms for things I feel or want to say.

I’m becoming a confident writer with the help of multiple resources, which include: My neighbor and author Skye Taylor, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Florida Chapter, Florida Writers Association, my Inspire Christian critique group, Elizabeth George’s book Write Away, Blake Snyder’s book Save the Cat! and A Novel Idea by several gifted and insightful authors. 

In full disclosure, I still love creating and visiting cool physical environments, but with the eyes and mind of experience. After all, without that experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m grateful that I know what it feels like to master something, namely, how to tell a story visually and make that story come to life in the physical realm. Now, I’m embarking upon the mastery of writing that brings the reader into a realm they’ve never been before and while there enjoying the experience. This is my life’s next chapter: Becoming a writer.


  1. Hi Chris: I’m new to SCBWI this year; have recently published my first children’s picturebook. I’m a late bloomer, a 71 year old Grandma. So happy to have discovered you and your work. where am I able to purchase your work? I think I already know thw answer to that!

    1. Hi Elenor! My apologies, your kind words never got to me via email, so I’m uploading new images of artwork now and saw your comment. I’m going to add the possibility to purchase are on my website. But for now, if you see something, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to sell and ship to you. CONGRATULATIONS by the way on your published picturebook!!!! My aunt, Susan Jeffers was still illustrating in her 70s! Feel free to be in touch via email:

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