March 3, 2022

A Gift That Keeps On Giving

                               Melody Carlson

I always loved writing as a child and young adult, but never dreamed I could ever be a published author. Wasn’t that for someone more qualified, dignified . . . someone in a tweedy jacket with leather elbow patches and a sweet-smelling pipe? Despite encouragement from teachers who even called me a ‘gifted writer,’ and some early ‘successes’ in writing, I never considered myself a real writer. And yet I continued to write. A love of words and storytelling seemed to drive me. Whether it was journaling, corresponding, creating a PTA newsletter, or sending an opinion piece to the newspaper, I was always writing. Was it a gift?

Eventually, a deep burning desire to seriously write took over, and I joined a writers’ critique group. In my spare time, I began to pen (with a real pen and a yellow legal pad) a novel. I soon moved up to an electronic typewriter and, later on, a DOS word processing computer—weren’t those the days? But early in the game, probably due to my overly packed schedule, I discovered I could write fast. Was that a good thing, a bad thing, or maybe even a gift?

Before long, I’d completed half a dozen novels for tweens, teens, and women. My writing time, while working and raising kids, was sparse, but every chance I got I was hammering out a new story. I also spent a fair amount of time (and money) copying and mailing out manuscripts. That was back in the days before internet. And, no kidding, I received enough rejection letters to wallpaper my bathroom! I still have a boxful of them somewhere—they definitely didn’t feel like a gift!

But something finally clicked, and I began to receive book contracts instead of rejections. That was more than 250 books and nearly thirty years ago and yet, today, I’m just as amazed as ever. I still wonder how this all happened. But I’m grateful for it—and I was eventually able to admit that writing, for me, was a gift.

One of the things I love most about writing is that I can never conquer it. I had a number of other diverse occupations before becoming a fulltime writer, but I’d quickly become proficient in those jobs. In other words, they felt conquerable to me. The learning curve would fade, the challenge would flee, and a job I’d enjoyed would become boring. Not so with writing. I could work hard, study the craft diligently, and practice daily, but there was always something new to learn. And since I love to learn, it’s been like a gift to me.

I love knowing that I’ll never be the best writer! It forces me to keep going, keep chasing the story, keep developing new characters, keep digging deeper, and best of all keep learning. Lately I’ve been studying up on screenplay writing and adaptation. I love the idea of getting stories into film. I’ve got a number of projects in the works and even had a Hallmark movie in 2019. And an adaptation (The Happy Camper) in production stages now. That really feels like a gift!

I’ve already adapted my newest book, Looking for Leroy, into a script and think it would be a fun film. It’s a road-trip story about Brynna Phillips—a woman who’s had some disappointments and in need of a second chance at life and love. While Brynna and her friend Jan camp their way from Oregon to California, Jan challenges Brynna to seek out an old high-school beau who might live in Sonoma County. But all Bryanna can remember is that 1) his first name is Leroy, 2) he was a very special guy, and 3) his family owned a vineyard in Sonoma. But that was three decades ago! Meanwhile Leroy has challenges of his own. A widower who’s raised three strong-willed daughters and trying to recover his vineyard from wildfires and a bad economy, is experiencing some middle-aged loneliness.

When Leroy’s and Brynna’s worlds collide, it gets interesting . . . and dicey. But it also provides a fun romp through a gorgeous old-world vineyard! When I wrote this story, during Covid, I got to travel vicariously with these characters as well as learn a bit about vineyards and wineries. What a fun excursion that I hope readers will enjoy as well! And that little getaway is just one more gift that comes with writing—and why I’ll probably never give it up!

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales
of more than seven million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young
adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career
Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books,
including Finding Alice, and her novel All Summer Long was made into a Hallmark
movie. She and her husband live in central Oregon. 

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