Once upon a time, a national security expert decided to become a writer…
For years, I’ve been telling people that I want to become a writer when I grow up–or rather when I grow up for the second time around. In my first adult life, I am an expert on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and teach at the National Defense University (NDU)–cue scary music. And now, I want to be a fiction writer and write political thrillers–cue record scratching music.
In reality, I write all the time for my work. Writing is a part of my daily life. I’ve also managed to write some lengthy nonfiction manuscripts. I’ve edited a couple of books. I’ve written a 500-page dissertation and have even published a few chapters here and there. And yet, I’ve never truly thought of myself as a writer per se. Perhaps because writing is not really my bread and butter–it is an enabler of my career as a national security expert. Or maybe it is because I am not tapping into my imagination the way I had always dreamed I might one day.
I first remember deciding upon my goal of becoming a writer when I was about ten years old. I loved writing so much that I attended summer writing camp at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. This is where I would eventually go to college and major in German (not writing or anything remotely related). I also began writing in journals when I was sixteen or so (boy, those are embarrassing) and have journaled most of my life since then. I have saved every letter ever written to me in a box that I might someday use it as material for my books. I have been waiting 40 years to become a writer.
It was a fall day in 2010, and I was dreaming yet again about becoming a writer. I was sitting on a bench on NDU campus overlooking the fork between the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. All of a sudden, the perfect escape scene came flooding into my head. It was dusk on a brisk fall day. Dr. Morgan Shaw, a young, newly-minted professor at the National War College, raced toward the edge of the river. A stocky man wearing a black leather jacket and torn jeans was chasing her and had cut off her only escape route. He was carrying a gun and looked dangerous. She could feel him getting closer to her, and she realized she had no other choice. She dove off of the embankment wall into the icy, cold water below.
And with that single scene, my protagonist and a vision for my first fiction novel was born–the first in what will be a trilogy of national security thrillers. I decided to begin writing that day–to become a writer as I had dreamed. And I did begin writing. But it was slow going and arduous. And my real life and job got in the way. I was also spending every spare minute involved in missions work for several years. So I wasn’t entirely sure if I was supposed to spend all of my free time on a novel or if it was the right thing to do in this season. It seemed so frivolous when there was so much that needed to be done in this world. The years flew by, and my book did not get written.
In the fall of 2015, I began reading If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities, the latest book by my pastor, Mark Batterson of National Community Church. The title really says it all. And I only needed to read the first chapter to know what I needed to do next. I began working on my novel that day. Okay, so there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that I’m still on chapter one of Mark’s book (sorry!). But the good news is that I have written 65,000 words on The Nuclear Conspiracy in just six months and should have my first draft done this summer. Here’s the premise:
A young, newly-minted professor at a prestigious military university struggles to overcome her difficult past and to break free from the powerful legacy of her family. As Dr. Morgan Shaw begins her new job as a newly-minted professor, she finds herself unwittingly entangled in a political conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government.
I am a writer. Welcome to the beginning of my journey and thank you for reading my first ever blog post. Stay tuned for more trials and tribulations along my path toward my dream.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.