A Desire and a Dream
The joyous chime of church bells floated over the river, through the forest, and across the meadows to my home near the little logging town of Darrington, Washington. Dressed in our best, Dad, Mom, my two brothers and I climbed into our old car and followed the summons. One of my favorite hymns was “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” I sang at the top of my lungs and meant it—but secretly hoped God would call me serve at home, not as a missionary in some distant land!
The desire to some day write a book started when I learned to read by kerosene lamplight in a home furnished with love but without electricity or running water. My first “sale” came from writing to a radio program. Even at age eleven, I was in love with cowboys and the Old West—note the word pronto in my letter. (I knew from reading Zane Grey’s exciting books it meant immediately!)
June 3, 1947
Dear Free For All,
I’ve heard of the “Gang,” as you call them, and if they can’t guess this something is wrong. Because, it’s easy as pie.
Most of the children around here have bicycles but I don’t have. Daddy goes up every day to fall timber (as we live in the heart of the timber country) and by the time he gets home, the store is closed. But, if I had a bicycle, I could go to town and bring thing [sic] home in the day-time. Although there are lots of trees around here, money doesn’t grow on trees and neither do bicycles.
I’ve written before and so, Free For All, if you don’t send me a bicycle pronto, I’m going to spend more money in postage writing to you than the bicycle costs.
If I won it, I would be the happiest girl in the Universe. There is one chance in a million and I’m taking it.
I wrote in on a Quiz once and I won some money [$1.00 from a Sunday School paper] so I’m signing myself the Lucky Girl, Colleen Reece.
They read my letter on the air and sent me a gorgeous cream and blue bicycle! Decades later I sold an article containing the actual letter to Writer’s Digest magazine. They titled it “Writing a Bike.” The letter is now included in my Writing Smarter, not Harder, The Workbook Way under the caption: Persistent 11-year-old Wins Bike.
* * *
Time passed. My longing to write a “someday” book grew. However, people from Darrington didn’t become authors. In high school I planned to become a nurse but discovered my heart was too tender. Instead I became a school secretary, then a government secretary. I won honors and praise. I wrote and sold some manuscripts. Then, on an August morning in 1977, I cried, "Lord, why am I spending my time and energy as a secretary when I can make a difference with my writing?”
A daring thought followed: What if I simply walk off my good-paying government job? There was no guarantee I could make even a modest living writing. Yet I felt as called as surely as the disciples who left all to follow Jesus.
That afternoon I gave notice.
Question of the day: Have you ever won anything?
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