who have been called according to his purpose.
I was sitting in Dose, pining over a story I wanted to write, but had no where to publish. Deb Pretkis slipped into a chair next to me for a minute and I told her all about the story: how the family had three generations of military service; how both sons have deployed to afghanistan; how one son was injured there badly—so badly that it ended his Army career.
“Next week is Veteran’s Day, Claire!” She said, whipping her wet hair around and pushing her chair in. “You need to pitch this pronto. But get to the point. I got bored when you were telling me everything. I need to be able to read this in my car, like a text message. Hit the highlights, and get out. Tell them they have to have this story, and you’re the best one to write it. Okay, I gotta get outta here.” With that, she slipped out the door and waved goodbye.
She was chastising and encouraging me at the same time. Don’t be a sissy—send the pitch.
So I did.
The next thing I knew I was on an airplane to Boston, heading to interview Captain Kyle Snook and his family—with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to write for the Christian Science Monitor. Though the story was going to be “on spec” (writer-speak for they’re only going to print it if it’s perfect), I had this gut feeling that it was going to happen.
Though I knew no one in Boston, I made the decision to go for a week. Do the interviews. Explore the city. Write the story. Meet the editor. Hope for the best.
It wasn’t easy. One day, sitting in Davis Square coffee shop, I wrote and re-wrote the first paragraph for two hours. When I sent the first draft in, the editor wrote back a 3-page e-mail full of questions I’d yet to answer in the feature. At that point, paralyzing insecurity and fear raised its ugly head. “What if I can’t do this?” “Who am I to be writing a feature story about a veteran?” “What if this is no good?” “What if they don’t print it?” …. Why am I even here?
Though frustrated, scared, and lonely after five days in the snow by myself—I got back on the horse that night, and worked into the wee hours of the morning, re-interviewing, re-thinking and re-writing. The next day, I sent in draft number two, and got on a train to meet the editor.
Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor printed the story: On Veteran’s Day, the greatest wound for many is loss of purpose.
I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that Patricia Barber (a high-school enemy turned adult life-saver) would let me stay in her apartment for three days. I can’t believe Kyle Snook would share his heart-wrenching story with someone like me. I can’t believe that Caton McKenna and Lizzie Wright would let me sleep on their futon for five nights. I can’t believe the Christian Science Monitor would publish my writing. I can’t believe my friends would stop and read it.
But they did.