One thing I’ve learned about God and Christian writers is that we need to live the story before we can write about it. Unless we live it, struggle through it, fall on our knees before him and seek his strength, we don’t have a story to write!
Some authors take those lessons and put them into a children’s book of hope, or values.
Some weave lessons learned through fictional plots, slipping godly concepts into the readers’ minds.
I journalled my lessons as they were happening. Mom had dementia. She and I had never been friends, but God positioned me to be the one to care for her. It was not an easy time, but it sure was a God time.
My story about Mom and my struggles as her caregiver became the topic of many blog posts as we navigated the convoluted reality of dementia. My journal eventually grew into a book. It fit the Word Alive Press contest criteria, so I tidied up the manuscript and sent it off. In my mind, I was closing a chapter by completing the project.
Ask anyone these days, and they’ll agree. Dementia and the accompanying caregiver shortage qualify as hot topics.
When I was living it, I wasn’t thinking of hot topics and opportunity. But once my book, The Reluctant Caregiver, was published through the WAP 2014 Non-Fiction contest, the results of hot-topic writing exploded. Doors didn’t just open. People actually reached out and dragged me through them.
As an introvert, I have to be honest and say it hasn’t been easy. I’m not an ambitious person. Being front and centre isn’t what I’d call my comfort zone. It’s only with God that I’ve been able to manage the past couple of years. I have been stretched, but he’s been faithful.
I posted a blog titled, Caregiving – My Unpopular Opinion. Who knew that magazines planning an edition on a particular topic have researchers who surf the net looking for opinion pieces with differing approaches? Alberta Views contacted me and asked permission to use my blog post in their edition on Health Care in Alberta.
WAP sent out press releases for my book, as part of their promotion. Insight Television picked it up as a hot topic and I had the privilege of being their guest in an hour long live interview, with call-in listeners asking questions, no less! (Yes, I had a lot of prayer coverage for that event!)
Somewhere in there I hooked up with Hope Stream Radio, and began as a weekly contributor to their programming, my little spot being called Not Me, Lord! (Yes, I’m reluctant in all aspects of my life.)
I donated a copy of my book to the Alberta Caregivers Association, for their new resource library. Next thing I knew, they’d provided my name as a speaker on caregiving and dementia. Through that connection I’ve spoken to medical students, doctors, health care professionals, and even sat as a panellist for a Town Hall meeting with the federal election candidates in my riding, presenting, you guessed it, the caregiver perspective on home care standards and caregiver supports.
One of those speaking engagements caught the attention a doctor who then took a stroll through my blog, bobbijunior.com. She sent one of the posts to Alberta Doctor’s Digest, who contacted me and asked if I’d expand it as an article on caregiver burnout. Writing is easier than speaking so I agreed. Being a storyteller, I made my points in the form of a story. After I sent it in, I began second-guessing myself. I mean, the audience was to be educated doctors! Was my story too juvenile for their esteemed magazine? It turns out it wasn’t. A few weeks later the publisher contacted me and requested a YouTube interview to be put online. YouTube? Goodness gracious! I survived it though, and now people can Google my name and see me in an interview.
Hot topic blog posts, hot topic interviews, hot topic opinions that don’t fit the norm will likely get you noticed. If, like me, you prefer to snuggle into your writing nook and wallow in crafting words, stay away from hot topics. The two just don’t go together.
But if the Lord’s calling you to live, to learn, and to write on something that’s on everyone’s mind, I guess you’d better listen and follow through. He’s got a plan, and, like me, you just might be part of it.
Bobbi Junior writes and speaks about caregiving through two life-altering experiences: a devastating accident which left her teenage daughter paralyzed, and the chaos, victory, and humour with which she helped her mother withstand the encroaching grip of dementia. Bobbi lives and works in Edmonton, Alberta. Visit her blog at bobbijunior.com.