From the Front Seat of a Roller Coaster

I love roller coasters.

Ones quick as cheetahs and tall as Minneapolis’ sky scrapers. I love coasters with hairpin turns and rolling corkscrews. Ones that fling you upside down and plunge you through shadowy tunnels.

Can you think of anything more suited to an aspiring writer?

My roller coaster ride as a writer began simply enough.

ANDERSON, BRENDA_20I grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota—the best possible place to grow a family—as the third of seven children. I was raised to appreciate the physical work of tossing bales and chasing cows, and then relax in hushed moments under skies lit with dancing northern lights.

My daughter says I was spoiled. Perhaps I was. We had a sledding hill, all to ourselves, right across the county road. We had a private skating rink—a pond surrounded by rolling fields of corn, wheat, and hay. Hay lofts were fertile ground for imagination. We built hay forts, swung like Tarzan from one pile of hay to another. We even pretended we were rock stars, singing and dancing among the bales to Grease.

Amidst all that, I always wanted to write. Whether working, walking with my German shepherd, or biking over sloping hills, stories continuously meandered through my head. Some even stayed.

But, I always knew, writing would never pay the bills. I believed writing was only a dream, and I needed to live in reality.

So, I enrolled in college and eventually received my degree in Literature/Communications. I found a job, married a beautiful man (we recently celebrated our 22nd Anniversary), had three children (who’ve since blossomed into teenagers) and accepted the full-time job of mothering. A position with no salary, but plenty of hugs and “I love you” benefits.

Then the children all went to school. I had a choice: get a job at the new bookstore in town, and actually get paid for working with books … or listen to that unending voice in my head telling me to record this story that lived in my thoughts.

I listened.

Four months later I had fulfilled a dream by completing a novel. Right then, I could have jumped off the writing roller coaster, and I would have been happy.

But, again, God had other ideas. He nudged me to attend conferences, read writing books, and join groups. I edited, revised, and within two years, completed two additional manuscripts.

At conferences, agents/editors/published authors consistently tell me I write well. Some say my stories won’t sell, while others say “someone will birth this story.” (Actual quote) I’ve been told my characters are too messed up, that they all need counseling, they should never get together, and that I should rewrite my story and take out all the problems. (ouch) The next person says, I will be published someday.  Help!

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably ridden this same coaster.

S4010049 - CopyThe neat thing about roller coasters is that, though they never travel a straight path, they do eventually arrive at the station. It may not seem like you’ll reach your destination when you’re plunging down into a lightless tunnel of rejection and hurtful criticism, but if you’re on the track God chose for you, I guarantee you’ll climb out of that hole. The ride always leads back to the light, and that’s exactly where I’m heading.

As I said, I love roller coasters, and I choose not to get off this roller coaster of writing.

Since I’m staying on, I may as well take the front seat.

Published by

Brenda S. Anderson

Brenda S. Anderson is the author of the gritty Coming Home Series. She writes authentic and life-affirming fiction. Learn more about Brenda at www.BrendaAndersonBooks.com.

22 thoughts on “From the Front Seat of a Roller Coaster”

  1. Hi Brenda!

    You’re making me think twice about my lack of affinity for roller coasters. I’ve tried to avoid them most of my life. They tend to shake you up, leave you breathless and just a little sick . . . but what I have discovered is that at the end, the adrenaline rush is amazing.

    I love your comparison of writing to roller coasters. Perfect! What a ride! (Pun intended, LOL)

    Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to learning more about you and what makes you tick as a writer, as a believer, as a mom, and as a person. Great post!

  2. Hey Brenda,

    I love rollercoasters. Though I’m an Arky now, and proud to be, I grew up ten miles from Six Flags over GA. I spent most of my summers there, since I had older cousins. And spent many hours in line to ride the Great American Scream Machine, at the time it was the largest roller coaster in the world. I got stuck on top of the highest hill once and on top of Stone Mountain in a glass observation building (Ooh, that could be a book), during an electrical storm, both times on my birthday. Anyway, my hubby who hates roller coasters and anything to do with amusement parks sticks to his vow to never go anywhere up high with me on my birthday.

    Needless to say, roller coasters are dear to my heart and the perfect analogy for the writing journey. On writing, Brenda is great at it. I’ve read one entire manuscript and if you fix the characters and take out the problems, where’s the conflict? I’m in the: This will be published someday camp.

  3. Brenda, I get scared just listening to stories about roller coasters. I’m a chicken, but on the ride all the same. I’ll let you sit in front if I get to sit in the back and the screams you will hear mainly will be mine.

    So glad to be here with you.

  4. Hi Brenda

    I’m like Dawn, I haven’t been on a roller coaster for probably 45 years! But I love reading about the exhilaration they give…to others!

    Another thing I love reading about are “messed up” people! So, just keep plugging away. I know God will provide a publisher for you at just the right time.

    Lynn

  5. Great start; great writing. I look forward to seeing you at MCWG this fall. What kind of responses have you had after the Colorado Christian Writers Conference we attended last May? I have both my manuscripts out at requests of an editor and an agent, but no response yet. Check me out on Sharon and Mary’s blog that came out yesterday.
    http://www.StartingFromScratchBooks.com.
    Yours in Christ, Connie

  6. My favorite amusement ride is the park bench! Thanks for sharing your analogy of writing and roller coasters.

    Another great thing about the roller coaster of writing is that we’re not on the ride alone. We have each other to scream with & hang on to, and as long as we stay on the tracks God constructs for us, we’ll arrive together at the peaceful rest that awaits us at the end. (Kind of like your Minnesota farm, huh?)

  7. Regina – I love your analogy of how coasters shake you up & leave you breathless. That’s so true. Interesting how that can be applied to writing too. Go ahead, give coasters another try. You’re right, the adrenaline rush is amazing!

    Shannon – Oh how fun to have lived close to a Six Flags. We spent 2 days this summer at Six Flags Great American in Illinois. I’m lucky, the family loved it. We’ll have to get together & ride coasters someday. And thanks for “warm fuzzies” on my writing. Remember, it’s you, Lorna & Jerri that have brought out the best writer in me.

    Dawn – I’d love to hear you screaming behind me. tee hee. One of the fun things about coasters is that, though they can be frightening, you don’t go alone.

    Linda – we’ll just have to get you off that park bench & give a little one a try. Like you said, God’s holding our hand the whole way.

  8. Connie – thanks for pointing out your entry on the Starting From Scratch (When You’re Single Again)site. Everyone should check it out. Connie’s an amazing writer.

    I’m so glad God introduced you to me this past spring. You are a true inspiration!

  9. Real roller coasters and I have a bad relationship. I stopped breathing on one once. My best friend spent the whole time saying, “Are you all right?” I didn’t pass out, but I came close.

    People who are acrophobic should really think twice about peer pressure.

    I did like Magic Mountain in Orlando. The whole place was dark and I couldn’t see how high I was.

    I also like the magic of your writing, Brenda, and I know I’m going to see your name on the front of book someday. Great analogy, and I’m glad we’re all facing the ups, downs, and unexpected turns together.

    BTW, my book three is about a roller coaster. I may need your expertise.

  10. Lorna – Believe me, I fear high places too. The worst part of a coaster ride is when you’re being dragged up that first hill, with the chain clanking beneath you, & nothing but air off to the side. I hate it. But I’ll gladly suffer through that fear in order to enjoy the rest of the ride.

    Now, I’m totally excited about your next book, too. You’ve managed to write about my favorite activities: water parks, baseball & coasters. How fun!

    Thanks for being such an encourager & for helping me be a better writer. You’re a blessing!

    Brenda

  11. Brenda,

    I told myself years ago that I would never step into a roller coaster again. Thanks for making me realise I’ve been sitting on one ever since LOL.

    In my opinion, messed up characters are what make a story interesting. Sooner or later, preferably sooner, someone will wake up and realise your stories are little gems. Hang in there!

    Marlene

  12. Hi Brenda,
    Well I am so very comforted in knowing that God gifts each of us differently. I HATE roller coasters but I love to read about them and the journey others are on while riding them! I am your #2 fan (cuz I know Marv is #1) so keep sharing your roller coaster rides with me! And I will keep reading about them and thoroughly enjoying them!

    KJ<

  13. Thanks, KJ! I so appreciate your continuous encouragement, your honesty, & how you live out your life of faith. I’ve been blessed abundantly with your friendship. 🙂

  14. Brenda,
    glad we can read your writings until they get published. Great analogy of the roller coaster though I have never been one to purposefully scare myself. Life tends to make other plans so I am hanging on for dear life!
    Blessings to you and your writings,
    D

  15. Thanks, Denise. How true that life makes other plans, but that’s what makes it exciting … although sometimes we could use a little less excitement.

    I truly value your support & friendship.

  16. If it weren’t for that northern lights thing, I’d say you could be an Alabama girl! Isn’t growing up in the country the greatest? And while I like to visit the big cities, when I go to sleep at night, it’s the peaceful quietness of crickets and tree frogs that I want as my lullaby.

    I’m glad you’ve gotten on this coaster ride of a writing journey. I can’t wait to see what your station at the end looks like. I have a feeling it is going to be wonderful!

    Kim

  17. Kim,I agree, growing up in the country is the best. I wish I could’ve offered my children the same, but someday I’ll have my little cabin on a Lake Superior bluff. Then the northern lights will really be fantastic.

  18. I grew up in the country – Wildcat Road, to be exact – and now I live right smack dab in the middle of a very small town on a main road. Oh, you can still hear the crickets somewhat, but it’s never completely dark, and our back yard backs up to FIVE back yards. What WERE we thinking? LOL

  19. Hey Brenda,
    Nice introduction–I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my grandparents farmed and they lived less than a mile away from us. Reading your blog reminded me of the fun I had jumping off the barn loft into bales of hay!

    Good luck with your writing–live your dreams! God gave you a big talent and wants you to use it.

    Rita

  20. Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for sharing. You have great talent and I know that you are moving in the right direction! You are blessed in many ways.

    What I miss from the country most is seeing the Northern Lights. We saw them so often that I didn’t realize how special it was!

    Carol

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