The rest of the presenters are from the West Michigan area, but Ellen is visiting us from the wilds of Wisconsin. If you aren’t familiar with her writing, read on.
We did the following Q&A over email:
Can you give us a 2-3 sentence autobiography?
I write and speak about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. I am passionate about sharing the real -sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly – aspects of faith, disability, parenting, and adoption.
Which authors have influenced your writing?
Jerry Spinelli! I love him, love his books, I laugh out loud, I fight back tears, and he writes the type of books I want to write someday.
Leif Enger and his book Peace Like a River. I can read that book just for the pleasure of good writing, I savor the words, close my eyes and repeat some of the sentences. His writing is beautiful.
Markus Zuzak and his book The Book Thief. Another book I read again and again for the craft of writing. His metaphors are flawless and effortless!
Cec Murphy. You want an author that is honest, open, vulnerable, and willing to show the depths of his heart? That’s Cec Murphy. I am challenged by his writing, and he encourages me to be brave.
What current projects are you working on?
An ebook for my website subscribers. Simple project, a compilation of posts.
A memoir. I was not qualified to parent a child with a disability, but God had other plans and my youngets daughter was born with Down syndrome. I wrestled with God, after all, my husband was a pastor and we had given our lived to Him, so why my baby? Thankfully I saw God’s good gift in my daughter, and my husband and I adopted another child with a disability, a little girl with cerebral palsy. Disability now is apart of our life, our church, our future.
A young adult novel. Confession: I want to write fiction. I have several novels in my head and the story outlines written down. I finally started one of them last November (NaNoWriMo). I hope to finish it this year.
Some of my projects are monthly commitments with different publishers. They pay the bills..or not, but I like writing for them anyway, I consider it an honor to write with the people I write.
Why do you write what you write?
I write because I want to offer hope, courage, and community to whomever is reading.
I write because I don’t want the hurting, struggling, or broken to think that they are alone in this journey of life.
And since you asked, I have a post about it on my blog, but I will be talking about this at the conference, so if you read it, spoiler alert!
Can you give us a brief summary of your Jot presentation?
“The Gift of Vulnerability”
Vulnerability is a gift you give to your readers, it really is. It is scary because most of us like to keep the most personal, the most vulnerable, hidden from others. Being vulnerable opens you up to criticism, but it is worth it. It is the reason I write.
Henri Nouwen says, “The most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our being is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others.”
And do you have any advice for people interested in writing?
- Have others read what you write, it’s part of being a writer, you need the feedback, so you might as well do it now. Maybe you have a blog, maybe you have close friends read your words and give you feedback, but either way get your words out there.
- Write some more! It’s a craft, it only gets better if you keep practicing.
Excited for JOT!