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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week thirty-Five: Marilyn Hilton

Pass It On

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1, (NIV)

The new year was still new, and I was determined to keep my resolution to make time to write every day. But, as resolutions go, this was easier said than done. Busyness and doubt had already elbowed into my schedule and clouded my optimism.

While cruising the web, I found the perfect article to bolster my resolve. As if the author knew my need, she listed several ways for writers to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Her words encouraged and motivated me to keep going, so much that I wanted to tell her she’d made a difference in my life. I’d never done anything like that before, however, and I wrestled with the idea until I decided to toss aside my normal reserve and send her an email.

She replied within hours, saying my email had encouraged her because she’d been wondering if her monthly columns were making any difference to readers. She then suggested I join an online writers’ group and attend writers’ conferences, among other ideas. This busy stranger, who had reached a level in her career that I strived for, had taken the time to turn around and offer me a hand up. It made me pause.

I took a long look at what I was trying to achieve. Fame? Fortune? Admiration? Acceptance? I admitted that—mingled with noble reasons such as shining God’s light in darkness—I harbored
desire for these less attractive aspects of writing and publishing. In contrast to an encouraging word, they appeared empty and ugly. This author demonstrated what a Christian writer should be: Christlike first. I resolved then to generously lift up other writers, and in doing so, my heart and actions would be more in line with Christ’s example.

That was several years ago. A few years later, I wrote an article about ways in which writers can keep creativity alive when life’s circumstances get in the way. Soon after it was published, I received an email from someone I didn't know.

She’d read the article, and it had encouraged and motivated her. Feeling blessed by this unexpected email from someone who’d gathered the courage to write to me, I wrote back to thank her. And I suggested other ways to keep her writing on track and keep her connected with fellow Christian writers, including joining an online writers’ group and attending a writers’ conference. They were by now familiar words, given with love and prayer.

A footnote: a year after I’d read that New Year article, I met the author at a conference. She was then preparing to launch her online magazine for Christian writers, the very one in which my
article had appeared.

Marilyn Hilton is the author of the middle-grade novel Found Things, two nonfiction books for girls, and numerous short stories, poems, columns, and articles for women and writers. She loves speaking at retreats, conferences, and schools. Please visit her at

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