My 4 Year Anniversary

My Professional Mentor, Edie Melson
By Laurie Epps

I can't believe that it was four years ago today that I started my first blog. I was inspired by my beloved mentor, Edie Melson to have at least the perfect trifecta: a blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Today, I'd like to do a remembrance of the last four years, and how far I've come not only as a writer, but as a person as well.




Pictured with my cousin Kay, July 2, 2011



2011
This first year, it was a more personal blog. It was sort of a diary without the juicy tidbits that I'd ordinarily write in my personal, and paper form of diary that I keep at home. It was a year that I was new to the idea of blogging, and I hadn't found my voice. Sometimes, I think I'm still searching for that voice.

The Summer of 2011, I was an intern for the Writers Plot Conference with Pam Zollman, the former editor of Highlights Magazine and owner of The Writers Plot in Travelers Rest, SC. I even met the author of one of my favorite Children's books, Stand Back Said the Elephant, I'm Going to Sneeze! and not only did I get a picture with her, I've kept contact with her ever since. Patricia Thomas is a delightful woman, and always encourages my writing.

That summer in particular, I did more traveling than I've been able to do since then. I had my hysterectomy that summer in response to uterine cancer cells that they found at my OB/Gyn visit. I was too chicken to actually print that on my blog back then. Now, I realize it's precisely those types of struggles that makes me relatable.

2012

My blogging was only happening about once a month, but I was taking classes in Professional Writing in college. However, I was developing my craft, and I did send in my first submission to anyone. My ex husband knew a guy from high school who's a journalist, and while they were talking on Facebook, mentioned that I do a little writing. Not only did I make a connection with his friend, I sent in my two favorite essays from my non-fiction writing class. I was delighted when one of them was published on the "slice of life column" on his blog. To view that column, click here: 
http://www.randomthoughtsonbeinghuman.com/guest-writers/drifting-in-and-out-of-the-light

With my girls just before the wedding, Sept. 2012
2012 was also the year that my husband abandoned me and the girls, and I was working a little job at Dillard's Department Store. I tried so hard to hold it all together. I took about a million selfie's that year trying to prove to the world that, I was, in fact, ok. I went to a wedding on his family's side a month after he left with the girls. Everyone there knew I got dumped. It was so humiliating. But, I had the resolve to persevere. I not only kept writing, but I had decided that no matter what, I would graduate college. I don't feel as bad about it anymore. I started to re-acquaint myself with who I was as an individual again. I was singing in the shower again.... More than that, I know my relationship with Christ is deeper because of it.

That fall, I re-directed my column to a homeschool blog. My professor convinced me that a writing column like Edie's wouldn't do well for my school project. Well, I still believe that it'd of done a lot better than what I had instead. That column not only was not nearly as well visited as my original blog that bears my name, it also was an epic fail. You win some, you lose some. I learned a lot about my writing, and blogging in general from this failure. To view that under-viewed blog, click here:
http://homeschoolfluff.blogspot.com

My girls and I, Sleeping Beauty, Carolina Ballet Theatre 2012
My daughter, Ellen, also turned sweet 16 that fall. It was bittersweet for me. She opened up the ballet for Carolina Ballet Theatre with a solo that year. It was the biggest part she's ever had. But yet, I felt a bit sad too. Not only because it was becoming increasingly more and more difficult to keep up with her dancing, but I couldn't bring her dad to be there for her special day. Such a beautiful night, yet I was wrestling with feelings of inadequacy because I felt I couldn't do enough for her. I took her out to a fancy restaurant a week later to celebrate. But my baby girl was sweet 16, and I wanted to give her the world.

I started to reconnect with my local writing community that fall, and it lead to bigger and better things for 2013.


First Day as an Editorial Intern with Edie Melson
2013

2013 was a great year. I was an intern for Edie Melson. I also maintained a column on her blog, the Write Conversation. I learned so much working with her that one year, and it surpassed all of my expectations. 

Every Tuesday, I had a column about writing technique on her blog, and on every Thursday, I had a column about poetry on my personal blog.

To view my favorite post from those days, click here:
http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-writers-guide-to-nothingness.html

Or, follow and subscribe to her blog: http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com

My first 3 Mentors: Vonda Skelton, Edie Melson, &
Michelle Medlock Adams
That May, I went to my first full-blown writers conference. Not that the conference the year before wasn't real, it was a much smaller conference featuring local talent. However, The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference is massive conference, featuring writers from all over the country. While I was there, I made a lot of really great networking connections. These writers still rally around me and offer support or criticism as it's needed. It's a wonderful starter conference, and I really hope to go again this year.

Just a month after I got back, my story Par Avion: A Travelers Guide was published in Straightjackets Literary Magazine. 

By midsummer, my work with Bible Girlfriends Online began. That program lasted until the end of the year, and a little beyond but without the growth we expected, we've let it go dormant for now. I've now learned that a good idea never completely goes away, but you've got to be adaptable if the timing is bad.


Pictured with all 3 of my daughters, Christmas Eve 2013
The rest of the year was fairly uneventful, and this was my blog's golden age. My stats were good, and I even worked with a handful of guest bloggers. That Christmas, I lost a very dear friend, Anthony Perez. He died tragically, and without warning. However, I had to make the decision whether to go to my friends funeral down in South Florida or to see my family in California that I'd not seen in seven years. I chose the latter because I really believe that's what my friend would've wanted me to do. It also gave me a chance to reconnect to myself in a spiritual way, and I believe that was beneficial for me and my girls. To read about that trip, click here:
http://1writerlaurieepps.blogspot.com/2014/01/going-home-for-holidays.html

2014 

I maintained bi-weekly columns for most of 2014: Monday Morning Book Club, and Thoughtful Thursday's (my poetry column). I was really good about it most of the year, at least until October. 


Graduation Selfie, May 3, 2014
My biggest news of 2014 was graduating college in May. I'd been struggling for so long to get through, and that fateful day was on May 3, 2014. My girls came to my graduation, and we went out for barbecue afterwards. Finally, I was released, I was free to go out into the world and do what I was trained to do.

Again, I refocused on getting a job after graduating. It was very disheartening, and still is. I continued to network with other writers, and I'm in a different place today because of it. For the holidays, I even took a job at the local mall at Sears, but this Christmas in particular has shown me that I need to stay true to my talents and gifts. I've circled in prayer that there had to be a better way, and God has answered me in 2015.

2015 

2015 started off pretty uneventfully, except starting a grad school program online. However, by January 20th I was sick. I wasn't a little sick, I was really sick. It sort of put my idea of getting back in shape on the back burner, and my column about my progress along with it. This year started off rough. I was sick for roughly two months, and we had many severe weather storms in February. We lost power at one point for 3 days. It was during the extreme cold that my health started spiraling downward. By the time that I went to the doctor a month later, I had bronchitis. I don't believe I've ever had such a bad case of it either.


Pictured with Adriana Vermillion at TCOHLC 2015
While I was sick, my friend Adriana from the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference called and invited me to The Colors of His Love Conference created by founder La-Tan Murphy. I agreed to go, and I never imagined that I'd still be sick when I went! But I was and it's started me on the next chapter of my life.

Near my birthday in March, I discovered that my ex has a new-old girlfriend. Just when I started to feel sorry for myself, my friend and mentor, Michelle Medlock Adams popped up in my messenger box asking me if I'd guest blog for her, and on Guideposts! It was in that moment, that there's something much bigger at play than who I date, and I remembered my prayer asking God, "Just how do you get into this Guideposts anyway?" You ask God, that's how! So it tells my story, and all of my story of how I came to make the first major decision that I've made solely since I was about 19. I don't want to tell you too much here, because I want you to read it for yourself. To find out about the next chapter of my life, click here:
http://www.guideposts.org/blog/a-leap-of-faith-0

As for my blog, I'm sort of re-grouping right now. I'd like to expand my horizons a bit. I'd like to return to my Workout Wednesdays column, but I'll have to make it to the gym for that to make any sense. With a major move, and my first business trip immediately following that, I'd like to resume that column this fall. Adding, of course, some diet and nutritional columns to support the workout regime. I'm also wanting to resume my Book Club column, my Poetry column, and add a travel or parenting column. As things develop, I'll definitely add them to this blog, and cue you all in. 

To keep up with my latest professional developments, just go to this Facebook link, like my page, and that's it! I'm very good about keeping up to date on my writer page, which always has the latest updates. To navigate to that page, click here:
https://www.facebook.com/1writerlaurieepps

It's been a wonderful four years, and I'm hoping for at least another four years with all of you. If I remember far enough in advance, maybe a video blog next year? Ciao my dears. May God's Blessings Be Upon You.


Laurie Epps is a recent graduate of Anderson University majoring in Creative Writing. Already Laurie is most published as a feature article writer, essayist, and poet.  A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell the many stories of those she meets. Columns include: Monday Morning Book Club, and Thoughtful Thursdays, a column dedicated to the fine art of poetry.





Comments

  1. Laurie, I'm so blessed to have been part of your journey! I know God is going to continue to use your writing in a powerful way as you move on to the next step in following Him! Love & Blessings, E

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  2. Dearest Edie, thank you for always being patient and gracious with me. You're grown into more than a mentor, but a beloved friend as well. Besides the big move, I'm not sure what's next, but I've got to just trust that God's plans are better and bigger than mine. Love you so much, Laurie

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