Taking the 21-Day Writing Challenge

So, I've decided to join a challenge from Jeff Goins to blog for 21 days in a row.

It might seem funny that I'd take a writing "challenge" and join a group of writers for encouragement after self-publishing two books and writing a blog for seven years, but I'm kind of excited about it. I decided to join the challenge after reading this blog post:
by Jeff Goins, author of Wrecked - a book I read and loved a while back.

This daily blogging challenge officially begins October 8, but I stumbled onto another challenge while looking for the Intentional Blogging Facebook Page. That challenge is to write 500 words a day for 31 (or more) days. As any of my faithful readers know, 500 words isn't a big challenge for me once I start writing. But I don't write unless I feel some kind of inspiration. So the biggest challenge for me will be what to write about. I'm not sure I will have an inspirational thought for 21 days in a row, much less 31 or more!

I've had this blog long enough that it feels like a part of me even when I'm not consistently writing. But I had to check my own blog to refresh my memory of exactly how long I've been a blogger. Turns out my first blog post was September 15, 2007.

I've shared inner turmoil, spiritual growth, medical journeys, heartfelt thankfulness, joy, sadness, grief, pain, family pictures, restaurants, resorts, recipes, books, and struggles with weight. I write about whatever I feel like writing about here. And in the last seven years, I've had 379,425 page views (not counting my own).

There was so much going on in my life that I wanted to write about when I started blogging, but couldn't. My husband was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia earlier that year and the last thing he wanted to do was talk about it openly. Even though my preferred coping strategy in any situation is sharing, and writing is a way I process my feelings and thoughts, I had to respect his wishes and stay away from our CLL journey on my blog. Maybe it was for the best in those early months. I was a bit of a wreck. And I would have been more than comfortable to share what a wreck I was if I'd had the freedom to.

In January 2008 I wrote this post about prayer and physical healing. My readers didn't know John had been diagnosed with leukemia six months earlier and his mom was diagnosed that month. I kept my references vague, but I had picked up the book Prayer by Philip Yancey because I was struggling mightily with prayer and how to pray for my husband. And I've often blogged about my reading. When he was first diagnosed, I was in the weeds emotionally. John was strong and stoic. He never got emotional and displayed any real worry about what was ahead for us. He just kept worrying about his business as if there had been no diagnosis. But I was absolutely scared to death by the thought of losing him. I would have written about that in graphic detail.

In May 2009 I got John's permission to write about it. I confess, I kind of cheated a little bit. I asked permission while he was in a hospital bed, recovering from a kidney stone and still slightly medicated for pain. But he did officially say it was okay. And we laughed about it later.

I have been sharing about CLL ever since. And his prognosis is better than I imagined it would be seven years later. When he was diagnosed, I learned from a lot of reading that the median survival at diagnosis was eight years. John was in his early fifties and extremely youthful for his age. We had been married for just over three years. He was my prince charming; my knight in shining armor. My life had felt like a fairytale ever since the day I met him in 2003. My fairytale (as I would have written it) included old age and retirement living. I envisioned us as that cute little elderly couple still holding hands and acting like newlyweds. For a while, life suddenly stopped feeling like such a fairytale. And then I slowly regained my emotional bearings through my constant faith that God is always working all things for our good. Even through a cancer diagnosis. Once I was given permission to mention CLL on my blog, I wrote about our journey through treatment options as well as my emotions as a caregiver to both my husband and my mother-in-law.

In October 2009 I published my first book. I wrote many posts about that writing and publishing journey.

In February 2012 we moved from Tennessee to West Virginia. My writing slowed down because I was busier than ever and, surprisingly, happier than ever. And then I got inspired to start working on a second book.

In March 2012  I wrote my most popular blog post ever. I had bi-lateral foot surgery to remove painful Morton's Neuromas and I blogged about my recovery. That post alone has gotten over 80,000 views as of today. And I've heard from so many readers. I love it when I can share anything that helps someone else through a similar struggle; whether it's emotional, spiritual or physical.

In February 2014 I published my second book. Again, I blogged about that writing and publishing journey.

Maybe five years from now there will be a third book. I don't know. But in the meantime, I hope to get back to blogging. At least for the next 21 days!

In case you haven't seen all my Facebook posts or previous blogs about it, let me share once more than I'm giving away free Kindle downloads of both my books on amazon.com all weekend. I'm doing it now because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But I'm also doing it because what writers want most are readers; even if we have to give our work away to be read!

If you like to read about real life (mine in this case), I'd love to share the rest of my story with you. And it won't cost you a dime.

Until tomorrow...


Kathy Ngo said…
Wow. I am so amazed at your journey and I love that you talk so freely about your life. It's become rare nowadays in the Philippines for bloggers to do so. Most just focus on events and what nots. I was starting to feel like such a lost cause.

Shari said…
Thank you, Kathy! I'm a deeper blogger and have always been an extremely open person. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Can't wait to read your writing.
Tony S. said…
Beautiful. I've always thought the best writing was honest and open and yours certainly is. Glad I stopped by.
Shari said…
Thank you, Tony. I'm glad you stopped by too!

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