Today, I am glad to be hosting my friend, Katja, from Little Blossoms For Jesus!
Hello! 🙂 I’m Katja. I’m a Canadian bibliophile, book reviewer, writer, and child of God. I love too many things to name, but among them are chocolate, heirlooms, history, fancy handwriting, grammar & punctuation, laughter, tearjerking books, lists, organized bookshelves, pink roses, flowing skirts, hymns, and pretty much anything old-fashioned, beautiful, & classy.
Now, I’ll hand it over to Katja…
My writing journey could be said to have started when I was between 7 and 10. It began with the reading lessons my mother was giving the sister right after me. I would take her sentences and copy them down and build tiny stories around them. I copied bits of the Bible and strung them together into a story. I copied out lots of the Beatrix Potter Tales and did the same. Then I moved on to bigger books. I copied out almost whole books by hand, weaving different stories together into one story. I kept this up steadily until I was 12, and I did it occasionally until I was about 14.
During all this time I didn’t often write my own stories straight from my head, but I did write a couple, most of which I still have somewhere! But I started my first big work when I was 12. That’s when I met a girl who was four years older than me and writing steadily… writing real, big books. Instantly I began to write seriously, too. I began a short story collection and then a 5-book series set in France during World War One. To tell the truth, I pretty much idolized that girl. I made her my goal, my model, and I tried my hardest to be just like her. She ran a writing blog, and I tried to do everything she did.
There were good things about this. I actually wrote, for one thing! I also learned a lot of useful things. But there was one bad thing: I became obsessed with being like her, and because I couldn’t be like her, I became depressed and unhappy. My attitude got nasty. I became very defensive of my writing and had tantrums when it was threatened. I was particularly unhappy that I couldn’t do NaNoWriMo and write 50,000 words in one month. I could barely hit 12,000 words in my whole short story collection!
However, I kept writing. I never finished my short story collection, but I kept plugging away at it. I wrote most of the first book in my WWI series and plotted a lot for the rest of the books. I also started probably ten other books and worked on those as the mood struck, besides writing some random short stories. My highest word count was probably under 10k.
When I was 15 I began the Young Writers’s NaNoWriMo (YWP NaNo). I knocked out almost 15k the first year—which I was pretty proud of—but my book was unfinished and I knew it was a total disaster. By this time, my model had published her first book and that became my driving goal and my passion. However, I still struggled to get over 12k words written in the same story.
About this time I began to get to know other young indie authors who were published. This fuelled my dream. I continued to write and learn, but I still struggled a lot with the fact that I could barely write 15,000 words when other writers were knocking out between 40,000–80,000 words. My passion was still to publish a novel; my dream to do and win NaNoWriMo.
I believe it was that same year, 2016, that I first came in contact with Amanda Tero. The very first blog post of hers that I ever read was this one: Of Jellies & Timely Texts.
Boy, did it ever pack a punch. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was true. But I wasn’t willing to give in yet.
Being the people-loving person I am, I went through all of Amanda’s posts to get to know her. (I’ve only stopped this in the past year when college seriously curtailed my blog-scrolling time). And I ran into this post: And Then Comes Writing.
Ooooooo. Yeah. Ouch. That was so me.
I ignored that message for so long. I stubbornly told myself it wasn’t the same for me. I refused to think of it.
But finally, slowly, I began to let go. I don’t know when, exactly. But I began to let go. Writing wasn’t my obsession anymore. It was a hobby. And though I still struggled with being upset with my low word counts, and the belief that I would never be able to write a real book, I was much happier. Writing became something to work on making better. Something to study and experience with. Something to do for pleasure, not for praise. Something more of a dream and a hope than an obsessive passion.
I kept writing. I started a trilogy (which I still intend to overhaul and rewrite). I participated in the YWP NaNoWriMo again and wrote almost 15,000 words, managing to actually finish the whole thing this time. I was ecstatic. I still wrote for myself and my own pleasure; though, of course, I also tried to make them good, reader-pleasing books.
In 2018, I wrote a 12k story for a 100-for-100 challenge (writing 100 words a day for 100 days). I did this while on vacation, traveling across Canada and America. I was proud of myself. But my story was unfinished, and it was also a mess. I never seemed to be able to write anything really worthwhile—except some random short stories. Around this time, though, I got some of my short stories published on a writer’s blog and people actually liked them. I was so happy. I also continued to take part in short story contests and one time, I won.
For NaNo 2018, I wrote 19k in about 13 days in the same story, which I did finish and which wasn’t a total disaster. I then wrote 21k’s worth of short stories and ended with a total of over 40k. It wasn’t all the same stories, but I was getting a little nearer my goal. But it still seemed so far away to this ardent 17-year-old.
April 2019, I joined the Camp NaNo cabin of a well-known indie author whom I really admired. In this cabin were a couple other teen writers/indie authors I knew and admired. My plan was to knock out some of the 345,876 or so writing prompt pictures I had. The first two stories stayed flash fiction. The third… didn’t.
That story, Chords, twisted and turned and wound up into something beyond my wildest dreams. The girls in my cabin loved it, and for the first time I had a real fan-girl team. Chords discussed the themes of hope and redemption and focused on hard topics such as abuse and death. I had always been a little unhappy that my stories were all so silly and slapstick and carried so little dialogue. This book was about 2/3 dialogue—good dialogue! And it had so many quotable sentences! I was over the moon. I topped out at 40,500+ words—SO near my ideal of 50,000 words.
But I had hit a brick wall. I couldn’t figure out how to end my story. So I asked two people to read it. I was crushed by the response. There were SO many mistakes. I was so unhappy that I blamed the critics for being too picky and it was a long time before I fully forgave them. (I really was a horrible person that year.)
Discouraged utterly, I gave up on Chords. I still loved it though, and occasionally I mentioned it and how I needed to finish it. Finally a sweet friend offered to read it and give me encouragement. I woke up one morning to about 30 messages full of fangirling and heart emojis and encouragement. I was so touched. But even then I was afraid to start writing.
Finally, in Camp July 2019, I sat down and finished the book. It ended up being over 48,000 words. And my cabin-mates still loved it.
And for the first time, I fully surrendered my writing to God. It became something to do for Him and His glory, not for my popularity or praise. It became something to reach people for Him and help people struggling. I discovered a real passion, a real vision for my writing.
About this time, I also polished up a Christmas story that my cabin-mates loved and unofficially published it by making it available on my blog as a PDF and mobi, and this made me very excited.
Almost as soon as Chords was done, I wrote a short story sequel and then began to brainstorm. But before I could start a new sequel, another short story spiralled out of control. I started a bit of flash fiction one night on a whim. It refused to end when I wanted it to, so I kept writing. And I kept writing. And I kept writing… by the time November came about, Broken was already nearly 30,000 words long.
In November 2019, I joined in NaNoWriMo and I wrote over 52,000 words in less than 30 days.
In December, I finished Broken and discovered it stood at over 88,000 words.
My dream goal had been 50,000. My wildest dream had been 60,000. This story had gone on even further than that. And people loved it. And I loved it. And it dealt with two topics I was passionate about: redemption and suicide prevention.
After Christmas 2019, I began writing a novella sequel to Chords (and, incidentally, turning over ideas for a sequel to Broken). The whole ideas became a 5-book series. I was happily working on my novella sequel and planning to write a short story prequel and a final short story, when… you guessed it. Random story spiralled out of control.
This story, The Colour Red, would never had been written if my friends hadn’t encouraged me to. I was afraid to try, because it dealt with topics I knew even less about than the first two novels’ topics. But I started it. And I fell completely in love. And it became a part of Chords’ series.
This story now stands at over 63,000 words (and by the time you read this, who knows how big it will be). July 23 was the day I had finished my first novel. It was that day that I reached 50,000 words in my third novel.
What happened to me in one year blew my mind when I looked back. I wrote 3 novels and easily 500,000 words. I “published” one story (it got on Goodreads and a well-known indie author reviewed it on her blog). I had a large group of fangirls. I deleted my NaNoWriMo account because of the unbiblical things they were pushing and helped found a writing camp for Christian girls. I wrote things that moved me so deeply I cried. I delved into hard topics and studied my Bible. I learned the beauty and wonder of grace and redemption and love.
I learned that when I surrender my goals and dreams and talents to God, He gives me far more than my wildest dreams and blesses me beyond anything I ever imagined.
You can never give more to God than He will give you back.