The Story That Won’t Ever Let Me Go

“If you could only write one thing for the rest of your career, or before you die, what would it be?”

Writers are supposed to write. No matter what—right? I mean, write . . . the story that won’t ever let you go.

white ruled paper
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I can’t imagine life without writing. It’s the one thing I know that I know that I know I’m supposed to do. The writing journey isn’t always fun. I obsess over words and pray they become worlds. There are days when I talk to myself for hours on end as I prepare to create new storylines. A few years ago, I made the decision to branch out and write something other than the whimsical stories that were planted in my heart long ago. I wanted to write something that fit the current trends. At that time, children’s chapter books for the Christian market were not all the rage. They’re still not the best sellers. Fantasy. Romance. Mysteries. Suspense. Inspirational. I love them all, but only one series of tales has kept its grip on me through the years, storms, and gales. Characters pushed my pen and tapped my computer keys when I didn’t have the strength to live or write. Were they gifts from The Giver, or curses? I may never know. Still, I can’t deny, it’s the story that won’t ever let me go.

person holding book
Photo by Tembela Bohle on

Every writer knows the meaning of starting over. We hit plot holes and structure issues. After we’ve edited the same sentence thirty-nine hundred times, we wait for a text reply, or for the phone to ring, signaling break time. Days, weeks, and occasionally months go by without a new chapter, paragraph, or sentence.

There’s only emptiness. A longing I can’t explain. It’s like the last call to first love, begging him to come home. It’s the story that lives inside me, calling out to me, like a child, or a friend. It’s the one I can’t deny when my words won’t flow for anything else— even when all I want to write is anything else. There’s always that one story—The story that won’t ever let me go.

I’ve known the beginning from the beginning, and I know I’ll know the end when it’s all supposed to end. I’ve asked myself a gazillion times, how can two fictional characters have such a hold on my heart and my brain? You know similar characters. Animal, or human. They’re the game changers—the ones that will leave us (and hopefully our readers), forever changed. I have no doubt they’ve become part of who we are. We believe they’re alive and well because they live inside wonderful stories that won’t ever let us go.

apple book break child
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I attended a popular writing conference in the Asheville, NC area late last spring and found myself signing my name on a sheet of paper to meet with a highly respected agent. Don’t ask why I did this. I hadn’t planned to, but my mind was on autopilot. Besides, I’ve met with lots of editors, agents, and publishing bigwigs before. What’s the big deal? I’m a multi-published author for Pete’s sake. I’ve got this. I’ll give my pitch. We both smile. Shake hands. Bye-Bye. Repeat.

Errrrr . . .

So, why did my room key card quit working twenty-five minutes before this particular meeting? I needed my computer and my portfolio. Thankfully, a janitor came to my rescue with a new card five minutes later. I had five minutes to go over my new pitches and to pray before I had to run down the hill and to the meeting area.

My mind went blank one minute later.

In hand were my professional one-sheets for an MG fantasy novel and a Christmas novel I’ve worked on for a while. Each had a solid concept. I shoved a few one-sheets for my children’s chapter book series into the back pocket of my portfolio. They won’t be interested in this one. I cried like I was about to cheat on my spouse when I looked at the colorful one-sheets. I had worked on the children’s series for many years. It was my heart’s work—stuffed into the back pocket of my portfolio.

I fell on my knees. God help show me Your way in all this writer journey quest mess.

Let’s say the meeting wasn’t my best. I stumbled on the novel’s pitch. The agent politely corrected several mistakes I’d made. I fumbled with my plastic cover sheets. I wanted to slip away. Instead, the person who sat across from me smiled, looked me in the eye, and then asked one of the most important writer/writing questions anyone has ever asked me.

“If you could only write one thing for the rest of your career, or before you die, what would it be?”

Without hesitation, I answered, “my DoveStories series.”


These two wacky doves, Coo and flutter, have been part of my imagination, my life, and my family’s lives for several years. They’ve become more than children’s book characters to me. My only hope is to complete the upcoming DoveStories tales, and that each story would spark imaginations and touch hearts with their innocence, mission, and love.

So, yes, I’m turning my heart back to my first love. I hope you do too. Let’s write what tugs at our hearts day and night. That’s our story.

If family or friends question our desire to mingle with our characters over coffee, cocktails, or lunch, so what? Some might ask us why we’ve hung photos of characters in our offices or guest bedrooms. If they only knew how our characters invade our dreams, leave us wide-eyed like we saw a ghost, they wouldn’t ask. People think we’re crazy to waste so much time on simple stories, especially if you’re writing children’s chapter books, like me. We know they’re anything but simple. From now on, let’s believe in the unbelievable. After all, these are the stories that won’t ever let us go. Want to read more stories? I’m a monthly contributor on Inspire A Fire:

Is there a story tugging at your heart, calling you to write? I’d love to hear about it. Please take a moment and join the conversation in the comments section below.

Blessings, love, and hugs ~ Joann

10 responses to “The Story That Won’t Ever Let Me Go

  1. Joann,
    Such a compelling question! It’s definitely one that presses into the heart and requires us to soul-search. I’m glad I ran across your piece. Answering that question will define a path for me in a clearer manner. Great piece!


  2. Wonderful, Joanne! A sweet smile rose as I read and without doubt, encouraged to focus on exactly what God has called us to do.

    Thank you, Vicki

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a deep passion running through your veins. Pursue it until you drop. You must! “Commit your way to the Lord and He will make your way prosperous!” I love you. I love your passion. I love the way you are able to give mental pictures. Write, write, write! Susan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the powerful words of encouragement, Susan. I must pursue it until I drop! I will . . . Always. God bless you for taking the time to leave this comment. It means a lot to me. Please keep this series in your prayers. The journey seems so long sometimes, but the Lord is the Giver of words along the way. He deserves the glory for moving my pen. I believe He will move mountains too, in His time. Not mine.
      Love. Blessings. Hugs.


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