In The Pipeline: Winter Solstice Gift


Friends, I have an announcement.

I am giving myself a gift this Christmas.

A big one.

I am opening a gift this Christmas Eve that I should have given myself a long time ago.

I am giving myself the gift of being a writer.

It’s a title I’ve wished for my whole life, and I think I thought that someone else had to give it to me. I have played with calling myself a writer in the last couple of years. But I always say it very tentatively, and sometimes I just skip it.

In October I had a fairly deflating interview via Skype with someone from New York who asked me what I do and I told him I was a travel blogger.

Somehow, I thought that sounded more real than saying I was a writer.

“A what?” he snapped. “Did you say a travel blogger? Is that even like a real job?”

After that experience, I thought, “This is ridiculous. At least, if I say that I am a writer, people know what that is.”

So when someone asks me what I do I’m going to say:

I am a writer.

I am letting go of worrying about the response. Yes, I will bumble through the follow up question of, “Oh, really. What do you write?”

Or maybe I will just say, “1000 words a day.”

Because that, my friends, is a big part of what makes me a writer. It may not make me a successful writer, but if I am writing 1000 words every day, I. Am. A. Writer.

I am super excited to announce my debut project in titling myself “A Writer.”

This project is my Christmas gift to you, my reader.

Beginning on Christmas Eve, I will share 12 Stories in 12 Days.

Twelve Days Of Stories at The Chino House

They are a mix of new stories and old stories I’ve reworked. They are all from my life and I am proud of each of them. I have experimented in each one with something new, and in turn the stories have come to life and taught me more about writing and about myself. Three of them hold a little more of my heart than I have been willing to give to the internet before. One of them fought with me about my tendency to tie a happy bow on the end of everything, and won. Writing them made me heartsick for my friends, for my family and for my children when they were babies.

This Christmas, we are living in a new land. We are far from friends and we do not have a lot to give financially. Giving these stories to you is a way for me to give gifts on a year that I cannot drive around Dogtown delivering cookies and candied nuts or even send Christmas cards.

So, as they say here in the UK,

Happy Christmas!


I have to say that even though I am taking a lot of credit for giving myself this gift of being a writer, I have to give some shout-outs to some factors contributing to make it happen.

Reading Alexandra Franzen’s and Nicole Antoinette’s blogs have been like having cheerleaders all year long as I have made the transition from full-time mama/preacher’s wife to full-time writer.

Last summer I had a “clever session” with Sarah Von Bargen that made me ask hard questions about myself and my blog. Super helpful!

Doing NaNoWriMo gave me the gift of doing long form writing again every day (instead of just a 500 word blog post). It was frustrating and difficult and wonderful.

And finally, this week I have buried myself in Mike Sowden’s Storytelling Course for Bloggers. It’s a free five day eCourse full of all kinds of discouraging information about the wrong kind of storytelling that is happening all over the internet, which doesn’t seem like it would be that helpful. By Day 3, I wanted to shut my blog down all together. But in the long run, realizing that I am telling “broken stories” motivates me to make them better. The course has enough material in questions/content + links to other sources to keep me busy trying to tell better stories for a very long time.

And like a perfect gift from God, right in the middle of the course there was a link to this gorgeous piece about a winter solstice in Scotland. I’ve been waiting for the solstice like a hawk, counting the days until the sun will start staying out for longer again.

So until next week, here’s my favorite quote from the piece:

I like the sun’s particular gestures, and I like the signs of midwinter life: the wintering geese in empty fields, a lone woman walking along a farm-track in boots and coat, a scarf over her head. By half-past two what daylight had been grudgingly dealt out was being gathered in again.

-Kathleen Jamie



  1. I have for a while thought of you as a writer. When your mom told me “travel blogger” I thought the same as that man. You have so much to give I can’t wait to read your stories! I know they are great. So congratulations for finally giving yourself permission to say what many of already knew. Happy Christmas!

    1. Thank you so much Cathy! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too! XOXO

  2. I think that’s a most wonderful gift!!! I’m so happy for you!!!

    1. Thank you June for being such a faithful encourager!! 🙂

  3. Sweet Alison, I tend to think of you the way Cathy thinks of you…as a writer. I don’t spend much time reading things on the internet but I always take the time to read what you have written. It lifts me up and as a teacher, I need to be lifted up daily. Recently when you wrote about your grandmother, I sent it to my mother to read. She was in Bible Study Fellowship when your grandmother lectured. She always spoke of her so lovingly! So, I am passing you on when I feel led. Happy Christmas to you and your family!

    1. Thank you so much for this Debbie! These words were an uplift to me as well!! 🙂 Happy Christmas to you too! XOXO

  4. What a wonderful gift! I can’t wait to read your stories. And when someone asks me about writers I love…. I’m using your name!

    1. You know how much that means to me friend! Thank you! XOXO

  5. I think that is probably the best gif you can give yourself and I for sure am looking forward to your stories! I loved Mike’s course too and had similar feelings when going through it. I definitely had trouble answering those questions he gave in the last email, guess I have some figuring out to do!!!

    1. I know, right?? I have printed the questions out as my “project” to finish before the new year! Maybe I’ll have a clue in 2014? No promises though! Let me know how you get on! Happy Christmas Satu!! 🙂

  6. You are a BEAUTIFUL writer! And yes, it is so hard to own what we want to be most true, but are so afraid to claim for ourselbves. You are a writer and I am SO proud of you for saying so. I cannot wait to read every word of your 12 stories. Much love my friend!

    1. Thanks so much Jerusalem! This means a lot to me coming from someone with a book under their belt. 🙂 I feel like I am just beginning to grasp how much work that was for you, which just makes me all the more proud! Love to you too!! XOXO

  7. Glad you’ve been, um, enjoying my course! And apologies if you found some of my ideas a bit discouraging – not my intention when I wrote it.I used the phrase “broken stories”, but I don’t equate that to “broken blogging” – there are many successful sites run by happy people that get along just fine without any rock-solid endings in mind. But it does seem like endings are under-utilized in many blogs, and when endings are nailed up for everyone to see, people start getting seriously motivated…

    I applaud your decision to use the “w” word.

    All your readers know you’re a writer in every sense that matters. So does everyone who has come into contact with you in writerly circles this year. But the main thing is getting to a place where you feel it too.

    Sometimes I feel it (not always) – and it seems to be directly related to my word-count. When I write, can call myself a writer. When I’m not writing, I can’t. It’s not a job title I feel I can own without being a word-factory on legs with a certain production schedule. Hopefully that will keep me honest if I get successful, and keep me cranking words out until that happens.

    Kathleen Jamie’s “Findings” is magical. You should get it and read it. That Orkney darkness piece is chapter 1. The whole book is that good. And her sequel, “Sightlines”, is equally bewitching.

    In 2014 I want to try to write like that. 🙂

    Background to Jamie’s work:

    1. I think the course is tremendously helpful, Mike and would be fun to read for anyone who even likes stories! But especially those of us who are trying to tell them. And I appreciate your generosity in offering it to the world for free!

      Wouldn’t it be amazing to write like Kathleen Jamie? I will definitely track down “Findings.” Thanks much and Happy Christmas! 🙂

  8. I have just recently found your blog. I love your current storytelling, and can only imagine how amazing it will become as you sharpen your skills.
    I love the honest warmth you convey with your writing.
    I can’t wait to read these stories of yours :).

    1. Thank you so much Loura! Such kind words!! I appreciate so much your subscribing and coming back for my stories. It’s a great compliment! 🙂

      1. I’ve known all along that you’re a writer, and I’m glad you finally let yourself know it, too!

        I count it a privilege to read your stories, to keep up with your family through your blog and to say you’re my friend.

        1. Thank you so much for that affirmations Suzy!! And for reading my stories. 🙂

  9. Alison, I have always know that you are a very gifted writer! Whenever I read anything that you have written, I feel like I am experiencing what you have written. You truly have a gift that blesses everyone that reads the words you write!

    1. Thank you so much Debbie!! I’m saving these encouraging words for those days I don’t think much of my writing. 🙂

  10. Alison
    You have always been a writer and an inspiration in my mind. I look forward to your continued growth as a writer and person. Your blog brightens my day. Blessings to you and your family.

    1. Thank you so much Donna!! This is tremendously encouraging to me and it brightens my day!

  11. […] This story was first published in September 2008 when my oldest son, Cole, started middle school. Actually, this story was also published in a story collection. I, of course, told no one about this because that was before I could say out loud that I Am A Writer. […]

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