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Special Guest – Chila Woychik

Guest Blog

by Chila Woychik

Writing. One of the most challenging and rewarding ventures I’ve undertaken.

I had just had the second of two back surgeries. At the same time, a close friend was struggling with difficult life circumstances. She asked for my help and for the life of me, I tried. I gave her all I had to offer at the time; to this day she’s still a dear friend. In the meantime, for some reason I felt I needed to get the principles down on paper, the principles we had hashed over and tried to implement together.

I remember sitting in my car in a parking lot, alone, scribbling down thoughts on a bank deposit slip. I felt a tiny bit like the Bronte sisters must have felt as I wrote progressively smaller and smaller to get every single word down on that dwindling white space. They often only had miniscule scraps of paper on which to compose.

That was 1995. A few days later, I remember thinking, “If this is so important to me, maybe it will be important to someone else.” I picked up a copy of Sally Stuart’s Writer’s Guide and sent off my very first non-fiction article. “To Be Pure” was published soon after. And reprinted numerous times since then. That was all it took to make me realize I could do this writing thing.

From then to now, when the words come, I write them down, revise them hard after letting them rest for awhile, then send them off. I’ve had close to a hundred articles and poems published in 25 or so different (mostly print) magazines, all on a very part-time basis.

Rejections? Sure. But the thing I’ve always had going for me is a fierce competitiveness that won’t let me quit, whether in sports or board games or writing. Even in life, I play to win. So when a rejection letter would come, I’d scour it for a reason (if the editor happened to give a reason), take the advice to heart, and try to make the piece better. If I kept getting rejection after rejection on a certain piece, I usually scrapped it or rewrote it from a different perspective altogether. Often that was all it took. I never considered not writing once I began. Ever. But I often had to change, either my view of what works in writing or the article or both.

And sometimes what did the trick was finding a few fresh markets. When online submissions and publications became more common, I expanded into that sphere as well, but still primarily focused on the print mags, which at the time showed a little more impressive on a resume.

I paid attention to details: submission guidelines, which genres or topics the specific magazine or market dealt with, editors’ names and tastes. I became confident friends with more than one editor that way and could almost always count on them to publish what I sent them, or at least work with me on revisions.

I’ve always been a voracious reader, plowing through as many non-fiction books as fiction ones. I assume I picked up a lot of writing how-to’s through that process. I still have only a few writing manuals on my bookshelves; the ones I do, I take very seriously, and attempt to read them through regularly. Details stick with me better that way, on a second or third read. I’ve devoured Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life numerous times; I still come away filled and satisfied after each new reading.

Writing has been an integral part of my life and who I am. I can’t imagine not writing. I want my legacy of “writer” to succeed me. Even more than that, I’d like to be remembered as a good writer and friend.

Diane asked me to share a poem with you. So in the spirit of a captain who cares about her crew, scurvy sea-dogs that they be, here’s one about the sea. My challenge in writing this was to transition from 3 lines in the first stanza up to 6 in the fourth, then back down to three, while rhyming the last word in each stanza. This is a free verse poem with only that bit of rhyme throughout. And in the second stanza, “hies” is an English word meaning “hurries.”

Thank you NAF for this opportunity to share with your readers.

THE SUMMONS

Or, The Sea in My Sea-Grey Eyes

 

I stand at the water’s edge

awash in the wet sea-spray,

when the tide begins to rise.

 

From the ocean depths, in the deep sea’s core,

where Light hies away,

a cry goes out, and the shimmering tide

is cast in my sea-grey eyes.

 

The warm salt-waves engulf my feet;

my legs are bound as one –

and the sea-green weed weaves itself about,

the fishes’ scales bind themselves about,

and I pay, to my demise.

 

Free, I fall, I plunge

in the thick of the wine-grey sea;

twine up the closest floating mass,

loop the end and throw the lead

as a seahorse marvels past –

and I ride toward the darkening skies.

 

Into the blackness, brackish sea,

we seek a sheltered cave –

away from the roaring midnight storm –

where treasures rest in jeweled chests;

but the heart in mine still sighs.

 

I’m used to storms on the open main,

I’ve lived so long in the surge;

and I swim each day to my soul’s delight

with the tide in my sea-grey eyes.

 

But to stand again at the water’s edge

and be washed in the wet sea-spray

would quell this mermaid’s cries.

About Keven Newsome

Keven Newsome is an author, musician, and theologian. With a music degree from William Carey University and a theology degree from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Keven has actively served in ministry as both pastor and worship leader. He is the author of the Winter series: Winter, Prophetess, Acolyte, and Mantle. This supernatural thriller series has been an award finalist for multiple awards. His short stories can be found in the Aquasynthesis anthology and Avenir Eclectia Vol. 1. He is also the author of We Are One, a non-fictional study on generational ministry (published as KW Newsome). Though originally from south Mississippi, Keven now lives in Camden, South Carolina with his wife and children.

12 comments on “Special Guest – Chila Woychik

  1. A big anvil welcome to, Chila. Thank you for having a mug with us scalawags. 😛

  2. The more I learn about you, Chila, the more your tenacious spirit is revealed, and I realize how God gifted you to float the PYP flagship.

  3. Very encouraging, Chila. Thanks for sharing with us all of this. I feel as if you’ve really only scratched the surface of what you could have told us though. I wish you much success with PYP. 😀

    • I’m available for a return visit sometime, David. Maybe more of a q&a format would provide more in-depth info.

      Hey, I just realized I could have / should have replied to a few of these posts individually. But I’m now making up for my laxness. 🙂

  4. I treasure Chila’s friendship and, of course, my copy of her “I Run to the Hills.”

  5. And thanks to the rest of you, Diane, Kerry, and Susan, though you all were actually covered in the “thanks for the invite” reply. Ah well. Next time I’ll make it all a little bit tidier. ~C

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