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The Writer

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I wanted to be a writer but found myself working at a newspaper office as the bookkeeper.  A couple of times I handed little articles to the newspaper owner that he accepted to run in the editorial column.

At that time, the newspaper office had a staff of three reporters. The boss kept asking them to write feature stories, which he felt were good fodder for entertaining our small town readers.

In a throwback to the past, about that time a small boy started showing up in town with a little wooden shoe shine box.  With tennis shoes and sandals the primary footwear of most people, he didn’t have many customers; but he made a colorful sight. The boss thought he would make a great story.  Several times, I heard him, suggest, ask, and finally almost demand that one of the reporters write that feature.

Finally, I went to his office and asked if he would mind if I took a stab at writing the story. Once I had his permission, I set up an interview with the little boy and his family.  Armed with a stenographer’s pad for taking notes, I went out that evening to do my interview.

The house where the family lived was exceedingly poor.  There was hardly any furniture.  The bare wood floors had no varnish or rugs.  There was dirt on that floor that was less like a dirty house and more like walking on the earth. Almost immediately, I realized that the family, mired in poverty, was very excited about a newspaper article being done about them.

I was humbled. This meant a lot to these people and I barely knew what I was doing.  Had I, in my vain attempt to prove myself, done something that was unfair to them?

That evening I sat in the bathtub and prayed.  I asked the Lord to help me write a decent article…but not for me. I asked him to help me write an article that would justify the hopes of that little shoe shine boy and his family.

After I emerged from the tub, I wrote the article.  I did the best I could, going over it and over it, wanting it to read well and be free of errors. The next morning I handed it in to my boss.  He was pleased and told me to get the boy to the office for a picture.

It was nearly a week before the editor ran the story. The picture and the beginning were on the front page.

A couple of days later, I received a phone call from a national news service. They wanted to use my story as a state-wide feature.  A few days later I received another call from someone who identified himself as a philanthropist who wanted to do something for the boy in the story. Eventually, I received a check in the mail from the news service.

It was all very gratifying but the most gratifying part was the knowledge that I had allowed myself to be an instrument of God.  I had gone on the interview because of vanity and a desire to promote myself, but I had written the story with God at my side.

I still work at the paper and I am still the bookkeeper. I am also a writer, but I never write alone.

Betty Killebrew

Read other articles, stories and poems by Betty Killebrew at:  www.trovemagazine.com

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