by Jennifer Odom
The question was simple, straightforward. Like all children, Eva Marie had answered it many times before this fateful day in seventh grade. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Eva Marie waited her turn as Mrs. X went up and down the rows calling on each of her students to declare their future career: doctor, lawyer, secretary… She nodded at each student’s response and commented positively as if each would surely succeed.
Eva Marie had no doubt about what she wanted to be, something she had wanted to be as far back as she could remember.
From early on, her “Norman Rockwell childhood” had pointed her in that direction.
“I always loved to tell stories. I could often be found creating plays and entertainment for the mothers of the Sylvania, Georgia neighborhood. I “directed” my neighborhood playmates and I created the shows, even choreographing them.”
Though not directly encouraged by her parents to take up the career she wanted, they recognized her talents and inclinations. Her father even tried to steer her into radio and television.
Surely this lithe, well-spoken, brown-eyed southern girl, active in swimming, biking, Girl Scouts, church groups, VBS, dance classes, and piano lessons, knew her heart and could not be confused about her direction!
At last Mrs. X called on Eva Marie. “And what about you?”
Eva Marie answered, “I want to be a novelist.”
Mrs. X gazed directly into Eva Marie’s eyes. “Well. You can’t do that.”
Can’t do it? But…
Mrs. X turned away and directed the class to open their textbooks.
What was wrong with being a novelist?
Eva Marie’s face burned. She quickly turned to escape the stares of her classmates and blinked back tears as she located the book in her desk. Disappointment cinched her heart like a band. Eva Marie could hardly wait for the bell to ring.
The teacher’s damaging words clung like a leech. “I believed her. I kept my dream to myself for the most part. I felt that no one would take me seriously as a writer.”
Eva Marie continued to write, though, even producing a “novel” in the 8th grade, which “most of my friends read,” she says. “They loved it, which should have told me something but it didn’t.”
Oddly, when once Eva Marie turned in a less-than-her-best assignment to another teacher who said she “‘believed I could do better than that.’ It inadvertently encouraged me. The fact that (the teacher) believed in something I could do meant everything to me.”
Additional support came through another teacher who gave Eva Marie the lead in a school play.
But Mrs. X thoughtless remark nearly caused irreparable damage.
As a result, “I became a nurse. I kept writing but I didn’t follow that (writing) career path.”
Though “nothing is ever wasted,” she says, “I wish I’d perhaps chosen a different path. Fortunately, no one ever died because of my choice. I quit working in the “outside world” when I became very ill in my late thirties. It took five years to get well, and in that time period I began to write. The rest was an amazing experience of watching one door swing open and then another and another.”
After a long series of events, Eva Marie sat with an editor at a large book sellers convention. This led to a discussion of a book Eva Marie had considered writing. “Nine days later, (the editor) called and said, ‘I’d like to offer you a contract’…and here we went.”
Eva Marie’s career was launched, and today, she has many, many books to her credit. She’s written and ghostwritten dozens of books, her latest being The Final Race and the upcoming The Ornament Keeper.
Her page on Goodreads states, “Eva Marie Everson is a best-selling, multiple award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference. She enjoys teaching and speaking at writers conferences across the US as well as coaching new writers via her company, Pen In Hand, Inc.”
And that is only the tip of the iceberg, Mrs. X! Through Pen in Hand, Eva Marie encourages others to become writers in their chosen genre.
Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” They are irrevocable.
I’m so glad Eva Marie has re-discovered her gift and is working it obediently. In God’s economy the nursing detour was not a complete waste, though, for “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28b.
And to all of us who’ve accidentally walked in Mrs. X’s shoes while not intending to, let us now begin to encourage one other in our gifts and callings.
In the meantime, keep one eye open. It would not surprise me one day to hear that Eva Marie has written a screenplay or directed a movie. After all, she has already taken a screenplay (for the 2012 movie, Unconditional) and turned it into a novel!
You go, Eva Marie!
To find out more about Eva Marie, her books and organizations, click the links below: