Juni’s story, Drop Zone, won second prize in the Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life last year and was published in our anthology Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. We’re pleased to bring you a reading of Juni’s story today.
We asked Juni to share with us a bit about her story and her writing journey. This is what she sent us:
Backstory to Drop Zone
I wrote Drop Zone because I wanted to share a short encouraging story that is also a reminder to self. This story encourages me personally on two levels.
First, it reminds me that I am enough. I am only one person but God loves me as much as he loves any other person. And he will do whatever he can to get my attention and show me who he is. He shows me he wants to be in my life every day and we can talk to each other all the time.
Second, it reminds me that when we serve God and share God with others through words or actions, it is never in vain. We may think it has no impact and that it’s a waste of time and effort because we don’t see anything happen on the outside. But who knows what seed is being planted or watered or is growing in someone’s heart?
Having been on both sides of one being served and one serving, I can appreciate both sides and see how they work together. As a youth leader, I could become discouraged thinking that working with teens each week wasn’t making a difference. But Gabby’s words encouraged me that it mattered. It mattered in my life when Gabby ran Drop Zone every week, so, I would keep going because it might matter in someone else’s life.
In terms of how I wrote the story, I wanted to capture these two sides, so, that’s why the story is split into two episodes. I also wanted to focus on dialogue because it was a conversation with Gabby that gave me this insight about the one being worth it. I then chose a conversation with Gabby from the earlier episode where her words also gave me an insight that God is real and personal. I wanted to highlight that what she did matters. It wasn’t big, flashy, weird, or wacky, but it was simple, casual, normal, and relatable. It made a difference.
What writing means to me
For a long time, my dream has been to be a writer/author. I’ve doubted this dream many times but writing is something I can’t shake. Throughout my life, I’ve had other hobbies and passions that have come and gone, but I’ve always gone back to writing. God has spoken to me about it on numerous occasions telling me I was made to write. The most recent time I doubted this was last year. I asked God to show me if I should keep the writing dream alive or if I should give it up. Not long after, I found out that one of my stories I entered in the Stories of Life competition had won a monetary prize. I felt God speak to me through this. He told me not to neglect writing and that he had still called me to be a writer.
The reason I doubted writing was because I felt guilty that my dream wasn’t to do something ‘better’ with my life. Teaching, nursing, feeding the poor…something that you could see was making a difference in the world and making people’s lives better. Through studying creative writing at Tabor (a course I heard about through the Stories of Life competition), I finally learnt the value of writing. I mean, I always knew it, from being a lifelong book-reader and seeing how writing made a difference in my life, but hearing it from a Christian perspective showed me that writing is one of many ways we can show God to the world and glorify him. And writing can make people’s lives better by offering encouragement, inspiration, comfort, wisdom, and so much more.
I hope the words I write bring God’s light and love to people and that they bring glory to God.
It’s a powerful story about fistfights in the far corner of the playground under the gum trees. Alan reads his own story for us, making it all the more poignant, bringing us back in time to when he was a young boy, when he and his sister were marked out as being different.
Enjoyed Alan’s story? For more stories like these, head over to our archives or grab a copy of our past anthologies.
Will your story be published in our 2020 anthology? We hope so. Accepting submissions till 31 July.
Last November, Joanne Prenzler Smith recorded her story, In a Manger, at the 1079 LifeFM studios in Adelaide. Her story about a real baby, her baby, used in a nativity play won first prize in the Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life category.