FALLS CITY -- The idea of writing just wouldn't leave Falls City resident Mary Hake alone.
Hake, 56, was fascinated with the art even before she could read, inspired by the stories and poems her mother read to her as a small child.
"I just wanted to be able to do that, too," she said. "I just thought it was wonderful."
When she did learn to read, it was like opening up a new world.
"I would bring home stacks of books from the library when I was young, in the summer," Hake said. "I would rather read than play."
In school, she excelled in writing and was encouraged by her teachers to follow that path. However, after graduating from Lebanon Union High School, she found that she couldn't afford to attend college.
Hake soon married her husband, Ted Hake. Two daughters, Kathy and Charisse, followed. While thoughts of a writing career were sidelined in favor of the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood, Hake always found a way to write, either for herself or for church activities.
"As far as really pursuing it professionally, it was always a vague dream, you know, maybe someday," Hake said.
That someday came when Hake started home-schooling her daughters. She explored writing while they were occupied with school work.
Then, about 25 years ago, Hake decided to attend a conference of the Oregon Christian Writers (OCW), having heard of the organization through a friend. OCW's goal is to help Christian writers navigate the publishing world and perfect their craft. Hake already had been published, but joining took her a step further.
She found her childhood fascination with writing had developed into a passion for working with words.
"I love it when the right words or way to express yourself appear on the page," she said. "It's almost like magic. It's just a thrill."
Hake took another step in her pursuit of writing when her daughters were in college. Though in her 40s, Hake decided to become a college student, too. She enrolled in Linn-Benton Community College to earn an associates degree in journalism. Hake said she had the same anxieties as most students, but being the age of many of her peers' parents added extra worries about being able to keep up with demands. Hake pressed forward, anxieties and all, with a strong desire to improve her writing. She didn't regret it.
"I was a really good experience," Hake said. "I had friends among the teachers and also students my daughters' age. We were like peers. It was a really freeing experience and I felt accepted even though I felt like I stood out in the crowd in some ways."
Hake become a chief copy editor and reporter for the college's newspaper The Commuter. After graduating in 1998, Hake was hired as a feature writer at The Times, in Brownsville, and the now-shuttered High Desert Sun in Central Oregon.
Her stint as a feature writer ended when she moved to Falls City more than four years ago to help care for her mother, who had fallen ill. Hake, now in her second term as president of Oregon Christian Writers, is a free-lance editor and writer with a number of short stories and home-school curriculum published. Hake proofreads and edits for clients and publishers and has a number of writing projects in the works, including two novels.
Hake said she is looks forward to exploring other avenues for her writing, such as magazine writing, and continuing her Christian writing.
"I think it's just something that God put in me -- to be creative that way," Hake said. "I also like to encourage others. In my Christian writing, that is my main motivation. ... I know sometimes how much things that I have read have ministered to me and I want to help others to be able to feel that someone cares. That they are loved. That they can make it."
Want to Know More?
* For more information about Mary Hake and her writing and editing services, go to maryhake.com.
* For more information about Oregon Christian Writers, visit www.oregonchristianwriters.com.