Time to Be Brave and Embrace the Call to Write!
Attending a writer’s conference is one of those things difficult to transfer onto paper (or screen.) You really have to be there to understand the full experience. From making face-to-face connections with writers and mentors you only known via social media to making new contacts with fellow writers or published, yet unfamiliar authors—there are many benefits beyond simply listening to the keynote speaker and attending workshops.
For one, there are those “Divine appointments”. The random introduction or impromptu volunteer opportunity that connects you with someone you may not have otherwise met. After arriving early to volunteer, yet unable to help with heavy lifting due to my back acting up, I was assigned the duty of door “bouncer” in order to prevent attendees from saving seats prior to the completion of setting up the auditorium. The job came with the added bonus of meeting a published children’s book author, Janet Ann Collins. After a few moments of light pleasantries, I found out Janet lived in Grass Valley. I then shared a bit about my current historical fiction series—which takes place between the Grass Valley area and San Francisco.
This prompted her to share that her parents had lived in San Francisco in the late 1800s and early 1900s and that her father had not only told her dozens of stories of his life there, but had even made her memorize the details as a child! Over the next hour, she shared tidbits of the stories and invited me to visit her at her home the next time I was in the area doing research. I thought we would have more time to visit in between conference events, but we never did. This was indeed the one moment we had to connect during the entire weekend. I look forward to hearing her stories and using the relevant facts to bring more life to the No Eye Has Seen series.
Regardless of the other information and inspiration I received over the weekend, this moment confirmed that God had a purpose for me being there. Not that I ever doubted this, but I had not really considered my expectations at that point.
This brings me to a deeper reflection and the theme of the conference. When we choose to write, to move beyond our fears of rejection or being labeled as “different”—our expectations do not necessarily need to be specific. We only need to expect that God will deliver on His promise that if we “show up”, he will bless our efforts beyond any expectations we would see as reasonable.
The keynote speaker, Kathi Lipp, was not only entertaining, but also authentic in her message. The moment she had my full attention was not when she shared about her simple success (she didn’t), but when she realized her family was not perfect. Was she still worthy of writing a book on Christian parenting even when her children were not making the best choices?
Wow, this resonated big time! There have been times where I doubted my call to write due to the imperfect lives of my children or the state of flux within my marriage. I mean—who am I to try to help and encourage people when I am still figuring it out?
Won’t people call me a hypocrite or think my faith doesn’t work? <—Click to Tweet
What if others don’t actually struggle with the same things that I do? Will I be opening a door to temptation or leading others to think they can stray and that God will bring them back on the path in due time?
Whether I share my real life struggles or convert them into fictional people facing similar feelings even if the circumstances are different—my goal is the same. I want people to relate, but even more, I want to give them hope.
Then, during a “lightning talk”, Jeannette Hanscome put this concept into a simple phrase—that like a picture—is really worth a thousand words:
“What do you have to say to free someone else to say, ‘me too!’”
Looking back through my life at all the challenges, the utter chaos, the messes and the catastrophes that left me discouraged, hopeless, and questioning everything—I ask “What if?”
What if I had gone to college instead of becoming a teen mom at 17?
What if my two youngest babies had not been in and out of hospitals the first few years of their lives?
What if my husband and I had decided on getting divorced at one of three points in our 21-year marriage where that seemed like the only option?
What if I had not experienced the symptoms of fibromyalgia or chronic pain/depression three years ago and as a result, we never moved to California for a fresh start?
There are a million more examples, but these ones in particular symbolize major turning points in my life that delayed my call to be a writer. Yet, the experiences have given me the opportunity to transfer the doubt, pain, and fear I felt into stories. My goal is to share them and provide hope while allowing readers to see they are not alone as they face similar situations.
But sometimes I am afraid—I doubt that I will make a difference. Don’t people just want warm and fuzzy fiction? Will readers be turned off by the drama, and the fact my characters don’t always make the right choice first?
These are the thoughts spinning in my mind as I scribble notes from the conference. Then, during the final session, Kathi Lipp reminds us of Three Truths Brave Writers Always Remember:
The brave writer doesn’t fear feedback (meaning seeking correction during the writing process).
Brave authors don’t fear “free” (as in giving stuff away to readers, reviewers, etc).
Brave writers remember what God has already accomplished.
The first two are points I have come to accept in the past two years since joining a writer’s critique group and learning the process of book marketing.
However, the third one is a daily battle. I must make a conscious choice to remember what God has already done in my life—and that it is all for a purpose. He has me here for a reason, and he has a definite purpose for my current book series. My expectations are only in His purpose alone. Whether it is to reach 10 readers or 10,000—all that matters is that I am faithful and BRAVE in accepting the call to write.
He will make a way for others to read my work and say “Me too!” <—Click to Tweet
My part is to show up, be myself, and to tell my stories to the world.
What about you? Even if you are not a writer, is there something you feel led to accomplish, but fear is holding you back? Are there people who need to hear your story in order to feel they are not alone? Do you feel that perfection is a requirement before you can help others?
What has God already brought you through? How can you remember what He has accomplished in order to be brave enough to take the next step?