Tuesday, May 16, 2017

On creating and who you really are

I’m knee deep in proposals, one sheets and manuscripts right now, because in a few days, I’m heading to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. It’s been a while since I attended the conference and have met many incredible people there, so I look forward to reconnecting with long time friends. As I’ve written here before, I once told the founder of the conference, Yvonne Lehman, that almost every good thing that has happened in my writing is somehow connected to the Blue Ridge Conference.
Bev and Yvonne Lehman at the Blue Ridge Conference a few years ago
Yet, like almost all the writers I know, I have suffered angst at the thought of pitching my work to others. I’ve seen writers in tears, locked in restroom stalls agonizing over the dreaded pitching session. I’ve shed a few tears myself, and dread stalks me at these things.

However, a couple of years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Brene Brown speak at the Catalyst conference. I found one of her books, The Gifts of Imperfection in my daughter’s car recently and decided to read it myself. I’m amazed at the timeliness of her words in my life.

The challenge for any creative is when we put our hearts out on a platter for someone to judge, and they reject those words, it feels like they’re rejecting us. It hurts. A lot.  We’ve made a huge investment of time and thought and then . . . nada. When you read of folks sending out thirty or forty query letters only to be turned down―well, you can see how that adds up.

A New York Times bestselling author now, Dr. Brown still knows a bit about this rejection road as she sent out over forty inquiries for her first book, I Thought it Was Just Me. After no one expressed interest, she self-published. A shame and vulnerability researcher, Dr. Brown talks about how we can become resilient to shame, which is what many of us feel when we receive those rejections.

She writes in Daring Greatly, “Because of how you were raised or how you approach the world, you’ve knowingly or unknowingly attached your self worth to how your product or art is received. . .  If they love it, you’re worthy; if they don’t you’re worthless . . . With an awareness of shame and strong shame resilience skills, you still want folks to like, respect, and even admire what you’ve created, but your self worth is not on the table. You know that you are far more than a painting, an innovative idea, an effective pitch, a good sermon, or a high Amazon.com ranking.

"This effort is about what you do, not who you are.

"Regardless of the outcome, you’ve already dared greatly, and that’s totally aligned with your values; with who you want to be.”

I have often said, “I am a writer.” But no. As Brene says, this is about what we do, not who we are. I am not a writer. Writing is what I do. I am a child of God. We writers are successful not because of our acceptance but because we are courageous, putting our work out there and following God’s purpose for our lives.

Per Dr. Brown’s suggestion, I will be carrying with me a one-inch by one-inch piece of paper in my purse. On it, I will have the names of the people who are with me in all my imperfections and whose opinions really matter to me. I’m not going to worry about the rest of the names that won’t fit on that tiny scrap of paper.

So, if you are a creative (I really think we all are), remember Dr. Brown’s words, “This effort is about what you do, not who you are.” Let those words sink deeply into your spirit. Let them change the way you think about your work and who you are.When those rejections come, remember you are already successful in daring to be vulnerable with what you create.

For me, more than at any other time in these past few years, I feel prepared to go to this conference and more resilient to face the process.

After the conference, no matter the response to my work, I am confident I will have something else good to share with Yvonne Lehman.
"What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it--we're called children of God! That's who we really are" (I John 3:1 The Message).  


Julie Garmon said...

Beautiful post! And I love Brene Brown! I've watched her TedTalks several times.

Her words and your words are going deep.

Have a great conference. I know you will!


Beverly Varnado said...

Thanks, Julie. I know you know the path well. Appreciate your encouragement so much.
Love, Bev


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