7/30/16

What I've Learned in June 2016: Lesson 3

As you might have noticed, Stan had a makeover. Isn't he so pretty??? *swoons over baby* I'm not 100% sure I'm in love with all my changes, so if you have an opinion on it please tell me!

Today I'm going to be going over lesson 3 of the fabulous things I've learned this June. Would you like to know what it is? HMMMMM? *blinks owl eyes* 

Well. Over the three days of the writing conference, all the authors expressed such belief in us. They really, truly had faith that we would grow to be amazing authors. And it was so inspiring. 

In the month or so leading up to the workshop, we had to prepare the first three pages of our WIPs to become the best they could possibly be. I spent days editing, tweaking, reading, reading again, and applying critiques from my cousin (while critiquing hers in turn). 

When the day before our departure arrived, I was sick and tired of those first three pages. My cousin and I had nicknamed them #FEET (we make nicknames and hashtags of everything), and at that point to me, they smelled like it. How could I print out these stinky three pages? I couldn't. They couldn't see the light of day. NEVER.

But I was out of time.

So I printed out two copies: one for me, and one for the staff member that would be critiquing it for me. Everyone who entered a one on one critique was to leave their second copy of their WIP with their critiquer. The pages would then be considered among the others to go on for a THREE CHAPTER critique from editors from either HarperCollins or Penguin/Random House.

Such an amazing opportunity, right? So exciting! 

But not for me. Because in my mind, my writing sucked. It sucked a lot. It was so terrible, in fact, that I knew there was no chance in the whole world that my little manuscript could be chosen. Who cares about the hours upon hours of time I poured into it, the passion I felt (and still feel) for this story? It was terrible. I just wasn't good enough yet. 

But apparently, I was wrong.

My manuscript was chosen. The Thief's Conspiracy. My child. It was chosen to go to editors from one of my dream publishers. She called my name up first, and I sat in my seat in stunned silence, sure she hadn't really meant to call my name. Sure she'd made some big mistake. I sat there, staring calmly, waiting for her to say, "Oh sorry. I meant Hannah Smith." Or correct herself to some other writer who was better than me.

But she didn't. She waited until my arms moved and my feet tensed and I rose from my chair and walked up onto the stage to stand before the group of writers that I'd spent the last three days with.

I'd been chosen.

I couldn't fathom it. She called one name, and then another: my cousin. My cousin ran up to me and we hugged and that was when it really started to sink in.

This was happening. But ... how? How? How could this be happening to me? Nothing made sense. The lights were so bright up there, and everything was a haze of gold and gray. A smile grew onto my face, so big it hurt. I didn't understand how this could be. But it was. It had happened.

Which leads to the next lesson I learned this June.

Give yourself some credit. You are better than you think you are.

As a writer, I've always been full of doubt and confliction. Dangerous thoughts and questions swirl on my mind daily. Is this what God has planned for me to do with my life? But I'm really not that good. How can I write what He wants me to? How can I ever succeed in this career that holds my heart? 

This is my explanation for why I was gone all of June, and why my posts were so short in July. I've been slaving away ever since the workshop, whipping my first three chapters into shape. I sent them off on the twentieth. Ten days ago. 

The future is a big, scary place. Anything could happen. I don't know who The Thief's Conspiracy will go to. There are two editors. I don't know which one my baby will fall in the hands of. But I know God has a plan.

You are your own harshest critic. You think your writing is terrible? I can promise you, your writing is not as bad as you think it is. It never has been. You look at it and see the potential for what it could become, but it's never been terrible. 

Believe in yourself. Believe in God. He's got a plan, and it's bigger than you give Him credit for.

Go write, guys! Write from your heart. Let the words pour from your soul and onto the page. Smile! You are beautiful. God has a plan for you. And it is greater than you can possibly think, feel, or imagine. 

Do you have trouble giving yourself a break? Have you ever had an experience like this? Please share your stories! And if you have any thoughts on my blog changes, I'd really appreciate them! 

<3 

7/23/16

You are Good Enough (it's the truth!)

"I will never be good enough."

Ouch.

I've struggled with this for a long time. "I will never be good enough." And, ever since I began striving to be better, began actively studying the bible, God has taken my hand and slowly, gently, began to show me the truth.

I've believed a lot of lies.

This is one of them.

I have a funny issue. I will believe something about myself, and part of me will know it's wrong, but part of me will keep whispering, "No, it's true. It's so true."

And I won't fully, truly understand how wrong it is until someone else tells me that same lie in application to themselves. Then I see the dirtiness of the lie, the wrongness of it, and say, "NO! That is NOT true. Here's why ..." and then, when I'm not emotionally connected to it, when I'm not taking it in application to me and I'm finding the answer for another person, the truth comes to light. Hopefully for both of us.

In this case, I have Grace to thank. She commented on my last post saying that she didn't feel her writing was "good enough". Before that comment, I had no idea what I was going to post about. I've learned so much in June, I didn't know where to go next. So I prayed for something that would uplift and encourage. God never fails, does He?

(Thank you, Grace. I hope you don't mind me mentioning your comment! <3 )



"I will never be good enough."

Do you believe this?

This is a tricky lie. See, in some ways, it is true. But in others, it is sooooo so wrong.

It all depends on this question: What is our definition of "good enough"?

There are two ways you can take this (actually, there are probably more but I'm going to handle two different ways today).

Here's the first.


"I will never be good enough because ... I can never be perfect."


In this aspect of the "never good enough" issue, you are under the impression that you can never be "good enough" in regards to earning your salvation and deserving God's love.

In this case, you are right. You can't. You can not earn your salvation. Your salvation is a gift from our loving Father. Nothing you will ever do can make you deserving of that.

BUT. (here's the catch)

You don't have to be good enough. You don't have to be perfect, because you CAN'T be perfect. Not on your own, at least.

The New Testament talks a lot about being "perfect". But what does that mean? Matthew 5:48 says, "Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

What does that mean? How can we be perfect like God?

We can't. BUT. We can.

Hehe. Ehem. Allow me to explain.

We can't. Not on our own. But since Jesus died, and his blood continually washes our sins away as we walk in His light (1 John 1:7-9) we are perfect. We are perfect and pure and holy so that we can stand before God, blameless and clean.

But not by our own deeds. Only by Jesus can we be "good enough".

So yes, you can never be good enough. Not on your own. So the good news is, you don't have to be. You just have to do your best. Which leads to the second way you can take this lie.

The second way you take this lie is by thinking you can't be good enough in regards to, "My writing will never be good enough" or "I will never be good enough at sports" or just plain, "I will never be good enough."

And if you're just taking that lie like that, then ... You're wrong.

IF. (here's the catch to this lie)

If you are being the best you can be in the moment you are living, then you are good enough. If you are trying your hardest, if you are being the best you you can possibly be, then you ARE good enough. You are being as good as you can be. And that is enough.

Why torture and hate yourself for not being more than you can be in the moment you are living? If I write a story, and I edit it until it shines with all the skill I am capable of, then -- in THAT MOMENT -- I have done the best I can.

And that is enough.

I can't do more. Not yet. I will grow as the days pass, and more so as months follow. And when years have gone by, and I am in college, or I am out of school and have a job, I will be better than I was today, but I will still be growing. I will never stop growing.

There is no mark I can hit where I can say, "Okay! That's enough! I am exactly at the place I want to be so I can just stop trying now." That can't happen. Why are you hating yourself because you are not who you can't be?

If you are doing your best, then you are your best. And that's what we've got to do. That's what we're aiming for and striving for. To live lives worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1-2), always striving to be the best we can be.

We all mess up. We all constantly fall short and make mistakes. But if you're being as good as you can be, then you are good enough.

Have you battled with this lie? Does this post help you see the truth, or start you down the road that will lead you to it? Are there any aspects I didn't cover, or bits of advice/verses you've found? 

7/16/16

What I Learned in June 2016: Lesson 2

Authors are people too.

*gasp*

Shocking, isn't it? It's true though.

Before going to the Minneapolis Young Writers Workshop, I had 1) never met a published author, 2) never heard an author speak on their craft, 3) never been to a book signing, and 4) never been in a class with an author.

BUT LOOK HERE I MET AUTHORS AHHH. *spams you with pictures*


Jacqueline West and me


Bribing Jonathan Friesen with pizza


Getting my books signed by Jen!


All the fantasy writers (about 11) were in a private
class with Jennifer Nielsen and it was FABULOUS!


And then I got my picture with her! *fangirls*


There are a lot of other things I had never done but did over the workshop (LIKE MEETING SOME OF MY ONLINE WRITER FRIENDSSSSS AHHHHHHHHHHH), but these are the main ones I want to talk about today.

I think it's safe to say we've all struggled with this at one point. Authors seem so BIG, right? Before I started writing, this was the reason I hadn't tried. I mean, come on? I was a little christian home-school girl from a small town. Surely I wasn't 'author material.' Authors are so big and cool, right? Their names are printed on books that sit on shelves in book storesBook. Stores.all over the country, and even the whole world. They have their own websites. When you look them up, you find their fancy author pictures.

What's more, a LOT of people know their names.

J. K. Rowling, for instance. EVERYONE knows that name. (Unless you've lived in an underground bunker for ten years, cut off from all outside communication, in which case you probably wouldn't be able to read this post.)

Yet if you were to meet her and talk with her, you'd probably come to the same conclusion I did over the workshop.  Since, you know. It's kind of true.

Authors are people too. 

They, just like you, have fears and doubts and insecurities. Believe it or not, THEY WRITE TERRIBLE FIRST DRAFTS TOO. (or so they say)

They've had failures just like they've had successes. They've faced challenges they had to overcome. They've pushed forwards. They've fought for what they do.

These writers? They're people like you and me. They started out bad, just like everyone else. But they got better because they tried. And they kept trying until they succeeded.

Never stop trying. The moment you give up is the moment you lose. You'll never see your book on a shelf, with your name printed all fancy on the cover, if you stop.

Keep writing. Keep trying. Become one of those author people. Don't give up.

Have you ever met an author? Was it like you expected, or were you like me and surprised to find they were actually humans? XP

7/9/16

What I Learned in June 2016: Lesson 1

HAI GUYS!

It's been a while. I've missed you all! *hugs all the lovely people* I regret to say that I am only coming back for a short post, and my posts will likely be pretty short until the end of the end of July. In the meantime, I've learned sooooo much in June, I need to write multiple posts to try to capture what I can of it all.

In short, the month of June was 193482039481409 times more crazy than I'd given it credit to be. I did not have a single day where I didn't have something going on somewhere, and I didn't have any time to take a breath and say hello to all you lovely stalkers people.

The first week of June I had a lovely day camp with my church. Our theme was, "I Am Mine No More" and it was lovely and beautiful and encouraging and eye opening. It ended on Wednesday, and then I had a babysitting job and lots of packing for the workshop to do.

And THEN.

Here's the first big thing that happened guys.

And I've got to tell the story dramatically because I AM A WRITER, OKAY? Okay. Thank you for understanding.

You see, my friends surprised me before I left for Minnesota. On Friday, June 10th, I received a text from one of my writer friends that lives near me. She told me she had a gift for me and asked if she could come by my house and give it to me.

As I've said, I have a big family. When we are getting ready for a vacation, the house is C R A Z Y. And we were leaving the very next day for a nine day vacation, so I saw the text and was kind of like, "ummmmmmmmmm."

I asked if I could meet her in town after work instead, and she agreed. I met her outside our local coffee shop. I went to her car door and opened it and she had this big box in her lap.

I was really surprised. At this point, I'd been thinking she probably got me a journal or a book or something. But this was way too big. And when she handed it over, it was heavy.

At this point, I was really bewildered. I just kept thinking, What on earth?

She handed me a card. "Read this first," she said. "It will explain everything."


I opened the card.


Inside were the names of twelve of my online friends. And as soon as I saw those names, I realized what must be in the box. But how? How could they do this for me? And why?


And as soon as I saw the dell logo, I knew for sure.

For some reason that I can hardly fathom, twelve of my online friends had gotten together and bought me a laptop.

I cannot begin to explain how much this means to me. I am still reeling in shock. I do not deserve this gift, and yet it has been given to me.

I am so, so thankful to everyone who pitched in and helped make this happen. Not only did they give me a laptop (which I am using to write this post, by the way), but I have been given so much more. They taught me something I could not learn on my own.

This post is already getting long, so I'm going to wrap up with this first lesson I learned this June.

You are never as alone as you think you are.

Writing is a lonely business. It's sad and scary and stressful. Few people understand exactly what we're doing, and even fewer can understand the pain that it causes us.

To realize that I was not alone - and for a really strange reason, I felt this way - to realize that there were people out there who believed in me enough to make this happen for me and give me this amazing gift, was a huge relief and encouragement to me.

I had felt so alone, but I wasn't. There were so many people out there who believed in me, and there still are. I was just blinded by my own stupidity and low self esteem.

See me? That's me. Holding a laptop. I HAVE A LAPTOP, GUYS.

Never be fooled into thinking you are alone. This is one of the worst lies you could ever hold. Don't let it get to you. There are lots of writers out there, and we writers are crazy amazing and encouraging. Even if you don't have many writing friends, make some! There are tons of people out there who you can reach out to. People out there who believe in you, even if they don't know you very personally.

Because some of these people I don't even know that well. One of them I'd never even talked to. I'd just seen her around the Go Teen Writer's Facebook group. Yet she was willing to help make this happen for me.

People can be so good. And writers, especially, are an amazing group of people.

Make writer friends and stick with them. Lean on them.

You are not alone.

How about you guys? Do you have many writing friends? Have they taught you lessons you could never have learned on your own? Share your thoughts with me! <3