On Being Brave

In January, I shared my secret--that I finally had an idea for a book. (July actually marks the year anniversary that the idea first popped into my head.) Over the past six months, this little idea has morphed into a full-fledged plot with a beginning, middle, and end, full of characters that I have grown to love and loathe, and a sense of place that has taken root in my mind. I know exactly where this is going; I've written many of the key scenes; it's the connecting parts that have me stumped. But I'm still chipping away, trying to become disciplined in the process of writing a little each day. After all, that's how you eat an elephant--one bite at a time. And that's how stories come to life--word after word after word...

 I am not ready to share what this book is about. I am tentatively telling my close friends, "I'm writing a book" almost in a whisper, just to try this "writer" thing on and also for a little accountability. Only a few in my inner-circle know the plot. I've only read what I've written to one special person because she was held captive in the car for several hours. She swears she loves it, but that's what I expect her to say--she's one of my Soul Sistas, and that's what I need to hear right now. I'm not ready for anyone to tell me that my baby is ugly.

This is not an easy story to tell. It's not a simple, sweet story that most would expect me to write (remember, I am tattooed rebel now). It's YA Contemp (for those not familiar with the lingo--that's Young Adult Contemporary, what once was called "Realistic Fiction") that covers some pretty controversial topics, which most books worth reading do these days. I did not set out to write about these issues--they came to me in the voices of these characters that won't be quiet (and I'm thankful for their constant chatter because without them there is no story to write). The more I pray for God to guide me in this process, the louder their voices become. So I have to write them down to silence them in my head. Through giving them a voice, I am finding some peace.

As I've written before, I am still so freakin' scared. I am often paralyzed with fear when I start playing the "what if" game. First, comes my Constant Worry about pleasing others--What are people going to think? What if people hate it? What if people find it offensive? (because they probably will).  And then comes my Arch-Nemesis--Self-Doubt, which neglects the "what ifs" and goes straight to the NOTs and the NEVERs. This is NEVER going to be published because it's NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and you will NEVER finish it.  You DO NOT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES to push though this marathon of a process. You CAN NOT even commit to a training program to run a 5K, so you will NEVER achieve this goal. Never Ever. NEVER.

And then comes the Guilt--oh, how I have perfected the art of Mommy Guilt. What is all of this for? Your writing time is time taken away from your girls. It's time that you tell them to go read, play, watch a movie so that "Mom can get  some writing done." So when nothing comes of this, that's a huge chunk of time that you've lost with them.  Go be a Mom. That's what you are. You are not an author. 

Fear shrouded in Worry, Self-Doubt, Guilt...they are my constant companions, and I wish I could just kick their ass.

But in some of my better moments, when the muse takes hold and the momentum starts to build, I read what I wrote and my confidence starts to build a little, and I think, This is good. I'd read this! I think teens and adults will actually want to read this!  But then another enemy starts her self-righteous whispers. You are so brave for writing a controversial story. For creating these real-world characters who are dealing with the messy realities of life--the gray areas that have our country divided and shouting. Look at you, you brave little writer,  you are giving voice to characters who are living on the fringes, who can't check-off all of the boxes that traditional America loves to list and embrace. 

Whatever. It's easy to be brave in a world you've created--to hide behind a computer screen and get lost in the fantasy of fiction. To move "people" around like pieces on a chess board--to play God in a way. I expect the Fear and Self-Doubt to creep in, but I'm really ashamed of the smug, self-righteous whispers. Those have got to stop.

Throughout this spring and early summer, one song has been the cry of my soul, my mantra. It's my muse, my "pre-game jam" that I listen to get PUMPED UP to write. It's "Brave" by Sara Bareilles.

This past week I've been reminded what true bravery looks like. It's not my story to tell, so I won't, but it made me realize this truth: People are living lives like my characters. IN REAL LIFE. They can't turn off their computer, flip the page, put down the pen, and go back to the comfortable life that many Americans embrace as "natural" and "right"--being a Mom, a wife, with the traditional family. They are being shunned for their sexuality, for their lifestyles, for the essence of their being--all in the name of "conviction." (I'm getting really sick of that word, by the way. Conviction is between God and me. God convicts my heart, and until I work through those issues--getting right with God, and I think that might take a while--then I have no right to throw my "convictions" on others; when I turn that conviction outward to others, then it becomes judgement, and where there is judgement there is an absence of love. I know that many disagree with me on this, but that's just they way I see it).

So I'm putting all of this out there as a way to wrestle with it--the Doubt, the Fear, the Guilt, the STRUGGLE  with finding my own sense of brave. I am conquering many demons through this process, so there's some bravery to that. But I don't think I'm truly brave because I still fit the mold that so many people accept. True bravery is living an authentic life even when the people around you think it's "wrong." So here's to the brave people that I know, living life to its fullest and being true to themselves when others shun them for it. Here's to people like me who are struggling with what it means to be brave in this world that's so quick to condemn. Here's to all of us as we try to find our way...

"Maybe there's a way out of this cage where you live
maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me, how big your BRAVE is..."

So until then, I'm just going to "let the words fall out..."


  1. Can't wait to read it - when finished, please let me know! Send me a private message in case I don't see a post...and keep writing!! :)

  2. Thank you for the encouragement! It's going to take a LONG time to finish, but I determined to see it through. There's always self-publishing. :)

  3. I just wanna say that i am excited to read this story, even if i don't "know" what it is about. I want to read it because i know that your words are inspiring and i am giddy with the thought that you are wrangling them into book format. I know those silly whispers well, so i wish you all the inspiration and joy a writer could hope to find.

    with love,
    Natasha :)


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