Tag Archives: writing

The Winding Road to Baker Street: A Guest Post

Welcome to my very first Guest Post, and to sweeten the pot – a Free Prize! Everyone who leaves a comment on this post before April 10th will be entered to win an e-copy of Angela Misri‘s brilliant debut novel – Jewel of the Thames.

When I think of Angela, certain moments come to mind: my first meal of authentic Indian food, dressing up in a sari, whispering into the night and between classes about the great mysteries of life (that’s right – boys). I assumed, the way teenagers do when life is supposed to make sense and you don’t know what you don’t know, that Ang would grow up and become a writer. Of course she would. It seemed so simple.

But life is never a straight line.

So here’s Angela’s story…baker street

There are these moments that <dramatic music please> change your life forever. Christie can attest to this, she and I have shared one or two of these moments over our 20-year (!!!) friendship. These are the moments that led to Jewel of the Thames becoming a reality.

Everything changed for me one spring day in 1992 at an assembly in the gym where, as per usual, I was giggling and whispering with my friends in the audience. Suddenly my name was called by the Principal of the school and I was jostled out from the safety of the herd and to the front of the room. Having not really listened to the preceding speech, I was shocked to learn that a poem I had written as part of a school assignment had been published in an anthology of like-quality poems by Canadian children. The Principal smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen on a teacher, and handed me a copy of the coil-bound anthology, turning me back towards the audience of my schoolmates and starting the applause that followed me back to my safe haven between her best friends.

That was the moment when I discovered that despite being of Indian descent, there were in fact other options for your life’s work than medicine or engineering.

You would think that that moment would be enough to put me on the right path, but no, I struggled gamely through two years of pre-med, an MCAT and a summer dissecting cats in a neurology lab (no, really, it happened) before taking my first University-level Shakespeare course. The class was a requirement for the BSc I was clawing my way towards despite terrible grades in math and physics.

I was getting an A in the class and thoroughly enjoying it, sad that it would be ending, and sad I would be leaving my favourite teacher, Dr. Batycki when on the very last day of class she called me over. My classmates and I were lazily talking amongst ourselves about the spring and plans for the summer, so I remember feeling very comfortable and happy that day. Dr. Batycki stepped outside the classroom, holding the door open for me, and then grasping both my hands in hers, proceeded to tell me that I was a writer. No, not just a person who enjoyed reading and writing, but a person who SHOULD be writing. I of course denied it, explaining that I was going to be a doctor, that maybe someday I would write medical textbooks (my father’s suggestion when years earlier I had asked about writing as a profession) but I was not a writer – that’s just something I did for fun. She smiled at me then, and took up my hands again (which I had dropped in shock and denial) and just said it again, “You are a writer, Angela,” and then patted me on the shoulder and went back into the classroom.

That was the moment I discovered that you can deny your destiny all you want – it will, like Lady Macbeth’s spot – mark you forever to all who meet you.

Between that moment and my truly horrendous marks in math, I switched to English Literature, and excelled, moving further and taking a Masters in Journalism before my 23rd birthday. I wrote my first full-length novel in those years, a historical fiction set in 3B.C. India called ‘Savitri,’ and many poems that will never see the light of day if I have my way. I also wrote a thesis about Sherlock Holmes that would set the stage for the Portia Adams Adventures. It was a psychoanalysis of the great fictional detective in which I postulated that he was bipolar. It was incredibly fun to research and write and allowed me to read everything about Holmes and Conan-Doyle and many of the other authors who had taken to writing about the Baker Street detective since then.

You remember Galadriel’s lines at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” Ok, so my writings were not lost for that long, but for almost 10 years, while I was excelling in Digital Journalism at the CBC and raising my son, I barely wrote anything that wasn’t a news story or a web documentary.

Suddenly, on a trip to San Francisco, I was so inspired by the landscape and colours of the desert that I started writing a short story in my moleskin notebook. That story grew to over 80,000 words of a time-travel novel and inspired more writing, and more poems and suddenly I was writing all the time – stopping only because my hand would cramp up around my pen. I wrote on the train in to work, I wrote at lunch time, I wrote on the ride home, I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

During my last two years at the CBC, I that novel set in San Fran plus three books about detective Portia Adams – 35 moleskin notebooks in all.

During my last two years at the CBC, I wrote that novel set in San Fran plus three books about detective Portia Adams – filling 35 moleskin notebooks in all.

That was the moment when I discovered that I should write novels.

Finally, the pressure of having all these books written with no one to read them got to me and I hung up my headphones (I worked in radio, follow along people) and left the CBC to get published (again).

Life is about moments. These are the ones that led to me becoming a novelist.

Angela, the real life author, at a book signing! Photo by Wayne MacPhail

Angela, the real life author, at a book signing!
Photo by Wayne MacPhail

I’ve already given my review of the book itself, but judge for yourself. Here’s a brief synopsis:

There’s a new detective at 221 Baker Street

jewel of the thames front coverSet against the background of 1930s England, Jewel of the Thames introduces Portia Adams, a budding detective with an interesting — and somewhat mysterious — heritage.

Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There’s nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia puzzles over why she was left in the care of the extravagant Mrs. Jones but doesn’t have long to dwell on it before she is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her new guardian. Once there Portia discovers that she has inherited 221 Baker Street — the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Portia settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, including the handsome and charming Brian Dawes. She also finds herself entangled in three cases: the first involving stolen jewelry, the second a sick judge and the final case revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.

So here’s your big chance, leave a comment here (before April 10th) and you can win a FREE e-copy of Jewel of the Thames! Answer a question, or simply leave your name to be entered into the draw.

What childhood dream have you recently reclaimed?

What moment has changed the trajectory of your life?

Which fictional detective do you most closely resemble?

 

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Freshly WHAT?

Today I was Freshly Pressed.

Naturally, I called my husband right away, to tell him the good news.

“You were freshly WHAT?!”

I suppose it does sound a little unsavoury, if you don’t know what it’s all about.

It’s something I put on my list of 37 birthday wishes this year, right after Snorkle on the Great Barrier Reef, before See Les Miserables (which is coincidentally coming to Vancouver in June, just in case my husband is reading this). It’s like a pat-on-the-back and a see-you’re-not-just-kidding-yourself-about-this-weird-hobby, all rolled into one.

What I didn’t anticipate, is how incredibly intimidating it is.

freshly-pressed-circleWordPress.com is a powerhouse online. They also happen to host my blog. From time to time they pick a blog post to highlight/promote to other bloggers in “Freshly Pressed.” This week I participated in a poetry writing challenge, and my poem was one of the ones chosen. Which is, like, totally awesome (and apparently has me regressing back to my valley-girl days).

All kinds of writers and artists and creative types have read my words. And poked around my blog. And some have even started following it.

Which is wonderful, of course. They’re all very encouraging. I’m kind of amazed at how many there’ve been. I’ve looked at some of their blogs and I’m impressed. I like these people.

The intimidating part, however, is that all kinds of writers and artists and creative types have read my words. Are reading my words. Right now.

And I realize that I start way too many sentences with the words “And” or “But.” And I tend to ramble. And I talk about snot a lot; and other bodily fluids which aren’t nearly as cool as snot. And I rarely post poetry, because it feels more likely to be misunderstood, more naked, than my usual. And part of me wants to duck and hide and change how I do everything from now on.

My words aren’t always pretty.

My life isn’t that glamorous.

My ideas aren’t new.

I’m just me.

But that’s always been the point of this blog. So it’ll have to do. And that’s all there is to it.

So here’s me.

Thanks to Freshly Pressed for the somewhat intimidating, but ultimately thrilling compliment!

And thanks to my long time readers, who’ve given me the confidence to keep trying all this time. I like you best of all!


Once Upon A Time At Our House

I can feel the sun, warm at my back as I push through that final kilometer. My muscles are pleasantly loose. I’m invigorated by my early morning 10K.

Body and soul in perfect unison. The half hour I spent praying in the quiet of my beloved garden, while the sun inched its way up the horizon, has worked it’s magic. This is why I never miss a sunrise.

I sneak into the girl’s bedroom hoping to wake them myself, but they are already up, as usual. L is helping her little sister study for her french quiz while making her bed. C’s voice still sounds a little scratchy, so I suggest she stay home and take it easy. But she can’t be convinced, she’s committed to her school work and hates to miss a day.

After a long, hot shower I lean my ear against the door of the little ones. Not a peep. They are deep sleepers, and rarely stir before breakfast.

I pull out the loaf of bread I made from scratch yesterday. We’ve tried bread machines, but they just aren’t the same. The yeasty smell always puts a smile on my face. Free range eggs, whole grain toast and organic fruit salad are plated and ready to serve when Daddy carries the sleepy-heads to the table.

Our leisurely family breakfasts are always full of laughter and emotional connection. Together, we pray about our worries and hopes for the day, especially for the struggles of those less fortunate than us. I am humbled by the selflessness and empathy my children display.

The ticking of the clock seems louder and we realize it is time to head out the door. I’m so grateful that Glen has time to get the children ready for school each morning. They eagerly scramble into the clothes I carefully chose for them the night before. B is excited to be in panties “like a big girl.” The boy entertains himself quietly while we gather our school supplies. We get hung up making lunches; there are so many choices and they love them all. But this becomes a teachable moment about nutrition and wise decision making.

The kids groan in complaint as I lay a steamy kiss on their Dad. We’re running ahead of schedule again and he’s in no hurry to leave. When I turn around, my offspring are all buckled in to their seats and waiting in the van. We sing silly songs all the way to school.

The best part of the day so far is still to come: the hug and kiss I get from each one before they dance off to their class. “I love you Mom. You do so much for us and I’m going to miss you all day long.”

No wonder I’m a morning person.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

The Weekly Writing Challenge at Word Press this week is:

Try a different genre of writing

This is mine:

FICTION

My true story bears no resemblance to this one, at all.

Except for the part where I woke up before dawn. That happened.

In the true story my day started at 3:30 with a wet-through-her-diaper bed change, then again at 6:00 with a poop-tastrophe. A husband away on business. A sick and crying toddler. A headstrong 8-year-old who refuses to wear socks (panties – don’t even get me started). An eldest daughter who leaves everything to the last minute and forgot to take out her contacts last night. A girl-who-has-too-often-cried-wolf insisting she’s really sick this time. And a Mom who made her go to school anyway, but got called back to pick her up after 1 hour.

But it also includes: the smell of freshly washed hair, footie jammies, a boy who just wants his Mom to hold him and no one else (as a new adoptive parent this is all kinds of awesome), a joke about cats partying which I didn’t understand, but made B laugh and laugh and laugh, a once reluctant reader who is happily ensconced in her bed devouring her 5th Percy Jackson novel right now, a big sister who asked “what can I do to help Mom?” without being prompted AND a man whom I love more than life who is coming HOME tonight!

Oh, and since everyone is in bed and it is quiet right now. A nap!

So here’s me, and life is good, even here in reality.


So You’ve Had a Bad Day…

Have you ever wanted to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over your head and cry like there’s no tomorrow? Have you prayed for a celestial fast forward? Have you asked yourself “what else could possibly go wrong” only to receive an immediate answer? Today is one of those days.

I swore to myself I wouldn’t write ANOTHER one of these woe-is-me-my-life-is-so-hard-pass-the-ativan posts. I am DETERMINED that this not become another bitchy Mommy Blog that whines incessantly,while smugly judging everyone who isn’t as busy/overwhelmed/proverbs 31-ish as myself.

But I write what I know. And Pollyanna I am not.

So tomorrow, or maybe the next day or the one after that, I will craft an eloquent post about the wonders and beauty of marriage and parenthood. Or perhaps, a challenging treatise on the state of the world. Or an exploration of theology vs. spirituality in real life. Or (more likely) a humorous anecdote about the unknown congealed substance that is perpetually decorating my shoulder (I’m actually HOPING it’s just snot).

But today, I’m writing this blog to avoid that crawl back into bed. Because it’s a hard day, and I can’t give into it. I won’t.

The cursor is blinking as I try to decide which direction to take this next paragraph. Shall I list all the many things that have gone wrong today? I can organize it into: ways I have let people down, ways people have let me down, and ways that life just doesn’t work out and there’s not even anyone to blame.

I feel like I’ve written that before (over and over and over again). I’ve certainly read it. And it’s boring, every time. And it doesn’t make anything better.

So instead, I will simply enjoy this moment. Because even on a hard day, writing is something I enjoy; something that cannot be undone or cancelled or infected by sticky-school-kid-viruses or burnt (stupid crock pot).

Most likely you are feeling worse, having read all this. But I’m feeling better. So thanks.

Today is a hard day. And I can’t muster up philosophical. And I’m not ready to joke about it. And I’m not rising up on wings like eagles. But I didn’t crawl back in to bed (yet). And that’s something.

So here’s me, if I can make it to 9 pm then I win! Tomorrow is a new day.


Book Review: You Are A Writer

When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up. I think, “at age 36, WHY on earth are they assuming I’m ever going to grow up?” Then I think, “I want to be a writer.”

But I never said it out loud. It seemed akin to saying, “I want to be an astronaut.” One of those wacky, ridiculous pipe dreams that’s too embarassing to admit past the age of 8.

Then I started blogging. My mom read it. My friends read it. I wrote more and more. People who aren’t even related to me started reading it. I met an english professor who believed in me. That whispered dream was getting louder.

One day last month a stranger asked, “What do you do?”

I answered “I’m a writer.”

Turns out, I am.

Jeff Goins is like a personal trainer when it comes to writing. Not the harsh, yelling-in-your-face kind of trainer who makes you feel like a flabby, pathetic worm, but the other kind: the one that inspires and motivates you to become your best self.

I have learned so much about writing, blogging and this weird little world of social media from his blog, goinswriter.com. When I had a chance to read and review his new e-book, I responded with a dignified and professional, “Oh yes, certainly”… okay, fine, I jumped up and down waving my arm in the air: “I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Pick me! Pick me!” – like the total nerd that I am.

You Are A Writer (So Start ACTING Like One) is both the shot in the arm and the kick in the pants I need in this creative lifestyle. It is a toolbox of ideas geared specifically towards writers, but anyone with an artistic calling could benefit.

His premise is simple: “Believe you already are what you want to be. And then start acting like it.” I can’t think of an area in my life where this isn’t good advice – as a writer, in my faith, as a parent, or as a human being.

So here’s me; I am a writer.


How Do You Find The Time?

It’s a question I’ve asked many times. I ask people who garden, people who decorate their homes, people who floss… How do you find the time?

It’s also the most frequent question I get about blogging. How do you find the time? The answer is simple.

You don’t.

Time does not spontaneously appear when you say the magic words. (Unless they happen to be “we-don’t-really-need-TSN-in-our-house”, because I’m sure my husband’s free time would grow exponentially at that point.)

Time is a limited resource, and often one that feels out of our control. I’ve always admired those buttoned up, disciplined souls who manage their time with military precision. I’m an orderly person, but trying to emulate them leaves me exhausted, cranky and desperately unhappy. Usually I find myself somewhere in the middle – enough routine to keep life moving, but margins for the unexpected (and the occasional hour of blissful uselessness).

Whether you wing it from one moment to the next, or plan your day down to the minute, we are all subject to the same limitations.

86,400 seconds

1,440 minutes

24 hours

Each day, everyday, it’s all we’ve got.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. In this day and age, we can do almost anything, but we can’t do everything!

When I choose to make something a priority, then I am going to have to sacrifice somewhere else. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with this necessity. No one has it all together – even if they look the part. Look at Martha Stewart. She has a large, talented staff and a bazillion dollars to help her get things done. But even she drops the occasional ball along the way. Her foray into white collar crime wasn’t terribly successful.

This is why my backyard looks like the set of Jurrasic Park. Who decided grass was the superior weed anyway? Dandelions are cheerful and prolific, plus my kids love them. This is also why I have boxes of pictures in the garage, not from our most recent move, but from the one before that nine years ago. I’m honestly working on the flossing thing. My brother-in-law is training to be a dentist and I don’t want him to know that I’ve had five cavities in the last year. Shhhhhh.

You don’t find time for the things that matter to you, you make it. In my busy life stage, this tends to be in bite-sized pieces scattered throughout the day. We pray in the van on the way to school. While driving, I’ve also found time to discuss important issues with my kids – like sex, work ethic, the value of money and whether American Idol is better with or without Simon Cowell. I talk on the phone while I fold laundry. I write my blog posts anytime, anywhere… there are notebooks all over my house, in my purse, in the car. I have written entire posts in blue crayon, because that was all I had at the time.

This is my very first blog post.
Written in my daughter's My Little Pony colouring book.

Right now:

Mount Clean Laundry is mocking me from atop my bed.

Life-Span in Human Development is taunting me from the kitchen table.

I can hear echoes of crucial sibling posturing in the hallway.

So here’s me, quite happily blogging away. THIS is how I find the time.

How do you find the time to do what matters to you? What are you willing to sacrifice?


The Great Educational Debate: Grades vs. Learning

I’ve had a recurring nightmare for the past few weeks. Perhaps I should call it a “day-mare” since I’m usually awake when it slithers into my conscious mind.

I’m at the University, where I started taking classes in January. With shaking hands I turn in my Developmental Psychology paper, worth 60% (60%!!!!!!!) of my final grade.

In the inexplicable way that dreams often do, I skip ahead to the return of my graded essay. On the top is a giant red F.

F for fraud. F for faker… F for Failure.

The teaching staff morphs from my likeable Scottish professor into a group of angry, faceless beings. They shake their heads in disgust and instruct security to escort me from the premises immediately. I am ordered never to return again.

This neurotic little fantasy has not inspired me to greatness. I stare blankly at my laptop with the words 60%, 60%, 60%!!!!! echoing through my mind. After two weeks of false starts and half-hearted research The Impact of the Environment on the Cognitive Development of Preschool Children is no closer to being done than when I started. The pressure is paralyzing.

On the other hand…

It’s so different with my English assignments. I was thrown the first time I received one back with only witty comments and suggestions scrawled in the margins. I looked carefully through each page and even on the back. No mark.

I’ve been conditioned to work for a grade. I was slightly miffed. If I am not being measured, does it even count?

But I find myself craving these assignments. They flow easily. I enjoy them. It is some of my best work.

Because I forgot…

I attended a workshop at school last week: Study Skills for the Mature Student. Despite my penchance for slurpees and children’s fiction, the university has decided I am “mature”. It sounds so respectable. I’m not about to argue.

The speaker reminded us that we are here to collect knowledge, not grades. Marks do not always reflect learning. And my GPA is not a measure of my worth.

She seemed like a nice kid. And frankly, it’s the same advice I’ve given to my own kids. I know this. Now that I’m “mature” I shouldn’t need to be reminded of the obvious. But I do.

So I set aside my need to get an “A” on my psych paper, which somewhere along the way became a way to prove my worth to the entire academic community (who, I’m sure, are on pins and needles wanting to know just what I have to say). In fact, I chucked the whole topic and started over again. Successful Ageing: the Cognitive, Emotional and Social Effects is working out much better for me. And no, the irony of the topic does not escape me.

What works and what doesn’t…

The entire educational system is structured around extrinsic rewards; the carrot and the stick, so to speak. Jump through these hoops and you get such-and-such a number or letter to reflect your value. Do not perform according to some, often arbitrary, standard and you will be punished.

This kind of conditioning works fabulously for simple, mechanical tasks. Eat your supper, get dessert. Ignore your chores, no TV. But it doesn’t work so great for anything that requires creativity and complex thinking.

In fact, studies show that incentives, especially high value ones, have a very NEGATIVE effect on creative productivity. They are not the motivating factor we expect. Rather than performing better, people perform WORSE when a reward is on the line. The “carrot and stick” of extrinsic motivators inhibits innovation and discourages critical thinking.

People are inspired to greatness by intrinsic motivations: curiosity, imagination, creativity, and personal satisfaction, to name a few. We were designed to learn and grow. In a pressure-free, encouraging environment we do this so much better! This is the reason my ungraded assignments excite my best work, while the high pressure paper overwhelms me entirely.

Dan Pink gives a brilliant talk called The Surprising Science of Motivation which makes this point better than I ever could! He is mostly interested in its application in the business world; companies who make amazing strides by loosening control. Instead of bigger incentives, they are giving autonomy and a sense of purpose to their employees, with remarkable results.

What would happen if we did the same thing in education? Students who learn because they are interested in the discussion and excited to play a part, not merely regurgitating what the teacher wants to hear. Nurturing thinkers and artists and builders, not a pecking order based on a narrow set of skills.

I’ve had a few teachers who truly believed this over the years. They seem revolutionary, more interested in what I had to contribute, than in measuring me (or themselves). There’s a reason they make so many cheesy “teacher-inspiring-a-tough-inner-city-class-to-greatness” movies. Because teachers like that really do exist and they make all the difference.

So here’s me, 60% certain that the grade on my paper does not define me.


Commas

I love to write and I always have, ever since I started writing short stories about Rascal the Raccoon in the back of my grade 3 exercise book when I was supposed to be learning my times tables. I may not be the most brilliant author of all time (every single Rascal Raccoon story started and ended exactly the same, after all), but I’m fairly confident in my skills, except for one thing: I’ve never been very good with commas. It seems like such a small thing, but it can make all the difference between a well-crafted sentence and a wordy, unreadable mess.

I didn’t always appreciate this fact. When I recruited a friend to proofread my English 11 essay on Macbeth, I was frustrated by his insistence on punctuational accuracy. I mean, who cares about commas, periods and semi-colons when I have important things to say? But he knew these little breaks make a huge difference. He was a good editor.

So, I decided to keep him… and now, when my husband edits my blog posts, he teases me about my poor punctuation. Even with the casual format of blogging, I need to do better. In my last post he had to add only one comma; that’s my all-time record!

“Say it out loud; wherever you take a natural pause, that is where you put a comma” he says.

I’ve never been good with commas, in writing or in life. There are times when I need a deliberate pause. Time to take a breath before moving on to the next thing.

I tend to operate at two speeds: go and stop. When I am really busy, I often forget to eat or even to take reasonable bathroom breaks. There’s nothing dignified about a 35 year old woman doing the pee-pee dance, because she just had to get one more thing done. And on the rare occasions when I’m not busy, inertia begins to set in and it’s hard to get my butt off the couch at all. Yet life, like good writing, flows best with an unhurried rhythm and the occasional pause.

Today I needed a pause. I needed to get out of the house and find some solitude. I felt guilty about it. I worried about all the things I should be doing (knowing full well I wasn’t going to do them even if I did stay home). I asked my husband repeatedly if he minded, until he was irritated at me for thinking the world would fall apart if I left for a few minutes. “It must be hard being a single mom” (his new favourite line from Modern Family). When I finally took a walk in the woods, it was EXACTLY what I needed. Why do I fight it?

What if I took a few minutes each day to enjoy what is, rather than worry about what still needs to be done? What if I saw interruptions as a natural pause in my life, not a ghastly inconvenience? What if I took a moment to pray, to listen, and to catch my breath, whenever I can, all day long?

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

~ Jesus (Matthew 11: 28-30)

I’ve never been good with commas, but I have a good editor who’s teaching me to do better.

So, here’s me, embracing the comma.


Get Naked

I got naked in church yesterday. It wasn’t easy, but I was brave. I decided to bare it all.

No, I wasn’t streaking in the sanctuary. Nor did I go topless to prayer meeting (that’s never going to happen, just to be clear). I only stripped in a metaphorical sense.

I’ve been organizing an art project for the past several months. Half a dozen artists each painted a canvas to represent a different name of God. The result has been eclectic and chaotic and more than a little bit awesome. Each piece is so unique, and listening to the stories behind them has been inspiring.

Most of the artists have snuck into the office with their canvas wrapped in layers of paper and clutched to their chest so no one can see it. It takes visible effort for them to hand it over. I would pat their hand and say something reassuring, all the while wondering what their problem was. These are beautiful works of art… what’s with the hesitant shuffle and apologetic explanations?

Then I decided to make one of my own. Granted, this is not my medium; I am a writer, not an artist. I knew I would be the only novice in the company of accomplished artists. But we are hoping to open this project up to everybody in the church – so someone should represent the regular folks. We all have a voice, and the purpose of this project is to give everyone a chance to worship this way.

I had a great idea. I still love that idea. The final product isn’t perfect, it isn’t everything I hoped it would be, but it’s still a little piece of me.

So now, it’s me sneaking into the office clutching my canvas to my chest, afraid to show a single person. And I realized that this isn’t a new feeling. It reminds me of the way my heart drops into my stomach immediately after I press the “publish” button on this blog.

I write for myself. I enjoy the process. All day long I scribble random thoughts and phrases on scraps of paper. I would probably do it even if no one ever read it. But the minute I put it out there for the world to see I start to feel a little bit naked.

Does it say what I want it to say?

Will they understand?

Will they like it?

Will they like me?

And there it is. The crux of the matter. To quote George McFly “I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection.”

So here’s me, with a new appreciation for nudists and artists alike.


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