If you've ever wondered as well, here's what I tell them.
I've been asked a number of times by aspiring editors, "How can I start freelance editing?"
If you've ever wondered as well, here's what I tell them.
Writing is scary.
Letting someone read what you've written is even scarier.
When you take that bold new step and put your writing in someone else's hands, two things usually happen.
First, a nauseous wave of panic lurches your stomach, and you hope you didn't suddenly contract a stomach disease
(or is that just me?) .
Next, you desperately hope the person reading your words is supernaturally kind and gentle, and says good things about what you've written. Even if it's all lies. Because you're tender, like a seedling, and you know it.
Hard words, at this point, will crush you.
Maybe even make you die.
Fortunately, both hopes are usually satisfied. The nausea passes, and the person you've dared to share your writing with is someone kind who likes you and delights in cheering you on.
But what happens when the person you've dared to share with doesn't cheer you on?
What if their feedback is harsh, critical, and discouraging?
What if they take a big steaming dump on your writing?
Allow me to breathe some life into just such a heart-wrenching experience.
Some of the most encouraging moments in my life have been completely absent of advice.
The most discouraging moments however, have been rife with advice and platitudes. It’s happened often, when I’ve shared something heavy or sad or stressful that’s been weighing me so low I felt like my arms are dragging on the floor behind me, and the friend, upon hearing my misery, reached into their sack of sayings and dug out whatever they thought would fix me.
For example, in response to my confessing a rising sense of panic in a fearful situation, a friend might say,
“Yeah, everyone’s having a tough time right now.”
“I know what you mean. The other day I was washing the car when…..”
Or, what is infinitely worse,
“Well, Jesus said ‘do not fear’ so there’s no need to feel fear.”
None of these demonstrate excellent listening; they do, however invalidate the person’s feelings and demonstrate that the ‘listener’ has more important things to say than the speaker. Gee, thanks.
I get it. I’ve accidentally discouraged my friends, too.
We mean well.
We really do.
We want to help. Encourage. Inspire and uplift those we care about.
But we don’t know how, so we guess. We grab at what we think should be encouraging, fling it at the problem, and hope it helps.
The thing is, discouraged people aren’t broken, and encouragement isn’t about fixing problems anyway.
Actually, encouragement is not about accomplishing or DOING anything.
Encouragement is about meeting someone where they are, and BEING with them in it.
And it’s much more difficult than it sounds.
When the COVID-19 virus sent us all into isolation, one of my first thoughts was, "Yay! I have all this extra time, I'm so gonna get stuff done!"
I imagined immense productivity and quickly made lists. Spring clean my house. Write two books. Craft a series of articles. Launch two products. Do my taxes. Organize every drawer and closet. Because ... you know... I "should".
Hearing myself say “I should” could have been my first clue that I was putting undue pressure on myself. But it took me until week two to realize just how unrealistic my productivity expectations were.
Every day, news reports counted the increase of the virus spread. More closures. More restrictions on activity. More deaths. More people hit hard at the beginning of what will become a nationwide, worldwide economic crisis. Then there’s the worry for your own health and finances, and the loneliness from being cut off from the world we once knew. From hugging. From working. From being among humans.
Tough as we are, we can’t help but be emotionally impacted by a worldwide pandemic. We just can’t. We’ll feel sorrow, grief, shock, anxiety, fear, worry, stress. The thing is, emotions require more energy and head space than we think. The emotions sure caught me by surprise.
More than that, all this stress can all sap our motivation, weaken our focus, and cripple creativity.
And guess what.
It's okay to not be super-crazy-productive right now.
It's okay to not DO all the things.
The Institute, an Intro
In Stephen King’s novel, The Institute, twelve-year-old Luke Ellis is kidnapped from his room at night. The next morning, wakes up in a room that looks just like his… except it isn’t. There’s no window, for starters. And the door leads not to the hallway of his home, but into a hallway with other doors to other rooms where other children have likewise woken, to their horror, far away from home.
Their caretakers are steely-eyed guards armed with electric prods, compassionless keepers of children. The children, aged seven to fourteen, undergo gruelling tests designed to extract from the kids all the usefulness of their special skills. The kids wish they could extract themselves from the horrors of this place, but no one has ever escaped The Institute.
I’ve been given many names, yet not known who I am.
Those who loved me named me pinhead. A-word. B-word. C-word.
Others, who loved me differently, better, gave me names too; Friend. Gift. Treasure. Lifeline.
And there were many names in between.
So which words about me were true?
Who was I really?
Choosing Which Words to Believe
I remember distinctly the day I chose to believe the good words others spoke over me; an inner power was activated when I chose those words, when I claimed them as mine and let them become part of me.
The Memoir to Read When You're Facing Down Chaos [A Review of "When God Doesn't Fix it" by Laura Story
You know I've been writing my memoir.
... then putting it off, then making myself face it again; face the present, admit the past.
As I've tried to articulate the past, making sense of it, interpreting it, I've also been absorbing others' memoirs.
How do they make sense of their past? Of how it's shaped them?
And why is it helpful - or, better yet, critical - that I read it?
What I've Been Reading
I've read a number of memoirs recently, both to find myself in each one hopefully discovering the secret of how to be a human, and also to absorb the essence of excellent memoir writing so that I could deliver it to my readers, too.
Story telling is about creating connections.
As story tellers, our job is to first connect ourselves to the story, writing authentically from some truth in us. Our second job then becomes to connect readers to the story and characters in a meaningful way.
One of the most effective ways to grab hold of someone’s heart and make them care about your characters and their plight, is through the strategic use of Point Of View (POV). Whatever you think of best-selling author Ted Dekker, I’m sure we can agree on one thing; his adept use of POV is what drives those stories deep into a reader’s heart, and leaves them wondering about those characters long after closing the book.
Life gives us truckloads of opportunity to experience rejection, doesn’t it?
Some of us get more “opportunity” than others.
I’ve come to realize I’m one of the lucky buggers who gets a bigger helping of it than some. From my early childhood yearnings for mommy and daddy to love me more, to best friends inexplicably drifting away or outright stabbing me in the back, to being disowned by family, I’ve had a wide range of experience with being rejected; feeling unloved.
Being rejected, especially by those close to us, is one of the most devastating, soul-crushing experiences we can ever know. A need for belonging is innate in each of us – once our need for food, air, and safety is satisfied, the very next basic human need is for love and acceptance.
Our need for love and acceptance is built into our DNA.
Being loved (or unloved) changes us.
It actually changes who we are; how we see God, the world, and everyone in it. It even affects our sense of hope for the future and our will to live.  It’s like we’re somehow defined by love – like love is our identity. When there’s a lack of it, it messes with who we are.