Surprised by Tears – And the Lessons that Followed


I recently heard a speaker (Emily P Freeman of “A Million Little Ways”) captivate an audience of writers with her suggestions for tackling the thing that would make any one of us obsolete: writer’s block.

Staring at a blank screen with a cursor blinking incessantly in the same spot just plain bugs.  When your most effective and cheapest form of therapy is to put words to your feelings so you can name it, claim it and move on and the words don’t come, rest assured irritability is about to rear its ugly head.

A writer with writer’s block is like a border collie locked up in a New York sky-rise or my youngest daughter without anyone to watch her latest shenanigans.  Sheer madness.

So, Ms. Freeman suggested writers pay attention to certain things in order to combat this dreaded dilemma; one of which is to notice what makes us cry.

Tears signify deep emotion. Emotion signifies something we care about.

Write about that.

I’m not typically a “cryer.” Maybe postpartum or deeply grieved, but I don’t usually carry a handkerchief in my clutch. So, when my underused tear ducts get a workout, I hunt for words.

As most of you know, last week I pitched my book proposal at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference. The conference itself was awesome! Emotional worship, amazing women, informative break-outs and inspiring keynote speakers: Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Renee Swope. Heavy-hitters every one.

The reception my book proposal received was…not so awesome.

Honestly, I went into the weekend knowing the cards were stacked against me. Though I have been known to string a few semi-coherent thoughts together, my “platform” is grievously petite. (That’s a fancy way of saying not many people follow little old me on social media.)

A puny platform does not a best-selling author make – at least not in today’s publishing industry. Not to mention “memoir” (though I personally don’t think my book fits squarely into that genre), doesn’t sell well unless you’re Kim Kardashian or have recently landed a jumbo jet in the Hudson. Big fat goose-egg for me on both accounts.

Even though I knew rejection was highly likely, I still felt-blindsided by the rascally tears that followed. So I did what any respectable forty-year-old mother of four would do.

I holed up in my hotel room.

I kicked off my heels, pulled out my journal and called my husband. Then, I texted my sweet She Speaks sisters who I affectionately refer to as, “The Courtneys.” (Courtney DeFeo @LilLightOMine & Courtney Westlake @BlessedByBrenna)

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These girls are super rad. Both have agents, both are writing books, and both are the real deal! (If you want to read more about their stories, click here: Lil Light O Mine & Blessed By Brenna)

And because they are the real deal, I couldn’t hide for long. Before I knew it, Courtney DeFeo was knocking on my door with a complete (at least at that point) and utter stranger. But rest assured (Karmen) doesn’t stay a stranger for long. Her big, beautiful personality snapped me right out of my funk. These women offered laughs, perspective and much-needed words of encouragement.

Though my first appointment with a publisher didn’t go so well, at least the second guy took the proposal. He flipped through the pages representing my blood, sweat and tears and said he would, “Take a look at it and get back to me.” Hey, I’ll take it! At least my book bag on the flight home was one proposal lighter.

As I reflect on the tears of that day, a few thoughts come to mind:

1. I guess I care more about publishing this book than I thought.

2. Friends (no matter how new) that pursue you with smiles and hugs prove laughter is indeed the best medicine.

3. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. Rejection removes any shred of an overinflated ego.

4. Just because my book doesn’t fit someone else’s needs doesn’t mean it’s not worth writing.

5. My job is to be obedient to what God has asked me to do and He will take care of the rest. After all, the whole thing is for His renown!

6. Even though my human audience is small, my biggest audience is the One who really matters.

So, onward and upward I go. I will write and re-write. Edit and painstakingly edit again. Self-publishing is a super viable option and one I look forward to exploring.

I have enjoyed this much needed break. I will hit it hard when my little tribe head back to class. For now, the final dog-days of summer await.

Stay tuned… I don’t think you’ve heard the last from me! And I want to extend a huge shout out to all the She Speaks staff and attendees. I am better for knowing you. And I truly cannot WAIT to read your books!

PS – This cartoon made me laugh. Again, good medicine. Just sayin’

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4 Comments

  1. oh my precious friend. the two courtneys also have really bad hair the final morning of she speaks. but onto this awesome post. YOU are the real deal. a true friend. a FANTASTIC writer and that is a true gift of yours. He isn’t done with that. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds my friend. sorry about that stranger thing in the midst of your breakdown but if it was anyone else – i wouldn’t done it. karmen is just good medicine as you mentioned. i am so proud of your courage. how you kept cheering the other courtney on in the midst of a hard weekend. honored to be your friend.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Nerves, Tears and Beach Balls, Oh My!: Encountering God at #SheSpeaks14 | teamnilsen

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