Monday, May 23, 2011

unused gifts are wasted gifts...

everyone has a gift...what's yours?

In a blog post a few months ago (you can read it here) I said I would post a journal entry about my very first writing conference. So, in celebration of all the upcoming and amazing conferences (that I can't go to this year...), here's a little encouragement to take that leap and not be afraid of trying (warning, it is straight from my journal, unedited but real):

"My writing conference ended today. I’m relieved it’s over. It was an intense week of writing and editing and learning. I felt so inadequate, knowing there were future Newberry award winners sitting next to me. The writers were amazing and I felt like a fraud.

"I was the last person to be edited today, in our group of 13. SO, I had to sit through everyone’s brilliant manuscripts, comparing them to my wimpy one. As the week went on I became more embarrassed of mine and wondered if anyone would be able to find anything good to say.

"Martine Leavitt was my instructor and had us give ten minutes of positive feedback and ten minutes of constructive criticism. I was actually quite shocked when the people in my group told me how much fun they had reading my story, and how they felt like they knew and loved my characters. Matthew Kirby was the only guy in my class. He was very well read and had so many intelligent things to add to every critique, and I was sure he wouldn’t like mine at all, being a cheesy romance story. It floored me when he said I “paint with words.” You can’t get a better complement than that.

"Of course there was also the constructive criticism about how I need to find my point of view and decide who my story was about. It was very confusing. One person really liked one sentence or paragraph I wrote, while another said it was weak and needed to be changed. I came home and thought this isn’t my talent. I decided it was a nice learning experience but I am not a writer.

"But just now I decided to read my Book of Mormon before bed. My bookmark happened to be on the very last chapter. In verse 8 it says “deny not the gifts of God for they are many.” And verse 18 says “and I would exhort you, my beloved brethren that ye remember that every good gift comes from Christ.” And verse 30 says, “come unto Christ and lay hold upon every good gift.”

"Those words made my heart pound. I don’t know if I’m a true writer, or if my words will ever be published anywhere besides my own home, but I know now that I have to try because it is in me. I have stories to tell and I have always told them to myself, whether anyone ever saw them or heard them or not.

"One of the instructors (I can't remember her name) said she had a dream that she died and went to heaven. She asked the angel where the library was, and he brought her to a place with lots of books. She looked around and said, “I’ve read most of these. Where are the books I haven’t read yet?” he took her into a hallway that grew tighter and tighter and tighter, and took her into a little room with books all over the walls. Some of the books had her name on them. The angel told her, “These are the books that were never written.”


  1. Wow. I really like this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love reading your blog. I was so rushed the other day that I never got to respond one of your latest posts, one amazing story. I will always remember that. 60 rejections! I thought two was bad.

    I'm feeling scared as the conference approaches. I'm sure I'll be in a room with amazing and talented writers who look at me and think, "What is she doing here?" While I think the exact same thing.

    You, on the other hand, are one of those amazing and talented writers!

  3. That class changed my life, too. Martine gave me permission to write. I always felt slightly guilty about it before that. And I loved that story by Dandi Mackall. I didn't hear her tell it until a couple of years later, but I was feeling pretty discouraged about my writing at the time and it continues to inspire me. Somebody needs your stories, the way you tell them. What a great thought. Thanks for the B of M words, too. Those are perfect. More permission. From what better source?

  4. Dandi. Thanks, I couldn't remember who said that. It's true that somebody needs our talents, whatever they are. We need to share them.