Getting Christmas Off My Mind (and Into My Heart)

It’s 8 days till Christmas, and I’ve officially gotten into the holiday spirit! In other words, I finally started shopping for gifts and making lists and checking them twice (or thrice – isn’t that a funny word?). I tend to be an organized person and can usually find whatever thing hubby or C misplaced (E’s anal like me, haha), but I don’t normally make to-do lists. Which is why it was very odd for me to actually write one this week. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I turned 40 last month, and the ‘ole brain cells aren’t workin’ as well these days. Or maybe it’s just the result of having too many things to do and too many places to go in such a short amount of time.

Anyone else feel like a chicken about to lose its head? 😛

ID-100223913

Image courtesy of bandrat/freedigitalphotos.net

I was at Target earlier when I heard Christmas music playing overhead, and I had to remind myself, Yes, this is the most wonderful time of the year! But with the way I was rushing around and stressing about all the things I still needed to buy and all the places I still needed to go, I was so not feeling the wonder.

Maybe you’re having a hard time, too.

It might not be the busyness of the season that’s locked up your Christmas spirit; it could be a struggle with finances or loneliness. Maybe it’s a battle with sickness or a broken relationship. It could be the loss of someone you love. Whatever the situation may be, it’s time to remember the Hope of this season. The Hope given to this dark world when God chose to limit Himself to become one of us in order to show us His limitless love.

That’s what I’m going to focus on in the next 8 days. Presents, good food and gatherings are nice and fun. But even after the gifts are unwrapped, the meals are digested and the company is gone, we have the Hope of Jesus to hold on to. And ultimately, it’s this Hope that makes life worth living and celebrating.

Take a listen to Pentatonix’s powerful rendition of “Mary, Did You Know” – it’s sure to get Christmas off your mind and into your heart. 🙂

How do you get into the Christmas spirit?

Faking it till You Make It (as an Author)

I saw this image on one of my favorite author’s Facebook page this week and had to smile.

Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby!

I liked how such a successful author like her (we’re talking about the NY Times and USA Today bestseller status) could relate to the struggles of a way lesser-known, indie author like me.

In the four years since I started pursuing a writing “career” (I added quotes around the word career to show you how seriously I take it, haha), I have learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned how fragile my ego is, how much I base my self-confidence on what other people think, and how I do have what it takes to be an author.

Wait a minute, how did that last comment sneak in there? 😉 More importantly, is it true or is it just a lie I tell myself as I tend to my wounded ego?

The thing is, to be a writer (especially a fiction writer), you constantly need to make things real and believable (things you tell your readers and yourself). You create characters and settings and a plot line out of scratch. You add descriptions and dialogue and drama to give flavor and texture to the story. And you top it all off with a happy-ever-after, or some sort of meaningful ending, so the reader feels satisfied and fulfilled until their next meal, I mean, book. 🙂

If you were to condense my short time as a writer into a novel, it would be one of those “thrill of victory, agony of defeat” type of stories. The kind where the soldier rushes off into war with a youthful spirit and all the best intentions, only to emerge from the fight bruised and scarred and weary. But then, thanks to the pep talks of his loved ones, he goes into battle again with renewed hope and a belief that he can do it(!), and he comes out a winner.

Yep, like that soldier, I’ve been beaten down by rejection emails, gotten stuck in the trenches of writer’s doubt and considered giving up. But through the process, I’ve picked up lots of great tips from other writers, tried new techniques and developed literary muscles. And I’ve had to give myself one pep talk after another, talks that include just enough truth to keep me fighting.

Truth such as: “There was a lot good about this book, especially the life and faith lessons, but there were some problems, too. Head hopping was a major issue, because it went back and forth between different points of view so often. So much time was skipped in places it left the reader feeling as if they were missing out on too much of the story. For the first 60% of my kindle edition, there was a lot of thinking and second-guessing but little to no conflict. The tension picked up between 60% and 75% but then fell off again, and everything was resolved. The last part just tied everything up. I did like the book, but it could have been much better with just a little more work.”

That was a review left by a reader of my first book. When I saw it, I took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in my throat. Then I read it again and found myself nodding … because every criticism she gave was true. And because of her honesty (and those of my critique partners and beta readers), I know how to improve and what it takes to be an author.

The journey to becoming a writer is a bit like faking it till you make it. Faking it not by lying to yourself about how good you are, but by being truthful about the areas that could be better. It’s about showing up each day to do the hard work of a writer because that’s what you are. It’s about believing you have it in you to be a regal, strong and impressive white striped tiger, even when all you feel like is a tiny, clumsy kitty.

So, cheers to all of us kitty cats working on growing into big ‘ole tigers. Believe it, own it, and go for it.

I think the perfect song for this post is Katy Perry’s “Roar”, which I’ve shared before, but this time I’m sharing a cover of it by Olivia, a pint-sized contestant on The Voice Kids Australia (we need a US version!) who has one fierce roar.

What have you tried your hand at “faking it till you make it”? What did you learn from the experience?