The Benefits of Discomfort

It’s uncanny how going stag to a conference can revert me into an insecure high school student.

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I fretted over whom I would talk to, whom I would sit with, and whom I would have lunch with. My mind hustled to remedy a plan. The morning of the conference, I prepared to text a friend when I felt a soft nudge in my spirit telling me, no. “No, Catie you don’t need a safety net. Go and meet new people. Be open and see what happens.”

Though it made me anxious, I listened to that subtle voice inside. Entering the building for the Breathe Writer’s Conference, I determined to make it memorable. At times, I felt uncomfortable and shy, but I pushed past those feelings, introduced myself, and met many great and inspiring people. If not for the discomfort of being alone, I wouldn’t have been forced to make friends.

If I had arranged to hang out with people I already knew in attendance, I wouldn’t have met such a wide array of amazing, vibrant, and creative individuals. I wouldn’t have met Pearl, a writer of inspiring blogs called “LookUpSometimes.” I wouldn’t have met Alyssa whose posts bring awareness to mission work in South Africa. I wouldn’t have met the adorable illustrator, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have met writers: George, Donald, Christina, Marianna, Kelli or sci-fi Sam.

I walked away not only enriched by the conference sessions, but by the extraordinary people I met while I was there. The initial discomfort produced the benefits of lasting memories, encouragement, and inspiration.

This principle applies to more than just conferences. We need to be okay with getting uncomfortable. We need to push ourselves out of our normal social spheres, beyond our same cultures, past our same skin colors, even outside of our beliefs and meet people different than ourselves.  Because when we do, amazing things can happen, and I believe we become better versions of ourselves.

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Pearl and I at Breathe

Real and Rollicking

Today my post is featured on Breathe Writer’s Conference Blog. http://www.breatheconference.com. I hope it encourages you…

 

I knew it from age nine, the same age when I decided I should have been born an Indian-American. It was probably this instinctual habit of imagination that made my cousins think I was weird and forced my mother to explain by saying, “She’s just analytical.”

They were all right. I am weird. And analytical. And a bit neurotic. But mainly, I’m bent toward creative. My imagination Catie Stories pouredfound its outlet through drawing, poetry, reading and writing stories. Each summer, I loaded up on 18 to 20 books from the library, living vicariously through plots of witty western Belles, rogue cowboys, and shipwrecked sailors.

I wrote as often as I read, but I wasn’t sure if I had much talent.

In sixth grade, I decided to test the tea by entering my short story, By My Turpleplum Tree, into the Young Authors, a book contest comprised of four elementary schools. Among all the contestants, my story took First Place. I was astounded and revved up like my dad’s blue Cutlass.

Stories poured from my mind filling the pages of stapled booklets. After oodles of sketched plots, I settled upon a story that I entitled, JYIA. It was a story of a Navajo chieftain’s daughter. It was also my first time writing historical fiction, another excuse to go to the library and boil over books. From ages fourteen to eighteen, I worked on this novel. I consulted with my English teacher, Mrs. Smith, for three of those years. I gave her my chapters and received her critiques every month.

Upon the completion of the 270-page manuscript, we looked though the 2001 Literary Guide to Agents and selected a few. She helped me compose my first query letter, and we sent them out with hopes flung high. Months later, my hopes tiptoed home holding rejection.

In my senior year, I gave the story to my new English teacher, Mr. Moreau, and he gave me the truth. “Be proud that you accomplished this huge task. It’s a good first draft, but needs work. Also, you might want to reconsider the ending. Girls aren’t going to like that you kill your heroine.”

I took his words to heart and revised until 2008, when I stopped, frustrated and tired. On my living room floor, I pleaded. “Lord what do I do now? I want to write about Indians!”

The Lord calmly replied, “Right now it’s time for something new. Look into the 1920’s.” I obeyed.

I realize now that God not only intended my Roaring Twenties series to stir an audience, but to transform things inside of me. Writing has a way of doing that. The best part is our characters get to suffer the lessons of our personal stupidity.

Today, I stand a writer, not because it was something I had a talent for, but because I had the gumption to keep doing it. It’s not a faint-hearted hobby; it’s my dream and ministry. It’s because I was persistent that I now have an amazing agent who is shopping my trilogy to several publishing houses. It’s because I wasn’t afraid to be real with myself and others that I’m writing the rollicking tales of the 1920’s.

faint hearted hobby Catie

Don’t ever give up. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Use the talent God has put inside of you.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

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