I tend to think too much. It’s awesome when I need to build a fictional world, but it often stinks in real life. When I started writing, I overthought everything. I put unrealistic deadlines on my career, telling myself that I would only try it for a few years, and if it didn’t work out, then I would stop writing. You see, I stayed home with my littles and I felt so very guilty for that. I felt that if I didn’t bring in money, people would look down on our family or look down on me. I felt like I had to have something to prove that I was an important contributor to society, too.
One of the hardest parts about choosing a career in the arts is feeling like I’m not real. That I’m lazy or unqualified or have my head in the clouds. That I don’t have a storefront or a business suit. I also found myself apologizing and worrying all the time about the decisions I made.
Another of my biggest hurdles last year was learning to be okay with who I am. You see, as a woman who is a Christian who can write, the expectation is that I write devotionals. That I use my “talent” to talk only about God.
Okay, I’m going to be very real with you right now, and if I never sell a book again because I opened my mouth, then I guess I’ll suck it up. I’m not big on devotionals. I sometimes like books written by Christian women, but there’s not much substance to some of them. (There’s not much substance to some of the books written by Christian men, to be fair.)
This isn’t an attack on Christian books or writers. It’s merely an opinion. There are a LOT of books out there with no substance, Christian or not. And it’s not an attack on the books that are light on substance, either. I love books, and I’ve found that it’s best to read lots of types. Brainy or light, long or short, silly or thought provoking. The world can use them all.
I joked on Twitter some months ago about reading Tolstoy and smut at the same time, but that’s very much how I roll. And then there are some times I insert my own smut into Tolstoy… “Oh, Levin, thresh some wheat for me, baby.” *fans face* Sorry, Tolstoy. (But seriously, dude…more Levin, less what’s her name.)
But do you see what I mean? That, up there, is 100% me. But there have always been stricter rules on women in religion. We are supposed to wear skirts and pearls and always say kind things and always bring food to people and always, always shout our love to the Lord.
People, I love God. But I am not that woman. And I’m never going to be that woman. By the way, if you are that woman, then awesome for you. I am not here to say that women shouldn’t be those things. I’m here to say that it’s okay for me not to be. That I’m loved just as much as everybody else. That somebody else’s rules do not define my relationship with God.
Do you know why I don’t write devotionals? Because the title would probably be something like, “Bite Me”. So I’ll leave those kind of books to the women who are better at writing them.
This year I have a motto. “Shut Up and Create”.
This year I am going to be myself without apology or fear. Am I right 100% of the time? Nopers. Do I care? Nopers. I’m not going to hide any part of me because it might make somebody else uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to change my personality. I’m always going to be kind and considerate of other people. But I’m going to take care of myself, too.
I’m going to resist overthinking. I’m going to write books that are darker. I’m going to make art that I enjoy. I’m going to explore the world through my words and pictures. I’m going to be the artist I am.
I made the picture below over Christmas. The kids and I were all sick, and I needed a way to relax. I love it. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s me.
I’m eager to see what this year brings, but I’m not going to over think it. Join me if you dare.
Love Strongly, Live Bravely,
Shut up and Create.