I rode into Grand Rapids on physical and emotional fumes. I wasn’t sure I should be there. It didn’t make financial sense. Writing and speaking is not the most profitable endeavor in the beginning stages. Investing in myself..can make me feel guilty. Sometimes.This was one of those times. It was iffy from a husband’s health perspective. He’d just had another round of treatment and a recent emergency hospital visit. (Cancer is a jerk, by the way.) Add to that my “What the heck am I doing taking a writer’s track when I still feel like a liar every time I think of myself as a writer” Perspective, and I was a hot mess.
But, I was a hot mess with a plan. I had organized folders of one page pitches for my next three book projects.That coordinate with my business cards. (And my shoes.) I printed copies of my book proposal and sample chapters- just in case, had a card case full of freshly printed business cards.
I may have been a hot mess on the inside- but I did my best to be a semi-pro on the outside. I pinterest researched outfits appropriate for business travel with sass. I chose my favorite colors. Turquoise, red and leopard. (Yes, in my closet leopard is a color.) For a 3 day conference I packed 6 pair of shoes. “Fake it till you make it” is sometimes the best I can do.
The outer veneer cracked when worship started. Mostly because I realized I was being psycho-sybill. Slightly over confident on the outside (I was trying way too hard to look confident. Trust me.) and a complete train wreck of insecurity on the inside. During opening worship both of those conflicts were gently brought to mind and confronted with the truth: it’s not about me.
“Why am I really here?” I wondered. I had dreamed of a publishing contract in my inbox before I left the conference. (Publishing isn’t that fast.) I hoped my speaking schedule would be overbooked before I got home. But is that really what I came?
Not so much. I really came to find out if I’m delusional or talented or somewhere in between. I came to learn. I came to hone my craft. I came to network.I came to hear from God.
What was left of my veneer split wide open when my pinterest perfect, just sassy enough turquoise peplum top’s zipper broke wide open in the middle of a workshop. Thank You Jesus, the zipper ran up the back. I suppose the reality is, our flesh and mixed motives and messy lives has a tendency to pop out like a turkey timer just when we most need a reminder that the outside is just a small part of who we are. And no matter how pulled together we look.. We’re all just a broken zipper from our humanity being on display for the world to see. Fortunately- my wardrobe malfunction was met with grace. (Yes, even my pretty much full upper back tattoo…) Instead of condemnation- new friends helped yank that zipper up to moral standards. (Backless is not usually appropriate business attire… justsayin.)
Unfortunately- is also happened about 10 minutes before my hour of power. AKA: My 4 fifteen minute back to back,one-to one meetings with publishers, agents and consultants. Think: Shark Tank and American Idol rolled into 15 minute appointments. I did not have time to go change.
I tried to focus on pitching projects while being 100% distracted that if I stood up, I would be semi-nude. Not the impression I was going for.
My meetings were encouraging and enlightening. It’s amazing the wisdom some will share. Honestly? I think I needed the humility I found in that wardrobe malfunction. I may have been distracted. But I was certainly less fakely over confident than I would have appeared without it. I’m like that. Sometimes it takes a 2×4 or a broken zipper to bring me down to earth.
At the end of the conference-I left with more than I bargained for. While I rode in on fumes-I left: with a full tank.
Inspired. By the word, and the people I met. Their stories, their experiences all taught me so much.
Encouraged, by the “official” meetings I had to talk about ideas, and even more so by the God appointed ones that affirmed both my message and the need for it.
Equipped, I learned inside information abut the publishing industry, the craft and art of writing and some great tips and tricks for speaking.
I know what my next steps are, and I am better equipped to take them. I’m less afraid and insecure. This really isn’t about Me. It’s not about a book deal. It’s about a message. A message that’s an honor to share.
I also know to double check zippers for security.
If you’ve never been to Speak Up- I can’t recommend it more. You will learn from and network with more than people in the industry, you’ll also learn from and network with the one who created you for the work He’s called you to.
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