Friday, May 31, 2013

Who is Your Champion?

Since we have been talking so much about friendship and finding community as writers, I thought I’d touch on a similar topic.

(Cue- “Eye of the Tiger”)

Let me start by posing a question: Who is lifting you up, praying you through, reinforcing your worth?

When we write we don’t just slap some words in a blank document and hope they form a nice little story. We pour our hearts out onto the page, we bond with our characters, feel their pain as if our own. We walk in their broken path along side them in hopes of sending them off like proud mamas and papas, spurring them on to fulfilling their dreams.

I don’t know about you, but when I let someone read my story, I feel that old 6th grade insecurity rise up. “Do they like me? Do they think it’s stupid? Is there toilet paper stuck to that struggling leg of my story?”

No matter where you are at in your journey, we all have room for improvement. Receiving a critique is not always a palatable experience. Sometimes you have to muscle down those words that sit like stones on your heart. But like river rocks, we have to face a lot of rough waters until we can be smooth and polished.

In order to face those doubts and those tumultuous insecurities without breaking we need a champion.

 Maybe it’s your spouse, someone that gives you time to write even when the kids are literally tearing your house down.

Maybe it’s your mom, who harasses you for the next few pages of your rough draft and boasts of never reading anything better. (Thanks mom, you’re sweet, but delusional. I love you for it!)

Or maybe it’s your writing partner, who cheers you on, soaks up your story, falls in love with your characters. You might even be lucky enough to have an agent or an editor who believes in you by standing behind your words and working to give your dream wings.

Perhaps, it’s God. The one pouring those words through your fingertips. They could be just for you, or for millions of hearts around the world, but He is the author of your dreams, and the most faithful friend.

No matter who you have on your team, prepping you for the ring, wiping up the sweat and tears after a hard blow, please know that you can’t walk this seemingly solitary dream alone. Put yourself out there. Let someone in. Share your story with your closest friend or join a writers group.

Be a champion for someone else.

So let me encourage you to step outside your writer bubble.

Find someone who will help you when you stumble, because you will.

Find someone who will encourage you when you doubt, because you will.

And find someone who will rejoice in your success, when you do!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate those who lift us up! Who is your champion? And how do they make you feel invincible?


Unknown said...

Oh my goodness, there are too many to name!! My parents, of course, are the obvious--I mention them all the time when talking about people who support me. My grandparents too.

I would have to say when it comes to writing, Susan May Warren is the person who has made me feel invincible. Her teaching has always given me this, "Whoa, I can do this" feeling. But her friendship and mentorship has been an even more treasured thing. And right along with her, Rachel Hauck, Beth Vogt, Lisa Jordan...really, I could name so many.

And Lindsay CP extraordinaire who NEVER fails to encourage me right when I need it most!

Keli Gwyn said...

My champions on my writing journey are my incredibly supportive husband, my wonderful critique partner, Anne, and my romance writing sister, all of whom believe in me, help me up when I'm down, and rejoice with me when things are going my way. I. Am. Blessed!

Angie Dicken said...

My biggest champion has proven herself over and over again...when I am ready to give up, when I need a quick grammar lesson, or when I have to text her an idea in the middle of the night...she's always there! Love you, Ashley Clark!
Great post, Amy!

Beth K. Vogt said...

Amy: This is such a wonderful post! We need to stop and think of our champions -- and to be thankful for them. My husband Rob is so, so supportive, both practically and prayerfully. And my kiddos -- they understand when I look up from a story and ask, "Oh, were y'all waiting for dinner?" (A lot of times, they've gone ahead and made it without me. One advantage of older kids.)
I am blessed to be mentored by the truly gifted Rachel Hauck (Skype? Texts? Emails?) and to be taught by Susan May Warren. Unexpected blessings, both.
And the MBT Ponderers -- friends along the writing road when I first stepped over to the Dark Side ...
Amy, your post makes me realize I have been richly blessed with champions, with friends who believe in me when I don't.
I have much to be thankful for.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Melissa & Keli- I am so glad to see that you are surrounded by wonderful people who encourage you! I have no doubts that that is a key ingredient to your success. What a blessing!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Angie- Somehow I already knew yours... weird, huh? ;) Ashley has a real gift for encouraging. She has been there supporting me, and praying me through rough times! She is a treasure!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Beth- It is amazing that I hadn't truly realized how many champions I had until I started writing this post! You are such a big part of that, and I will always be thankful for your precious friendship you offered so generously to the new girl at ACFW 2011. It's such a wonderful thing that we, all of us in this niche of CBA, have found such community with each other. Praying together, encouraging one another, brainstorming and lending a hand. It is such to a relief to find such friendship in an arena that might normally thrive on competition.

Thank you so very much for being one of my champions! I am constantly awed by how richly God has blessed me!

Rachel Hauck said...

Great post!

My dad was my first big encourager. Rachel, you're a writer be a writer.

So I became a writer.

Obedience rules!! :)


Pepper said...

GREAT post, Amy.
My first encouragers (and consistent ones) have been my parents (and my Granny until she passed away 2 years ago)
My daughter, Lydia, is one of my TOP champions. She'd be a great marketing strategist :-)

THE ALLEYCATS!!!! I LOVE YOU!! Amy and Angie, thanks so much for taking your time and energy to read through my work. Wow!!! And all of my other wonderful Alleycats who maintain such an encouraging attitude as we move forward in this writing journey!!

Beth Vogt is one of the sweetest encouragers out there. A-MAZ-ING!!

My BFF - Jess- she's remarkable

Like Melissa said - there are so many it's difficult to list them all! What a blessing!!!

My agent has been such a great supporter - giving me solid feedback, but also cheering me on.

But I'm serious, there is NOBODY like The Alleycats for me!

Pepper said...

Piggybacking on what Rachel said:
My Granny was the first person who called me a writer.

She even bought me a typewriter as a gift and said, "A writer needs one of these."

As a dutiful granddaughter, I listened to my granny :-)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Amy I loved this post. It's so fun to see who's lifted you up. I'm blessed to have an amazing husband who encourages and is behind me on this writing journey.

Beth Vogt—friend, mentor, encourager, truth speaker, reality-checker (in the best of ways). Some great friends from my church are already talking up my book. I've met so many wonderful encouragers on line, including you Alley Cats. I cut my teeth on writing craft thanks to Susan May Warren. Rachel Hauck has challenged me to take my stories deeper and to really explore my characters and TENSION. They've both been super encouragers.

Thanks for making me think on this, Amy!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Ouch. This is the sort of thing that makes me feel very alone.

I have people who love me, and every now-and-then I will stick them in the ribs with my WIP and remind them, "This is a big deal to me" and they will "keep loving me" through my fantasy and celebrate milestones with me, but most of the time it feels hard and a solo slog.

You're right about God as "the most faithful friend." He's put writing in me, and now I can't do enough.

I do have two friends (one on the other side of the world, and one I get to visit with a couple times a quarter, and they are TREMENDOUS encouragers. I suppose they might do more if I specifically asked for it, or said how much I needed it, but so might the rest of my disinterested world, and I don't know how I feel about, um, training my champions?

I guess that's what feels different to me about a "champion" or a "cheerleader." If I tell others I need encouragement, some can be really good about remembering for a while and asking about progress, but that feels like such a different type of energy than I imagine a "champion" to give.

Not trying to bring the thread down...

Maybe others can chime in about finding (or training?) a Champion?

Lindsay Harrel said...

Love this! I don't think I'd be doing what I do without certain people encouraging me. My mom used to tell me she was my number 1 fan. My dad has been hugely supportive as has my husband. And then there's countless friends who ask me about my writing and encourage me when I'm down. And of course I am hugely blessed by Melissa Tagg, the best CP and friend ever!!

Jennifer Fromke said...

Christy Truitt has been my biggest cheerleader. I love that she will speak truth to me . . . "Say this another way" and she is so very talented I'm blessed everytime she puts her brain to my words. The hubster is also a huge cheerleader and a laundry superhero (yes, laundry is my biggest time sucker). Feeling blessed - great post!

Joanne Sher said...

Love love LOVE this. I too have more than I'd realized until I started reading this post!

My WONDERFUL hubby, Patty Wysong, LauraLee Shaw, Dee Yoder, Jennifer Slattery, Ann Hair, Patti Macomber, Geselle Steenhoek.

I am so INCREDIBLY blessed!

Krista Phillips said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! My champions are, wow, so precious to me. I couldn't name them all if I tried.

This is probably SO incredibly dumb, but I've realized I have a HUGE problem in that I have a difficult time ALLOWING people to champion me. When they try to lift me up, I have a super bad habit of listing all the reasons why they shouldn't or why they are very wrong in their esteem of me. And in turn, i don't champion others as I would really love to because the whole give/take of the whole praise thing is just not my strong suit, how horrible is that! (except with my kids, who are amazing and will get a TON of praise from me because they totally rock...)

I'm learning... slowly... that I need to do BETTER at this, both in the give and take.

It's one of the BIG things I took away from our retreat!!! Having a group of women LIFT me up and being able to reciprocate was just amazing and totally what I needed!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Rachel- we are all very happy you listened to your dad! :) thanks so much for being one of my champions! You are an incredible blessing!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Pepper- I am continually blessed how God orchestrated everything with you and me and the Alley cats!! Thank you for being my champion, for always have an encouraging word! I am so proud to champion you and all your talent and imagination!! Your time to shine is coming sooo soon!!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Jeanne- I'm so happy you have such a wonderful support system! And Beth is amazing isn't she? Such a gifted encourager!

Amy Jane- I felt the same way at the beginning of my writing journey. In order to find a champion you have to step out if your comfort zone. Embrace the writing community. Put your stuff out there. There are great writing groups like the loops on ACFW, or My Book Therapy. But the best way to find a champion is to be one. Don't lose heart, Gods got a great champion for you in his time! I'm a testimony of that!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Linds- god has put a lot of great people in place to nurture your dream! I know your mom would be really proud of your drive and your kind generous heart! Of course, I'm sure your writing is fabulous too! Can't wait to read it someday!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Jennifer- ugg... I hate laundry too! I procrastinate until it basically gobbles me up! You are a lucky girl to have a laundry man ;) the value of a great friend/crit partner is immeasurable!!

Joanne- so glad this sparked your awareness of how truly blessed you are. I hadn't realized when I started writing it that it would do the same for me :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Not dumb At all Krista! I think we all feel that way sometimes! You are a star, girlfriend. You need to start seeing your worth through the Father's eyes. You'll be amazed by what you see through His lens. Love u!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm going to try this again. (My posts usually don't work.) I really enjoyed this post Amy. Although I can't write to save my life, I have wonderful people who support me in everything I do. It is nice to take time to appreciate them. I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband, a really terrific daughter:), son, and son-in law. Oh, and I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the sweetest grandsons on the planet!


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

What a great post! I love it! I would have to say that my husband is my best supporter. He is always telling me I am a real writer. My sister is a great supporter too...she is a great prayer warrior.

And of course, the ALLEY CATS!!!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Sher- A supportive spouse makes a HUGE difference in how you see your time spent writing. And the oomph behind a good prayer warrior is immeasurable! So glad I get to be on your team! :)