Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Trampoline Jumping and the Writing Life

It is a month of birthdays in our house. Both of our children are April babies. Throw in a few themed kid parties, visits from a myriad of out-of-state family members and its clear the month is one big celebration.

As I watched my children bounce on their new trampoline with neighborhood friends, I was reminded of some lessons that I think bear noting for the writing life.

1) If we're too afraid of falling, we fail to "dare greatly."

I've been reading a fantastic book by Brene Brown entitled Rising Strong. Its all about failure. Not one of our most favorite things, is it? But Brene argues we are neglecting the valuable lessons of getting back up again.

What failure are we avoiding in our writing life? Are we afraid to start a novel in a new genre? Do we tremble at the thought of sending our first chapter out to the very agent who rejected our last novel? Are we fearful to write something that tugs a bit close to our own heartstrings, like about that abortion at age eighteen or a more recent mess-up?

What would it mean to fully show up in your writing life? Start with that one thing that's coming to mind, then after that dare greatly for the next decision...and the one after that.

As I stand at the railing of my deck, chiding my son yet again not to back flip, I peg myself as a good mother. A cautious one. Yet my son isn't afraid to risk...and perhaps in some ways he's the smarter one.

2) If you soar high, you may fall but you also may touch the stars.

My mother granted my father a dying wish as a birthday present. When he was in the final throes of liver cancer, he took a flying lesson in a restored WWII aircraft. As he did nosedives and small flips he was a fearless warrior. After all, what did he have to lose?

Do we overestimate what we have to lose? Life is too short to not soar high with God as our headpilot. He believes and has only the best for us. Let's get in and enjoy the ride, even if it feels bumpy.

Are you allowing God full pilot seat in your writing life? Or do you see him as more of a stewardess, perhaps providing your needs and even wants?

You were meant to soar, but you'll only do so if you're willing to give up the illusion of control. As that's all it really is anyhow.

Are you willing to accept a writing "career" that looks different than you planned or hoped? That may mean something different in your case than it does in mine.

My daughter jumps high enough I often fear she would sail past the net, yet her feet come firmly back to the ground after the joyous thrill of sailing through the air.

3) Soaring is always more glorious and falling more endurable with friends.

The kids seldom bother with trampolining if their sibling isn't around or if the neighborhood children are all occupied.

Not only is life more fun with friends, but trials are more endurable. Keep cheering on your friends to jump higher, to take risks...and look for those who will encourage you to do hard things in your writing life.

One of my good friends in college read one of my magazines, circled an ad for writing instruction and wrote next to it, "hun, look!"

I love friends that aren't afraid to tell me I need to grow in an area. I know they will stick by my side while I do.

Be the friend who gives kudos to your successes and cries with rejection letters. Then tell her to dust herself off and try again!

4) All good things cost!

A trampoline wasn't a cheap gift. We were concerned about buying a safe and well-rated trampoline, one that would last for years to come.

What will a good thing in your writing life cost? Giving up free time? Money? Or perhaps something even more costly?

Children live brave lives many adults only dream about. How can you capture and harness the world of childhood play, forgetting about the risks and setting aside fear of falling and allow yourself to soar in the best God has for you as a writer.

Julia Reffner lives in central Virginia and enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction. She is a regular reviewer and writer for Library Journal and blogs for the devotional site Wonderfully Woven.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great lessons here, Julia. :) The point about community resonated with me. When we win/final in a contest, get a contract, or some other good thing, it's amazing to be able to celebrate with friends. When we face disappointments in the writing life (and who of us hasn't?!), having friends come alongside, commiserate and then kick our booties back into a healthy thinking/writing groove is a priceless gift.

Fun post!

Anonymous said...

Such a great post. I needed reminded of a lot of these truths in here. <3