Last night’s class confirmed my revelations from last week about needing to slow down. It was the first time I felt like the conduit my characters were speaking through that my teacher always refers to.
This week taught me to trust what I am learning even when I doubt my ability to do it. I decided to submit the short story I wrote for class. Not only because it was well-received but because I was proud of the work. Proud of the work I put in and proud I finally listened to characters that were asking for a voice.
Last night I had my first belly dancing class in many years.
After introductions were made and class rules explained, we got down to learning a few basic foundational steps. I definitely started getting excited when she talked about learning to shimmy which has always been a favorite of mine. I was already moving my knees as she began to explain what to do. Within a few seconds, the instructor advised me to slow down. She said she wants all of us to slow down to get the moves right.
Now, I know good and well I will not look like my belly dancing idols, Veena and Neena, but for some reason, a part of me is in a rush to get there.
So now it’s hit me in two places in under a week.
With my writing and my workout.
I am in a hurry to get to a place which requires slowing down or I will NEVER get there. At least not where I really want to be. I won’t develop strong technique in dance nor will I describe scenes well enough to not leave my readers with lingering questions.
I will do with belly dance the same thing I am doing with writing: Appreciate and even enjoy the time it will take to get exactly where I need to go especially when it gets challenging.
It’s not a novel concept but it’s one I need to cling to because to tell the truth, I have never pushed myself to master anything. Learn, absolutely yes. Master, no.
There are a plethora of reasons why but now is the time for some reflection but more action.
I am already looking forward to next week’s class. Our teacher has already talked about femininity, trying and failing and best of all, developing our confidence. I can’t say now I will ever perform publicly. But I can say I look forward to reading this post months from now and recognize a change.
I spent this past (snowy) weekend at the 2017 Pop-Up Conference hosted by talk radio host, social media coach and web designer extraordinaire Sharvette Mitchell. The two-day conference featured a keynote speech by Kim Coles (from Living Single) and Channel 6’s Antoinette Essa. It was geared toward female entrepreneurs and the theme was “Monetize Your Platform.”
I know there are many writers who may not see themselves as businesswomen (or men). However, that could not be further from the truth. Even if we are lucky enough to be plucked up by a major publishing house, we have to depend on ourselves to market our work effectively. The artistic side of me tends to slink away from the word “sales” picturing a stereotypical, pushy car salesman. However, how are people supposed to know about or purchase your labor of love unless you learn to present it to the world? I know no one has ever knocked on my door asking to read my work.
I figured even if no part of the presentations catered to a writer, I would undoubtedly learn something I could apply. Right from the beginning, any doubts that I may have harbored about whether this was right for me were immediately squashed. Sharvette’s “Hey Girl Hey” ambassadors, Stacy Rodriguez and Toni Winston, were friendly and engaged me immediately. Her team was so organized I was tempted to sing “Formation” as things started to gear up. Registration was seamless and I was invited to sit at a table by a panel member, Yolanda Gray, a warm and welcoming life coach who made me feel right at home with her message of female empowerment.
After a rousing presentation by Confidence Coach, Speaker and Author Shirley T. whose emphasis on relationship building and connection made me walk right to her at the end of the evening and hug her, we were welcomed by Sharvette herself. I think she figured we were warmed up by the hors d’oeurves, conversation and Shirley T. so she threw us right into the fire. She broke us up into groups of 4 and we had to come up with a 60-second skit for one of our businesses. It wouldn’t have been so intimidating if Ms. Kim Coles herself hadn’t made a surprise appearance and watched all of our skits!
Our schedule with swag bag.
Confidence Coach and Author Shirley T. gifting us with her sage advice about relationship building.
I will still hyped after Day 1 in the conference. I had just trudged home in the snow but excited!
Needless to say, we made it through and it was a lot of fun! It was fascinating to see all of the joy and creativity pour out of all these women. It was the passion they had for their businesses that shone through more than anything. There were also plenty of other writers there so any fears I may have had about that were allayed on the first night.
The second day of the conference ran from 8:15-5 and there was so much useful content that I ran out of room in the notes section of the binder provided and moved on to filling up my journal. There were many highlights. They were panels on branding, going from ideation to execution, building media relationships with Antoinette Essa, a session about sales conversations led by skin care business owner Ellice Darien, and the keynote speech “Broadcast Your Brilliance” by Kim Coles.
One of the notable standouts was “Unlocking The Giant Within-Identify, Train and Unleash your Giant–I’ts Screaming to Come Out. It was led by Chief Apostle Olive C. Brown, a local author and Faith Coach. Her content was incredibly uplifting and I fell in love with the idea of “the female Giant.” It’s rare to see us presented that way, even when that’s exactly who we are and must be in this world.
Sharvette’s presentation about monetizing your platform provided the most useful, actionable content for me. She broke down specific tools and strategies to earn income online, even according to your gifts. She was insightful enough to realize some of us are better writers than speakers and vice versa and gave us options for both when creating and selling our products (ex. email courses vs. video courses). Her delivery made me feel like I needed to go home right now and get to work!
Kim Coles signing books
This woman can tell a story! She not only made us laugh but she captured our hearts.
Me and my friend and writing buddy Sonia with Sharvette Mitchell.
Our lovely host listening intently on Day 2.
After the day was done, I was smiling. I hope I not only made connections but possible budding friendships. There was a lot of strength and grit in that room but there was an air of gratitude, service and connection fostered in that room, too.
Without a doubt, I will be popping back up for 2018.
Even though I write a lot of non-fiction and lately, have been inundated with a lot of personal development books, my first love is fiction. Yesterday, after thanking God for waking me and my husband up, I grabbed the latest book I am reading: “The Perfect Find” by Tia Williams. She is one of the authors I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of weeks ago at the James River Writers Conference 2017. I am not ashamed to admit I spent my morning wrapped up in my blankets, getting caught up in the tension and excitement of the story.
The words “keep the story moving forward” have been ringing in my head for a while now and it got louder as I read yesterday. One of my writing teachers, author Sadeqa Johnson offered similar advice to me during the Pens Up, Fears Down course I took earlier this year. I heard it again at the James River Writers Conference during the Library of Virginia Nonfiction Awards Finalists panel from Annette Gordon-Reed.
Writing has taken a more central role in my life this year so those words do ring true. However, why the volume turn-up right now? As I am writing, I am having an onslaught of realization. Those words have been my theme “song” this year. I have challenged myself to do more writing, traveling, confronting of my health, posting, applying, conference-attending and class-taking than any other year of my life. The song is just beginning to build, no deep-throated belting yet but make no mistake, it is audible. With my acceptance of the #bloglikecrazy challenge next month, the commitment to complete my first draft of my novel, starting the process of establishing my business and falling in love with dance again, the vision and the song have clarity.
I have been moving my story forward.
Your turn: What have you been doing to move your story forward?