In the past three years, I’ve spent a bit of money on my writing. I’ve attended a few conferences and workshops, purchased too many books about the craft, and had my site redesigned. More recently, I’ve invested in the Year of Creativity course from Coffee + Crumbs and Ann Swindell’s nonfiction book proposal workshop. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about this, because objectively, the financial side of my writing is most certainly in the red. But when I consider all that I’ve gained from these experiences — the expertise and mentorship, the encouragement and truth-telling, the sharpening and refining, the community, and the very real growth in skill — I know that I am most certainly in the black as a writer.
Hobbies aren’t free, you guys. Runners invest in supportive shoes and moisture-wicking clothing. Readers pile their bookshelves with purchases from Amazon and used-book sales. Coin collectors scour shows looking for rare gems, forking over not-insignificant amounts of cash to attain their prizes. Musicians take lessons and buy new strings and upgrade their instruments. Not all of this is necessary, per se, nor is it appropriate in every season of life. Sometimes budgets are tight, or maybe time is in short supply.
But when it has been the right time for my family, I’ve never regretted a single dollar or minute I’ve invested in my writing. Even if I never earn another dollar from my writing, even if I never write a book (let alone one that would earn back an advance), even if I never get another article published anywhere but this little blog, I will keep on investing in myself. Because I love to write. Because it makes me come alive. Because it makes me who I am — a mom and a wife and a copy editor who makes sense of my place in the world by clacking keys and scribbling in a notebook.
This week I made another investment in my writing career by signing up for Ann Swindell’s course Writing with Grace: Memoir. I’ve taken classes with Ann before, and she is the real deal: she is full of the grace she encourages us to write with, plus she’s the published author of an amazing book called Still Waiting, she has an MFA in creative writing, and she has taught writing classes at the collegiate level.
If you’ve been feeling the nudge to write your story, consider taking this class with Ann. (I sure would love to have you there too!) Writing with Grace: Memoir is all about how to write your story beautifully and powerfully. This six-week class is going to include live teaching from Ann (with recordings available), an incredible editor interview, and practical tools and insights to help you write your story well.
Ann is offering my friends and readers $30 off of the cost of the course with the code BRITTANY30. Click over to www.WritingwithGrace.com for all the details, or feel free to reach out to me or Ann with any questions you have. Registration is open from August 29 to September 12, so don’t miss this window! Also, I want to be clear that this is not an affiliate link — I don’t make a dime if you sign up! I just love Ann and believe so deeply in her gifts as a teacher and writer. Her courses have benefited me so much, and I want to share that with you guys too.
I hope you’ll join me there this fall! (Fall! FALL, YOU GUYS! Insert heart-eye and leaf emojis here.)
Here’s more about what I’m learned, loved, and read in August.
What I Learned
- I am way more sentimental (also, unreasonable) about digital clutter than physical clutter. I’ve been trying to purge and organize my digital photos (more on that below) and it is KILLING ME.
- Going slow is pretty much always a good idea. I can’t think of many seasons of my life that didn’t benefit from slowing down, having patience, and taking the long view. Trying not to rush into a job, a relationship, a marriage, having children — this served me well, and I’m trying to apply it to current dreams.
- Keep your expectations low when traveling with kids. Earlier this month we went on vacation with my friends and then with Dan’s family (although “vacation” is a generous way of saying it). My expectations for relaxation and connection were rock bottom, so that meant every stolen moment of adult conversation was a win!
What I Loved
(None of these are affiliate links. I’m just a really happy customer.)
- Nancy Ray’s Photo Storage System: I have been avoiding organizing my digital pictures forever because it’s such an overwhelming task. (I do back them up, but they’re not organized well.) My computer finally ran out of space, so I couldn’t avoid it anymore. This photo storage system walks you through every step of the organizing process, with screenshots and instructions on what to name each folder and file. Being able to follow a system has been so much less stressful than trying to invent one myself.
- Mpix.com: Part of organizing my photos is actually printing them. Several friends recommended Mpix, and I am so impressed with the quality!
- The Prestige: Yep, this movie is 11 years old, but I just watched it and was blown away. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t end until it ends (I love stories like that!) but the twists were satisfying all along the way. After we watched it Dan said the director (Christopher Nolan) also did Inception, which I loved, and now I want to see all his films.
- Sorta Awesome episode 110, “Sorry, Not Sorry”: Possibly my favorite episode ever of my (definitely) favorite podcast ever. I listened to this one while jogging with Selah, and I had to pull the stroller over a few times so I could recover from laughing so hard.
What I Read
- Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland: This book is so compelling and important for our time and place, when it feels like divisions in society at large and especially in the church are deeper than ever. Christena Cleveland does an excellent job of explaining sociological and psychological concepts, telling stories to illustrate her points, and basically explain why we behave the way we do toward people we see as “others.” I wish there had been more strategies for how to overcome these divisions, but maybe that will be book two? 4 stars.
- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult: In this legal-drama novel, a Black neonatal nurse is ordered not to care for the child of a white supremacist (per the parents’ request). When that baby goes into distress, the nurse faces a terrifying choice, and the legal battle that ensues is heartbreaking and compelling. I cannot shut up about this book. Jodi Picoult is a masterful storyteller, and again, this book feels so important for our time in history. 5 stars.
- The Dry by Jane Harper: Aaron Falk returns home for the funeral of his childhood friend, who apparently murdered his five-year-old son and his wife before committing suicide. But several pieces don’t add up — like why he chose to spare his infant daughter — and Aaron works with local police to investigate. This was a solid murder mystery (a favorite genre of mine), and the setting — a multiyear drought in the bushland of Australia — felt like a character in itself. 4 stars.
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: I read this one in the spring of 2016, right after I returned to work from maternity leave. I reread it with a different group at work this summer, and I think it’s going to become an annual read for me. There’s so much encouragement and empowerment here for all women, but especially for working moms. (Spoiler alert: We’re not ruining our children.) 5 stars.
What I Clicked
- “I’d like to contend that while applause affirms a writer, it cannot sustain her. But words that tell the truth can.” Truth bombs abound in this lovely piece from Katie Blackburn.
- “Your story is the opposite of what your dad promised me, when he told me he’d never do anything to hurt me, and he’d always keep me safe.” This story from Lacey Schmidt broke my heart with its vulnerability and beauty. What chapter of your life may be only a prologue?
- “When no one can understand you, when people ignore you, when you feel silenced and alone, your words matter.” Words have power, even when you’re three. Thanks for showing me the way here, Jacey Rogel.
What I Wrote
- Road Maps, Ruts, and Rapid Transformation
- When the Words Feel Heavy
- Building a Village from the Ground Up
- Armchair Chats // Waiting for Summer