If you are in the habit of self-put-downs, if your internal
dialogue with your own self shames and blames and belittles
you, you really need to shut up. And re-structure
We build our world with our words; we frame our lives with
our beliefs. If your internal talk is negative, the house
you frame will collapse. Just this week I re-framed mine
regarding my work, assembling some lovely moments I cherish,
but which I often forget because, well, my internal dialogue
does not always elevate the work I do.
(Alert: this is a shameless exercise in own-horn blowing,
for practice. I encourage you to do some of your own. It’s
On Monday, an AirBnB guest, a nurse from Canada, messaged
me, and told me, through tears, how much my book, The
Art of Noticing, had meant to him in the past
few days, in which he’d had a rough time. He said I’d helped
him, and laid out ten crumpled dollar bills and a Canadian
coin to buy a copy. He requested my autograph, and the two
of us connected as fellow-travellers on the difficult road
In the midst of Covid, another AirBnB guest rerouted a
cross-country trip to stop by our home and buy five copies.
Just yesterday, someone bought four. Very encouraging to a
A few weeks ago, a friend from high school, a cardiologist,
called me out of the blue. Whenever I publish a book, I send
him and his wife a copy. Well, I’d sent them Feathergill’s
Fabulous Emporium, my latest. Imagine my
surprise that this very busy 67-year-old MD had taken the
time to read my imaginative middle-reader’s book aimed at
4th grade girls. Read it, he said, straight through in one
sitting, and CRIED at the end! Really! He said he likes to
encourage people. I replied that he could head back to bed,
‘cause he’d accomplished his work for the day. He ordered
twenty copies to send to friends.
My first book, self-published in 1999, is a writing primer
for middle grades. Called The Storysaurus Book, it
is very clever. I wish it weren’t quite so clever. I would
love to rewrite it, making it simpler, and re-illustrate it,
but I really can’t justify a second edition until I sell the
remaining boxes in my attic. Nonetheless, my author friend
Alice used it to teach story-structure to her grandkids, and
she tells me they LOVED it, and that it helped them. Really.
Such stories keep me going.
My dear friend, PhD psychologist Dr. Talitha Fair, honored
me by loving my book The
and the Hundred-Year Mystery. She told me she’d
read it five times, and when she passed away, her copy was
beside her bed.
I once encouraged a serious young man at a book signing to
buy The Piglys. (I felt a little forward, as he had
many choices in front of him, and my suggestion was
potentially self-serving.) I spoke again at the same event a year later, and was
introduced to the manager of the local Barnes & Noble.
She noted The Piglys on the table and said, “Oh… you
wrote that one. My son bought it here last year. He
re-reads that one.”
In the early 1980s, in my then-gig as illustrator of a
Bible-based children’s magazine, we received a letter from a
mom. She told us her son gave his life to Jesus in the
course of doing the maze-page I’d illustrated, about the
forgiving Father and the prodigal son.
These anecdotes are my loaves and fishes – encouragement I
need to keep going, just as Jesus used the boy’s lunch to
keep the crowd going. (Metaphor is slightly askew; I include
Like Popeye, “I yam what I yam,” and I have to write what I
am, without regard to what’s likely to be a best-seller. My
books are quirky, with elevated vocabulary and
gender-specific characters. Not the flavor of the age we
live in. My friend PeggySue says I write in the vein of
Charlotte’s Web, and I conclude with her cherished
compliment because, after all, I’m engaged in blowing my own
I think you would do well to assemble your own list,
compose your own horn concert. You have your own golden
moments, I promise. If they don’t spring to mind, it’s
possible you’ve done some bad framing with your internal
dialogue. Put the task on your mental back burner, and
let God bring stuff to mind. He’s good at that. Write down
what comes up.
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Thanks to all this audience for taking the time to read!