Blowing Your Own Horn Mice framing and
(and why you should...)

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 your self-talk.

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 okay.)

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 of Life.

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 marketing-averse author.

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 Piglys 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.

                   prodigal maze

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 it anyhow.)

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 horn.

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!