FRIDAY FIVE

Welcome to the Friday Five where every week I share 4 life lessons/observations from my week and 1 fun photo.

Do you ever have those weeks when all seven days seem to be about getting just ONE thing done? I’ve heard it’s better to strive for one objective than many, and this week has been one of those. My goal? Slash off the thousands of unnecessary words on my novel in progress. I want my book to be a lean, mean, adventure/mystery machine and I need to remember to still take care of myself along the way.

Meanwhile, I feel like a mad woman swinging an axe at her sculpture, hoping she’s carving off the stuff that really should go. Trusting my instincts is scary.

1. Love is better than perfect articulation. Sometimes when I have to step into a difficult conversation, I can only focus on what’s wrong or how I was hurt, and I feel like I’ll never get the words out right. But each time I come at it from a place of love and trying to understand the other person’s perspective, I soften and feel hopeful, and suddenly my love for that relationship and person is more important than getting the words out right. I’m learning this right now.

2. Vulnerability and honesty can’t be compromised. In a fascinating conversation with a scientist friend, I learned just how devastating the world becomes when experiment results are skewed and a false front of perfection is projected. In my friend’s example, it wrecked the trajectory of other researchers, because they based future decisions on false grounds. No matter how much it hurts our pride, we have to be honest, ask each other for help, and admit when we don’t have the answer. Science taught me that.

3. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ladies, this is an especially hard one for us to do, so start practicing. Every time I’ve gained the courage to ask for help or a favor, I’ve grown more in that moment than in the previous weeks or even months. You are not an annoyance or burden when you ask. The worst that can happen is the person says no and you’re where you started. The best that could happen is they agree to help you and you’re no longer struggling alone. (And by the way, according to my track record, you’re rarely refused.)

4. People really can tell when you’re not being yourself. Someone recently pointed out to me the moments in my writing when I was truly honest with myself, and other times when I was imitating someone else’s style because I thought it was pretty. I couldn’t believe it was that obvious. I was bummed, too, because apparently my voice gets more authentic when I talk about my fears and struggles with depression. Back to the vulnerability in point 2, it’s the only way we can connect and be real. Just forget about having the perfect image.

5. My example of asking for a favor in action: At a Renaissance fair this summer, I walked up to this troll and asked to take our picture together. Me: “Pretend like you’re going to hit me.”

I almost never approach strangers like this. I was feeling brave.

 

 

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

Comments

FRIDAY FIVE — 4 Comments

  1. Love that picture! Is that a gypsy-themed costume?
    I really liked your insight, “People really can tell when you’re not being yourself.”
    I’m not sure if that’s true for all people, but I think that should be true for all people. I think people who are vulnerable, sensitive, and genuine will always have that ‘problem’ (people telling when something is off). Personally, I think that is a very good problem to have!

    • It is indeed a good problem to have, you’re right. 🙂 And yes, I went as a gypsy to the fair. I think I have gypsy blood somewhere back there!

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