Wednesday, November 22, 2017

7 Lessons I Learned in Nashville

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). She had a podcast/vlog at You can also find Jill on InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

*I posted a similar article over on my author blog in which I also shared my non-writing-related adventures in Nashville and a lot more pictures.

Confession time.

When I heard that my book King's Folly had finaled for this year's Christy Awards, I was tickled, but totally not going Nashville. I really don't like award ceremonies. Don't get me wrong. This isn't about whether or not I'll win. It is a huge honor to be nominated. I'm tickled to have been nominated. But as an introverted person, sitting through a dinner and not knowing whether or not I might have to go up on stage and speak to everyone makes me a lot crazy. Add to that comparing my just-in-case-speech to that of every person who goes up on stage before I *might* have to go up is agonizing. Truly, anxiety possesses my body. So while I might look like I'm holding it together, inside, it's not pretty.

I'm a mess.

The only part of me even tempted to go the Nashville had nothing to do with the awards banquet and everything to do with what might be my only chance to ever meet Beth Moore, whom I absolutely adore. 

But I wasn't going to go.

Until my friend Mindy of the Quirky Faith blog said she'd go with me.

This changed everything. If I had a person with me--someone to remind me it's all good fun--I felt like I could handle it. So I changed my mind.

And I'm so glad I did. 😊

Along with this year's Christy Awards, there was a little half-day writing conference called The Art of Writing. And so today I wanted to share with you some things I learned on this adventure that fear almost made me miss out on.

1. Marketing/Social Media can be fun.
When I got to the airport, Mindy pulled out from her carry on her copy of King's Folly. She thought we could take pictures of the book as we went places.

Yeeah... I hadn't once thought about any of that! So because of Mindy, I took lots of pictures of King's Folly arriving in Nashville, renting a car, eating in various Nashville restaurants, posing with local graffiti . . . Good idea, Mindy. Well done.

2. I can be brave.
Just because I wanted to meet Beth Moore didn't mean I would. I might be scarred from my disastrously embarrassing meeting with Brandon Sanderson . . . Because I had a chance to meet him a second time, and I sort of hid from him . . . And I also had a chance to meet Ted Dekker, whom I love, and I conveniently didn't find the time. This had become a pattern that later, I always regretted. But I had Mindy with me this time, and she wasn't about to let me fail in this task. And of course, Beth is the sweetest lady ever. Not that I was a bit surprised. 😊 

3. A good friend can make hard things easy.
I sat with Mindy at the Christy Awards, and yes, my insides were going a bit crazy and I did mentally rewrite my speech once. But overall, I did so much better than I'd done in years past. I'd call this progress in a big way. It helps not to be alone sometimes. So if you have something hard to do, take a friend along for support. It changes everything.

4. Don't whine.
Carrie Schmidt, blogger from shared that our lives are rough drafts. Why whine about circumstances when your life is still working out the plot? What a great reminder for when things don't go our way. No worries. We're still in the middle of the adventure.

5. My job is not my life.
Author Chris Fabry said to "Stay connected to real life rather than the ivory tower." What fabulous advice. For writers, it's really hard not to get all caught up in what everyone else is doing. We compare and fall short and get discouraged. Then we work harder, telling ourselves that this time will be different. Why do we do that? Our writing is important. It's part of our hearts. But it's not the only part of our life. If it is, then we're in trouble. We need to remember that life is going on around us, and we can join in or spend our days dreaming about how we'll reach that ivory tower someday. And we'd be dreaming about a lie, because there is no ivory tower. Even those authors who have found what most would consider the top of success are still striving for more. Success does feel good--I won't lie. But that feeling doesn't last. You always want more. It's a trap. The sooner you learn this lesson as an author, the sooner you can let go of the lie, start treating writing like a job, and start living life.

6. I can write about other races or ethnicities.
Dr. Theon Hill . . . What an interesting person! I liked him very much. I was so glad to meet him and hear his wisdom. I took a few notes on each class, but I took three full pages of notes from Theon's class. He spoke on the topic of diversity in fiction, the obstacles in the way, and how we can help. So much wisdom, but my favorite nugget from him was that "Diverse stories are not just my stories or your stories, but our stories as Americans." He encouraged us all to write stories about other races or ethnicities because those are our stories too, as Americans. And if you live in a country outside the USA, look to your country's history. We need to respect that history. We shouldn't steal from another culture to make money off it, but investigate it by getting to know the people who live through it. Listening objectively to the people living these stories, then writing them truthfully. It's not going to be easy, but it's so important.

7. Tell the truth with beauty.
Theon did this in his entire talk, but the quote came from singer, songwriter, and novelist Andrew Peterson. He said, "Tell the truth as beautifully as you can." I loved that. We all have something to say. So why not find the absolutely best way to share it? Dive in to your craft, whatever it might be, and give it your all.

That's what I came home from Nashville ready to do.

Which of my lessons did you most relate to? Share in the comments.

And if you've learned a lesson of your own lately, feel free to share that too. :-)


  1. I love this! I especially connected with #2. I was actually on a plane ride home (and home for me is Nashville) and happened to sit down next to Sara Ella, who was on her way to this very event. I spent the first two hours of the flight mentally screaming and freaking out and trying to work up the nerve to introduce myself. I finally decided the regret I knew I would feel later if I stayed silent would be far greater than the fear of saying hi, so I woman-ed up and did it, and I'm so glad I did! She was wonderful and kind and I have been so blessed by her. I'm so glad you went to the gala and had these experiences! <3

    1. Oh, Hannah! I'm so proud. Good job! I also bet that was super fun for Sara too, to sit next to someone who had read her novel. Readers don't think about these things, but I'm sure as a writer that you can imagine how you'd feel to be on a plane and have the person sitting beside you tell you they read your book and liked it. You'd be like: !!! Very fun. Yay! This story makes me happy. Thanks so much for sharing it. :-)

  2. So much fun. And lots of wisdom here. Wish I could have gone with you.

    1. Me too! I wish we three didn't live so very far apart...

  3. Like you, these kinds of events tend to stress me out big time. Having an enthusiastic and supportive friend along would help me too. Ben is often that for me on a day-to-day basis. I'll be stressed about something book related, and he'll remind me, "Hey, this is exciting." Like you mentioned in another point, I'm often so focused on reaching that next step of the ladder, I forget to look around/enjoy when I'm standing on my current step.

    1. Yes, yes. I so get that. Brad is a good supporter for me too. I wish I could afford to take him with me always. We're trying to work on a screenplay together, so maybe someday... ;-)

  4. Can I just say, I’m so jealous you got to meet Andrew Peterson.

  5. I love this. This sort of things stresses me out too. How wonderful to have such a friend with you!

    #2 and #7 both resonates with me. Maybe that's the reason I try to learn as much about the writing craft as I can this last year. To tell the truth as beautifully as I can, and to be brave and write (yes, for me is writing, showing up and tell, an act of being brave at this moment).