Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guest Blog: Josi S. Kilpack

Tuesday, I posted my review of Josi S. Kilpack's yummy book, Lemon Tart. Today I'm thrilled to present her guest blog spot about confidence and her journey to becoming an author:

I recently spoke to a group of junior high students as part of career day presentation on becoming an author. I’d gone through having realistic expectations about income, learning about the craft of writing, and knowing the market—all essential parts of being a writer. I looked at my notes to make sure I hadn’t missed anything and saw the word “Confidence” written on my list of things to work on. I looked at my audience again. How on earth do you talk to a bunch of 14 year olds about having confidence? For a moment I was transported back to those awkward years of never wearing the right thing, rarely saying the right thing, and never quite trusting myself to be the right thing in any given situation. Just the memories were painful but somehow I was supposed to tell these kids how to do something I hadn’t been able to do at there age?

I didn’t dream of being an author, I didn’t dream of being anything, really, other than graduated some day so I could do whatever I wanted all day (ha, ha, ha). In the blink of an eye I scrambled through my story to find a way to explain confidence, and to simply remember how I ever developed. I remembered a few specific things directly related to my writing. First, I remembered writing an ongoing story to a friend in 8th grade where I put kids we knew and boys we liked as characters in this story. It was nothing special, in fact I’m very glad I don’t have those notes because I’m sure they would embarrass me greatly were I read them now. But I remembered my friend telling me that I was a great storyteller. I had never thought of myself as a great anything, and I didn’t even believe her, but the fact that she said it meant something and I held onto that tightly. Years later, in college, I, for the first time, had a teacher tell me I was a good writer. She wrote it on a research paper I’d done on sex change operations. I still wasn’t thinking about becoming a writer —the dream was still too big, but I cherished her words. I don’t recall anyone telling me I was good at anything since that junior high note and her words made me consider, for the first time, that perhaps I was good at writing. What a thought! Within a couple of years I was a mother. I didn’t know how to cook, clean, or how to do my daughter’s hair. So, I started to learn and while learning to make tuna casserole I learned how to set a goal, finish it, and be proud of it. Now, I’d set goals before, I’d been proud of things before, but these things created a different kind of satisfaction because I was now old enough to realize that by learning to make tuna casserole I would never not-know how again.

Fast forward another 15 years and I’m supposed to tell these kids how to be confident —but having rehearsed my own story I had an answer. Create success and then celebrate it. There are times when we do well without having made concerted effort to do so —the notes I’d written to my friend— these are still successes. There are other times we do what we need to do, but do it very well —the paper my teacher complimented— these are also successes. And then there are times when we purposely work toward something —learning to make tuna casserole— and we do what we set out to do. In every instance we have the choice of shrugging off, counting the accomplishment as unworthy of notice and moving on, or we can take a step back, notice the improvement we’ve invited into our lives, and let ourselves feel good about it. Every time we allow ourselves to feel good about something we do, I believe we create a greater desire to do it again. We want to feel good, and noticing our successes allow us to do that. So I looked at these awkward kids stuck in an awkward age that feels as though it’s going to last forever and told them to start looking for things they do well, start setting small goals they can achieve, surround themselves with people who will applaud their accomplishments, and, in so doing, begin growing their confidence which is so essential no matter what they decide to do as adults. Maybe it’s working extra hard to get that A on their paper, maybe it’s not getting any cavities at the dentist, maybe it’s saving up for a favorite video game —the goals shouldn’t be big, they should simply be attainable. And when they are achieved, they deserve to be celebrated. Perhaps they’re celebrated with a journal entry, perhaps they are shared with someone who pats you on the back, or maybe they are simply something pondered and approved in their own mind. However it’s done, the celebration is the important thing. There are plenty of things to feel lousy about in life —whether you’re 14 or 47— but there are many things worthy of celebration too.

It was a powerful concept to try and explain, I hope they heard me. Even if they didn’t, however, I was reminded all over again of my journey —and I’m proud of that journey. I have dreams yet to realized, perhaps I still have dreams I haven’t dreamed about, but I sincerely hope that as I move forward on my path that I will take the time to feel good about those things I accomplish. After all, if I won’t celebrate the little things, who will?


Bibliobabe April 28, 2010 at 10:54 AM  

A great post! I think it's true that success builds confidence and the desire for even more success.

I met Josi a few months ago (we both live in Utah). She is so sincere. The ideas for her stories are too cute and creative!

Such a beautiful picture of her!

Josi May 9, 2010 at 12:56 PM  

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be on your blog--and to explore this topic. I was reminded of a lot of great things that have happened in my life.

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