I’ve always dreaded my birthdays. Of the 33 that I’ve been blessed to mark as of today, 3/4 of them have been completely unremarkable. A couple of them—milestone birthdays at that—have been downright awful. So I was down in the doldrums from around the first of November and the closer it got to B-day, the more unsettled I became. Last week, I was just plain stressed. After the year I’ve had, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to the day. Then around Thursday, I saw a quote on my Twitter timeline that said something along the lines of, “the best way to get over a problem is to do something good for others.” (Don’t remember who said it and I can’t find anything like it in the Googles, so maybe it was from a Twitter philosopher. 🤷)
A few weeks ago, I blogged about being invited to join the launch team for the book Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate and Risk by Jordan Raynor. I even interviewed him and shared a bit of his story. Being outside of the US, the publisher wasn’t able to send me the paperback (😢), but I got to download my advance copy early last month. Refresh your memory or read my convo with Jordan here, then dive into my review below!
I have spent roughly half of the last six years interviewing, researching and writing about entrepreneurs and creatives. I’ve profiled them for ezines, magazines, supplements, a documentary and even my own blog. That’s well over 100 people, from those in the MSME sector to ‘bigwigs’ at the helm of large corporations. One of the first questions I always ask is some version of ‘What inspired you to start this venture?’ Essentially, what I want to get at is the ‘why’—what or who is the motivation behind starting that insurance company, or learning to make soap, or writing that book? This ‘why’ is one of the many questions Jordan Raynor explores in his forthcoming book, Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate and Risk. The book is aimed primarily at Christians who are themselves entrepreneurs or creatives, or those who would like to be but are concerned that pursuing ‘secular’ work might not be a true calling or something that genuinely honours God.
If you were here last year for the series about my experiences in the University of Iowa’s online writing workshop, then you know how stressful fiction writing can for me, even though (or probably because) I actually want to pursue it as a full-time vocation someday (whenever I work up the courage to just go for it, already!) In addition to the typical “insecure writer” problems relating to whether anyone will like my work or want to spend their money on it, I’ve also worried about whether this dream is “Christian” enough. Like any good Child of God, I want whatever I do to please Him and point people to Him. I don’t want to just write because I can put words together nicely. I want them to matter. And since I don’t want to write only Christian fiction, how does that even work?
Whenever I’m struggling with something, I always try to turn to the Bible for some answers. Actually, more accurately, I turn to the YouVersion app to look for reading plans related to my issue, which leads me back to the Bible, so same thing. 😊 In June, I found a plan entitled C.S. Lewis and the Call to Create, and it gave me some things to think about. It also led me to the organisation that provided the plan, Called to Create. I signed up for the weekly devotionals, pre-ordered the forthcoming book of the same name, and I’ve just been consuming pretty much everything they post on social media since then.
Last year, on Friday, April 29, at around 6:30PM, I walked out of the offices of my job at the island’s oldest and largest media company and took my last ride on the staff bus. I had officially handed in my resignation letter a month before, but in truth, I had emotionally quit the job several months before. Many people see my decision to leave a stable job at a reputable company as the most irresponsible of acts. How could I do such a thing, in this economic climate?! Don’t I see that there are hundreds—maybe even thousands—of people who would kill to have that job?! Versions of those questions have certainly been voiced to me by concerned relatives and friends, and by HR representatives and would-be bosses in the interviews I’ve done over the past 371 days. Only one interviewer has understood my answer and motivation, and agreed with me. In fact, she had a quote on her wall that expressed the very same sentiment:
There are many great quotes out there about the importance of having a vision, but perhaps the most powerful one is from the Good Book: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18a) It’s vital to have vision for our lives, or we find ourselves stumbling around, trying to figure out just what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to go, and being miserable and unfulfilled in the process. Speaking from experience, I can tell you plainly: it stinks.
It’s still early days yet in the new year, so we have time to sit and ponder or pray and seek a vision for our lives. I reached out to my friend Yanique Griffiths, the heart and mind behind The Vision Project Company, which aims to help adults, children, couples, groups and even business teams learn how to set the right vision for their lives and projects. She shares how she approaches vision setting, the importance of faith, and how she helps others pursue their purpose.
Finished. Done. Finito. Acabado. Terminé. Fertig. Ti pari. Päättynyt. (That last one is apparently ‘finished’ in Finnish, according to Google Translate. I’m hilarious. Hahaha!) My writing course, the University of Iowa’s How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women, ended on Tuesday at 12:59AM, and I made it out alive! After three weeks of zero ideas and sucky drafts that had to be sent to the electronic version of ‘file 13,’ I was concerned that I’d end up punking out of the five-week course after only submitting three assignments. But I powered through the last 36 hours and wrote not one, but two stories—a total of 4,457 words. I wrote five stories over the course of five weeks, y’all! That’s 12,540 words—the most I’ve written since I was in third form and attempting to write the next best thing in teen romance, Sweet Valley High style. I #didthat! And then I slept practically all day Tuesday.
There’s a saying that if something appears too good to be true, it probably is. It’s an adage I used to live by, before I decided that I was an optimist and I would stop looking for the bogeyman around every corner. Well, as it turns out, I shoulda gone with good ol’ pessimism in the case I’m about to relate to you, because this newfound “glass half full” foolishness cost me almost J$10,000.
If you’ve read my first post, you will remember that I credited three sources of inspiration for my return to the blogosphere – Luvvie, my favourite blogger; Amelia, a fictional character in a romance novel; and my friend Janeth Benjamin, who took the bull by the horns and self-published a book. I also promised that she’d be the first person I featured in what I hope to be monthly interviews or profiles with some of the cool, interesting and enterprising people I know. So, here goes:
Amidst the amazing accomplishments of our athletes at the recently concluded Rio Olympics, Jamaica was rocked by the news that our darling Pocket Rocket, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, would be leaving the MVP Track Club at the end of the season. “What?!” “How?!” “WHY?!” “NOOO!!!” Those were my reactions, and I’m sure a lot of Jamaicans felt the same. This is the club that made her – and it wouldn’t be wrong to say she helped make it, too, as its first Olympic medallist; gold, no less. It was certainly a shock to the system.
I love Facebook’s On This Day app, which allows you to see all the posts you made or were tagged in on each day of the year, dating back to the time you signed up. I’ve had a chuckle or an outright belly laugh at some of the things I’ve written there, and enjoyed reliving a few memories. I’ve rediscovered a few things about myself, too:
I’m a joker.
I love to quote random song lyrics.
I had a tumultuous public ‘love affair’ with Asafa Powell.
I’m almost rabid in my support of Team Jamaica at international sporting events.