It was brought by evil to be used as a weapon for evil. It was restored by good to become a beacon of good. A metal bar from a London lamp post entered into the land of Narnia on the same day that it was created. Its carrier refused to let go of power in her home land that had seen her standing alone at the end with her sister in opposition.
But when the bar was unleashed upon the good in Narnia, it failed. Not only did it fail, but it was transformed into more than its original use in London. A single flame lamp that burned indefinitely night and day. It became the first real landmark of the land of Narnia and many years later met 4 inquisitive children as they stepped from refurbished wood into the woods of Narnia.
Beloved are the Chronicles of Narnia to many individuals young and old. I became enthralled with the magic within when I was young and from there I have read the series at least every other year. While many find the introductory stories of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian) to be their favorites; I always enjoyed rereading The Horse and his Boy. It’s a story of reinvention. Lewis’s characters live on the pages as a testament to what can be if we choose to reclaim what was lost. But Narnia was not meant for one person or one dream. It was meant to be series of lessons that can be learned to create awareness. By choosing the “Narnian Way” the adventurous are taking on the dignified task of becoming more faithful and self-reliant at the same time. A task many take a life time to learn.
In this blog series, I want to approach the characters in Narnia who reveal this “Way”. Any journey that is taken needs a Call, a Choice and a Reinvention. Upon successful completion of these steps, we are introduced to a Principled individual. A character who has taken on all the best parts of the word he lives in plus the inspiration from God.
So if you ever find yourself being pulled into another land (whether by a horn, a magical ring or the urge to walk through a wardrobe) and you find yourself in a forest lit only by a London lamp; it might be time to consider a reinvention.
"Love is Patient. Love is Kind."
Recently I have had the opportunity to be corrected on how I respond to people when they ask how I am. My go to up till recently has been to say "oh, very busy, but good." Apparently this isn't the best way to convey what it is that you indulge your time with. The article I read described how a shift from the standard "I'm busy" response to the more articulate "I've been very productive" can really open up a conversation and provide more substance to you as a person. So I took the challenge and the results are in!
1. My conversations have greater yield to them.
By this I mean that when I meet someone for coffee or see someone in passing, I am better able to communicate with them by not just stating how "busy" I am. We all are busy. But I intentionally only commit to things I am passionate about. This way I am best able to volunteer my talents and measure productivity for the person or organization. Now most people don't know this. When I was saying that I was "busy", people assumed that I just was over committed. But people were more willing to continue the conversation when I talked about productivity.
2. It has challenged me to listen to my tone of voice more.
When I would say, "Oh, so busy" subconsciously I would make my voice sound tired and worn. Since obviously this was not true, I would grow irritated with myself afterwards. When I started the challenge of saying "I've been very productive", I gave myself the opportunity to let the excitement and passion in my voice stand out! This also helped the following conversation to be much more engaging and uplifting as I wasn't (unintentionally) seeking sympathy by my tone.
3. Credibility was added to the projects I was a part of.
When I met with people, rather than just stating that I was "busy" and layering it in a tired or worn tone, I now was excited about the completion or duration of the work I was a part of. This has added credibility to me as a spokesperson of these organizations. No one wants to hear a 4 word, prepared elevator speech that begs sympathy from its listener. Friends, families and investors want to hear the excitement in your voice. They want to see the pictures that you will paint with your wordplay. They want to see you have firsthand experience and know how to articulate it convincingly. Ultimately your goal is to get them excited enough in what you are doing that they wish to be a part of it as well. As a person you have upped your substance and the credibility of those you work with.
So how do you manage the "Art of being crazy productive"? Simple. STOP above all else using the word BUSY. Next, listen to your tone of voice during greetings or conversation and change anything that isn't totally honest in it. Lastly, by doing the above two steps you will find that you are more credible. With less time spent being tired and brief, you can now create vibrant conversations about the organizations you work with.
"Love is Patient. Love is Kind"
As many of you already know, i have ventured into the realm of children's books. It's a brave new world for me as i knew very little going into it about the best practices. Publishing my first book in 2014, was a lonely experience that i loved, but thankfully i don's have to do this book alone. I am taking along my dear friend and talented artist, Amy Mossman. But with everything, no amount of artistic ingenuity and tailored reading can create the perfect children's book. Plans are essential. Strategy is your best friend. In the next 3 points, i am going to break down what I have found essential in children's book writing.
1. Deadlines. But meetings shouldn't be all business.
It is really healthy to set yourself deadlines, especially on the projects you really care about. When i first approached my friend about coming on board to this project, we both new that deadlines were what was going to keep us afloat. I am a non profit employee and advocate by day and an author in the little time outside of that that is left. Amy is a mother of 2 grown up, busy kids and is she herself is in school perusing a degree in the medical field. Yet the ideas we had put together impassioned us so much, that we set deadlines in place to help create these. But when we've met, we do life first. We engage in each others ups and downs, and share in our growing friendship. Then we integrate our business project into the conversation. Productivity flairs as we are both invested not only in the finished project, but each others livelihoods.
2. Contracts are a necessary evil.
One of the hardest conversations i have ever had, was with my illustrator Amy as we talked through the necessity of a contract. Neither of us had taken on a project like this before. As it turned out, all was well in the end. Here is what we learned from the conversations:
a. We valued each other as artists. No one wants to feel like what they are contributing is undervalued. A contract is a legal way in which to ensure that both participants feel valued in their work.
b. Having the conversation about contracts first before actually presenting the contract is classy. Our friendship was protected by us taking the time to talk through this option. As legalistic as i can sometimes be, when i hear the word contract my mind goes to how impersonal that can be.
3. You are the child's voice. The author and illustrator are a team.
Again, having never done this before, i had a lot to learn. Once such lesson i had to learn in private, was that even though i wrote the story line, the illustrations were the emotions of the character. Thankfully, Amy and I really never disagreed on illustrations or story line. We had such a healthy respect for each others creativity. But sometimes when i was writing alone, i caught myself thinking of the story as "mine" rather than "ours". When you can correct this thinking during a collaboration, the character becomes that much better and the story line becomes that much realer.
So there you have it. The anatomy of a children's book collaboration. Our journey has so genuine because we abided by the above ideas. We not only invested in bringing to life this character, but we shared in each others lives. What a journey!
"Love is Patient. Love is Kind."