I love that about you!

ACFWAuthors and writing, Critiques, Encouragement, Faith, Fear/Doubt, tips, writing 6 Comments

by Julia Fenstermacher

Growing up without my mother was hard. I did not realize how much I needed affirmation and acknowledgement until it came to me in my teen years. My Dad did his best to raise us three kids single-handedly. He was a purpose driven corporate ex-military man who traveled for work. When he was home, he cooked gourmet meals for us to entice us to eat our vegetables, beat us in scrabble and backgammon to make us better, and checked our report cards so that we could keep the car keys. He was a wonderful father, but not great at praise.

But his girlfriend was. She floated into my world like a fairy godmother and breathed life into a part of my soul that had died with my mother. The part that needed light and air – the part where the things I was most insecure about – were set free to grow. When I shared things that upset me, she found the best parts in me and focused on them. If I tried out for a sport, and didn’t make it, she praised me for being brave, fighting for what I wanted. I trusted her with my art and writing. If I shared an essay I was proud of, she’d nearly drop her magical wand as she pointed out the best sentence, the best word choice, and how marvelous I was.

Oftentimes she would catch me doing something worth admiring such as my friend choices, how I spoke, how I dressed. Once when she discovered I had borrowed her sweater without asking, she told me her feelings were hurt, but then pointed out how lovely it was that I attached a pin to the sleeve and how fashionable my tastes were!  Later when I became a Christian and learned about Gideon, I recognized how God had spoken to me the very same way through her. I was like Gideon, the man who saw himself as the least of the least, hiding in the wine press, but who God called, “Mighty Warrior.”

I graduated college with a degree in English, and decided to raise my children first then pursue a creative writing career. My ideas were all over the place and my first experiences in critique groups were a big disappointment. Negative feedback was all I heard, and because of it, I recoiled and hid my talent for years. But God had a plan and a story he wanted me to tell.

I wrote the story he gave me, but I was terrified to get feedback because of how disempowering it had been.

“The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior,” was his reply as he gave me the book by Brenda Ueland, “If You Want to Write,” and put me in touch with Calliope Writing Coach, Angie Fenimore and her group program, Submission Possible. Both women taught me how to experience myself as a gifted author, and how to give feedback that empowers authors. The secret is simple. In relationships and in mentoring writers, it is the same: find what is brilliant, point it out and say, “I love this about you (your writing).”  In doing that, you are spurring them on to do more. I love to read and edit for others now, for I know I can give the gift of acknowledgement, shed light on sentences that show a unique style, on tags that work, or on character descriptions that sing and dance.  For it is God’s will that our eyes are “full of light” as we seek and discover what is good. Let us look for what is beautiful and bring it out, then protect it and cause it to grow with words of encouragement, words of love.

“The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior.”

Let us look for what is beautiful and bring it out, then protect it and cause it to grow with words of encouragement, words of love. #ACFW #writing #encouragement #ChristianFiction Click To Tweet

Julia Fenstermacher is an author of Young Adult Speculative Fiction and is polishing up her first novel. She also writes songs, poetry and riddles for scavenger hunts. She lives in the Chicago Suburbs with her husband, Friesian horse, Diesel, and three cats. Julia currently serves as ACFW’s Chicago Chapter Vice President, is a member of Realmmakers, and coaches authors in their craft. Born on April Fool’s Day, she naturally cherishes the silliness, jokes and laughter of life. Join the fun at www.loveandhorses.com



Comments 6

  1. Thank you so much for writing and posting this article – I so needed to hear these words! And thank you for the call and challenge to be like this!

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