Raising Magnolias

Because it's never too late for happily ever after…

Top 10 Lessons Learned.

I’m learning things. Good things. Hard things. Just all the thing-things. At least ten. Certainly more than ten and soon it will be 10X10 but for today. Just this.

The top 10 lessons learned since writing a book.

  1. Most folks are happy that you’ve written a book. But most is not all and not everyone is happy that you’ve written a book. It’s not that they’re unhappy, per se. It’s that they simply don’t care. This was surprising to me, thus a lesson learned. I thought everyone would think this was just the best thing since peanut butter and sliced bread. My dad thinks so, though, so that is enough.
  2. Writing a book feels a little like having a baby. Weird, I know. It starts with that feeling you had with your first pregnancy. A few weeks or maybe a few days it occurs to you, an educated women, that this baby inside of you is going to have to come out. And you panic a little, like it doesn’t seem physically or biologically possible. There’s just not



The night before Pearl launched, I had the same feeling. Panic. Like oops, here I am all fat and pregnant and I totally forgot that I was going to have to push this baby out.

I totally forgot that y’all were going to read my book.

So then you present your baby to the world and you wait. Will they love my baby? Do they think my baby’s cute? Or are they looking at my baby with that “bless her heart, maybe she’ll grow into that nose” kind of look.

My book. It’s my baby and I want you to love it.

3. My original goal was to write a book that someone other than my Mother would read and we’ve gotten there so everything else is gravy. However, I must’ve secretly thought a few other people would read it because I acknowledge them in my very super-fancy acknowledgement page. At first this page included about 4500 people starting with my first babysitter, Mrs. Bell. I finally landed on acknowledging those who had faithfully walked through the fire along side me. What I should’ve done was consider who might actually read said acknowledgements. Because I’m starting to think that a lot of them fall into category 1 and will never know that they played a starring role in my book.

4. I prefer writing to sales. I and I was going to say I prefer writing to sailing but see what happens with spell check? It implies that I know how to sail. I don’t. And I barely know how to sale.

5. My children are watching. OK, this is cheating a little bit. I already knew they were watching. But when Emma Claire told me that writing my book had inspired her to become a writer, and when Coulter said that he thought “Uhm, yeah right” when I told him I was going to write a book but then, ya know, I did and he seems slightly impressed by that, well then that was the reminder. Our children are watching and I’m going to keep showing. Growing. Teaching. Leading. All the good words. And do y’all know how hard it is to impress a 12 year-old?

6. People read their story in yours. This was my hope. My prayer. But y’all! When it happens it is the best. The best-ity-best best.

7. People respond (if they respond) in one of three ways. 1. Oh my gosh! This was so great. I read it in a night.” 2. Oh my gosh! I relate so much to your story. Here’s what I’m going through. Can we talk? And 3. Interesting. I really like how you colored in the lines. What a pretty shade of blue that it. What a rewarding experience this must have been. The #3 people are trying hard to be nice. I appreciate the effort so much, but it’s a little bit like the mom who’s trying to compliment a child’s artwork and she has no flippin clue what it is, so she just compliments the colors.

Nice job coloring inside the lines. Way to go.

8. People surprise you. Friends, colleagues, students, family, sorority sisters and even strangers known only through words  and social media have shared and cheered and trumpeted the news and they’ve bought books. Too many books. All because I asked.

9. Reach for the stars and land in the clouds, right? My first week goal was 500 books. We hit close to 400 and I’ll take the clouds. I love having crazy stupid goals because the view from the clouds is beautiful too. And because I’m such a sailer (see above) I know that now we adjust the sail and we find new ways to share my story which is His story.

10. Writing is easy. Publishing is scary. One-day is easy. Someday, too. But today? Scary. Nichole Nordeman tells this great story about a friend who’s mom had died. They had the hard task of cleaning out her house and he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Totally overwhelmed, the man’s wife suggested that they just open the garage. Nothing else. Just open the garage. As Elisabeth Elliot says, do the next right thing. Open the garage. Now, a year later Nichole learned—after sharing this story all over the country on the Belong Tour—that the man’s mom wasn’t dead. She had just moved.

Seriously. Read that again. So funny. She wasn’t dead.

But the story is still so good. What are you waiting for? Open the garage. Take the next step. Do the next right thing. Writing is easy. Publishing is hard. Journaling is easy. Sharing is hard. Closing yourself away from community is Oh. So. Easy.

Moving toward others in the mess of life is hard. What’s your easy? What’s your hard?

I have opened my garage and bless my own dang heart, you’ve seen the mess. Maybe now’s the time to open yours.

11. Duh. Every top 10 needs a #11. My best lesson YET! A reader challenged me to think further, study further, dig further on a topic that I wrote about in “Pearl”. She handed me literature and then challenged me to do my own research. You know what’s amazing about people reading your book? When they challenge you to make your next one even better.

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