merciless beauty and the critical beast

Next week in Nashville, I'll be speaking at the Blissdom '11 Conference with friends Arianne and Cecily about writing and fighting the internal voices that try to hold us back.

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ January 26-28, 2010

Taken from the Blissdom website, the description of our session~
Merciless Beauty and the Critical Beast:

"Your story is bold. Your perspective is courageous and true. You sit down to write mercilessly, vulnerably, and then you hear them: an invisible army of critics in your head. Before you even hit publish, you begin to anticipate the feedback from your outspoken audience. And so you pull back and self-censor. Or do you? How much do you edit yourself before your strong voice becomes watered down by the focus-group tendencies of social media audiences? How can we confidently respect the integrity of our stories while being mindful of our readers? Learn to write with unadulterated beauty while nailing down elusive terms such as “voice” and “authenticity” without having to look those tired words in the eye. Own your space and encourage others to do the same."

Of course, the three of us will not pretend to have all the answers. This will be a philosophical conversation, in which we share our personal journeys with the struggle to write from our hearts while also considering the audience, blogging's immediate feedback, and the fear that sometimes tries to creep in.

Despite our nerves, we're doing our very best to prepare a session that will inspire and teach. I'd love it if you'd share your thoughts or ask a question in the comments if something came to mind as you read the description of the session. I want to be sure to address what people are really looking to know and I'd so appreciate your help. Hopefully by now you know that I think the world of you, the people who take the time to visit this space. Your thoughts really do matter. A lot.

And that's just it. What you think matters...but I can't let what I assume you think stop me from writing what I need to say when I sit down to publish a post. It's a fine balance. If you blog, how do you handle that? What are your fears? Where do you find your confidence? What would you hope to learn from a session like this?

People ask me all the time, How (or why) do you write so publicly about such personal things? I hope this session sheds some light on that, and I believe that it will. If you're attending Blissdom this year, please come by and offer us some support, on Friday, in the writing track. (Thank you!)

This will most likely be my last conference experience for quite some time (with the acorn due in June), and I'm so looking forward to it. I get to share a room with Ellie and Ann and see loads of other friends I've come to know and love. And I get to leave the frozen cold tundra that is Minnesota for a few days which is a much needed thang, believe you me.

Peace out, friends.

16 clicked right here to comment:

One Crafty Mother said...

A couple of issues/questions come to my mind that I would love to hear addressed at the conference:

DO you ever edit or omit because you're fearful of the audience's response?

Is your writing style effected by those inner critics - the ones that are pulled to write FOR your audience instead of from the gut?

Do you avoid topics out of fear? Or face them head on?

You are PERFECT for this panel. You are the best heart-gut writer I know... I can't wait to hear you (and the others) speak!


Don Guitar said...

Letting it all hang out is intimidating but it's also empowering. I quit drinking in 1993. Quietly, cold-turkey because I made up my mind it was time. It wasn't something I talked about, it was just something I did. Once in a while I still wanted a beer or a mixed drink. Sometimes it was awfully tempting. Finally, I started responding to any offer of an alcoholic beverage by saying "Thank you, no, I'm an alcoholic." Now, none of my friends ever offers me a drink and my resistance is forever tied to my self-respect so temptation is pretty much a thing of the past.

Melody said...

I am really looking forward to this session, but don't envy the ladies who have to prep for it. I am sure you guys are going to do wonderfully!

Joy said...

I wish I could attend, just to be in this session right here. I've received the most criticism from people who know me in real life. These are people I can't just blow off because they're out there in cyberspace -- I see them every week, and they have the capacity to make life pretty darn miserable if I really piss them off. I'd love to know if any of you have faced that, and what you do about it.

I've considered an anonymous blog. I have one, but I don't write there much, so I'm not sure that's the answer. I also have begun sending my most controversial posts elsewhere as guest posts. It has scratched my itch so far.

Jenn said...

Oh I would love to hear what you have to say on this topic!

My Bottle's Up! said...

the three of you have such unique and beautiful stories to share, perspectives that someONE will learn from... you teach with your words and your wisdom.

and you have been the ONE stating that if your story reaches just ONE person...

... it will be worth it heather.

you are worth it.

KLZ said...

How do you manage criticism from, say, your husband? Does he ever think you've mispresented things? Do you ask for approval from family members before you post things?

I haven't faced these issues myself but as I gain steam and find a voice more true to me, I've been pondering these questions.

Looking forward to blissdom. You'll be great

Ann Imig said...

I cannot WAIT.

You inspire me. Continually. Oh, and how beautiful do you look at 16.5 weeks?

Amy @ Never-True Tales said...

Wish I could be there! Sounds like a fabulous topic for a panel!

trishatfox said...

Oh, I would love to be there to hear you. Dang that job of mine.

Shaina said...

Expect me to be there. Making faces at you from the audience.

Melissa said...

With my brand-spankin'-shiny-new blog, I don't consider myself a "blogger" or a "writer" really - and I admit to editing my blog when something seems like it might draw negative comments. I know I'll freak the first time a stranger leaves something nasty in my comment box :) Usually, though - when I write the truth - when I'm scared to hit publish, that's when I get the amazing feedback and love that keeps me typing away. Wish I could hear your talk - I hope a thorough blog post will come along afterwards where you share your wisdom with us.

rebecca @ altared spaces said...

merciless beauty. The title intrigues me. Is the beauty merciless? Your willingness to ignore the critical beast?

But you've pair merciless with beauty. Why?

At one level I really understand.

Then there is this secret voice inside me that asks isn't Beauty full of ...mercy? Instead of lacking in it?

It's a tiny thing. But big. Like the way you write.

JCK said...

I love what you do here, and the attendees will be so lucky to hear you. Sounds like a great panel!

If I think too much about the someone who is reading me, it shuts me down. I have to shut myself away - kind of go into a trance of sorts, and let it flow out. Then go back and edit. Then...hit PUBLISH, and it's up for grabs. If I throttle my voice, I'm not me. I need to be me somewhere. And the blog is the place. :)

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

I had an experience today and my first thought was to blog it. To ask what other's would have done if faced with the same situation. Then as I was thinking through the post I could hear the feedback and answers and stopped in my tracks. I guess I fold to the critics, both inside and out.

On a positive note, I am so looking forward to the wave of bliss coming next week.

ExtraordinaryMommy said...

You? Inspire me. I adore you and HATE that I will miss hugging your neck. Consider this great big virtual yurt-type love. And good luck - your session will be amazing. I FEEL it. In my heart-gut.

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