…those plastic smiles

“Her two worlds collided and there she was, enjoying them both.”

Last night in a dream, I saw my arm as if an outstretched branch of a tree with leaves. The color started going out of the picture moving from right to left leaving the right side a black and white image. I awoke and quickly wrote down the above words and images before they faded.

As I pondered the dream, I realized that my worlds as a fulltime educator and aspiring writer have definitely collided. Yet, I enjoy both until I start fretting over publishing. Then, I feel the strength and color draining out of my celebration.

I continued to mull over the dream well into the morning, along with an article I read yesterday, “The Market for Memoirs” (July/August 2010 edition of “Writer’s Digest”).

This informative article featured experts in the writing business with the tagline reading, “Top literary agents get real about what you need to know to break in—and what you need to do to break out.”

The truth about what it takes to launch a national best-selling memoir confirmed the information I’ve gleaned from my research: a national platform or celebrity status for submitting a nonfiction book proposal to a medium to large publishing house.

I read the long checklist of what “I was not” and then finally reached the section about building a platform through online social media. My momentary excitement bounced up into the air like an egg flipped with a spatula over a skillet.

“Hey, I’m doing that.” I squawked while ruffling my feathers.

Then I read the following and the egg came down with a splat onto the kitchen floor spraying any yoke of hope every which way:

KLEINMAN: An Internet presence is often very helpful. If you have 300,000 followers, you’ll find it much easier to get a book deal than if you have three.”

“You can’t be serious!” I muttered; but this successful literary agent was dead serious and this reality sent me reeling like a firm slap in the face.  

So in order to make myself feel better, I wrote about what matters most in my life, and having a 300,000-person following did not come close to making its way into the top items:

  • Experiencing an interactive relationship with God that fills with His love and guidance
  • Enjoying the serenity that comes from staying close to Him
  • The priceless gifts of time spent with my precious family and friends
  • Writing daily as a way to process my feelings and my life direction
  • Sharing my words as encouragement for others
  • A passion for the arts in multiple forms
  • The smiles painted across the faces of youth who learn to read and finally believe they have worth
  • Riding waves of learning, especially about the craft and business of writing
  • Waking up on a peaceful morning and journaling about an intriguing dream I had the night before
  • Strolling through my gardens smelling the intoxicating scent of roses, alyssum, and gardenia
  • Floating in my sister and brother-in-law’s pool with family while prattling about the day
  • Diving into those cool, sparkling waters of the Colorado River and then swimming around our boat

  • Kissing the cheeks of my adult children while holding them close during those brief hello’s and dreaded goodbye’s


Yes, writing stars blaze across the cultural sky leaving an impressive trail of white. Some burn out quickly while the memory of others continues to sparkle throughout generations. Others’ words tickle the reading pleasures of millions before fading into obscurity.

For me…seeking to live authentically will continue to be a top priority…whether or not I ever receive acclaim for my writing. For I remember, well, those plastic smiles I used to wear when I was popular.

9 Replies to “…those plastic smiles”

  1. What seems to be impossible, God makes possible.
    Seek first….then watch out my friend, because all those things will be added unto you!


      1. I SO AGREE WITH YOU! Your words instantly painted a visual in my mind. How meaningful can it be to, as you put it, “build an army of strangers?”


  2. You keep kissing the ones you love! No one needs 300,000 followers. (After all, where would we keep them? What would we feed them?!) It’s a very strange new world this life by internet. Some of it is lovely “meeting” new people like you. Some of it is bizarre being expected to build an army of strangers….


  3. I wonder how many successful authors really have that kind of internet platform. Not many, I’d guess.

    Joining a network is a good alternative. 🙂 (Welcome to ours, btw.)


    1. Thank you, Cheryl and L.L. Barkat for your insightful comments. I agree with you about living authentically. I get those icky feelings in my gut when I pursue ambitions that wander away from “a loving relationship with Him…and life in community.” As you put it, Cheryl.


  4. Oh JoDee, I’m right there with you. In some many ways. Living authentically in a loving relationship with Him is the thing. Family, friends – yes, life in community.

    Notoriety, popularity? Well, I’m not sure I was ever in the “in” crowd.

    May God lift you up, as you exalt Him in your life and writing.

    Blessings my new HCB friend!


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