I attended the Romance Writers of America’s National Conference in Atlanta two weeks ago.  During the course of the four-day-long event, I spoke with many writers from all around the country.  Some, like me, were new to the industry, while others were already bestselling authors.  Despite the many differences among the men and women I met, they all shared one common trait – courage.  It shouldn’t have surprised me, considering how much courage it takes to risk rejection and share one’s writing with others.  Nonetheless, the experience made me think about bravery in all its forms.

When I think of heroes, I first think of cops, firemen, and military officers.  I then also consider the everyday hero who dedicates his or her life to serving those less fortunate (whether economically, physically, or mentally challenged).  But really, anyone who dares to be authentic, to speak the truth, and to keep his or her integrity in tact in the face of obstacles, is a hero.

Authors Cathy Maxwell and Kristan Higgins were the two primary speakers at this year’s convention. Both women revealed highly personal stories of life struggles and triumph to nearly two thousand strangers.  They shared their intimate chronicles to encourage us to continue to write, to persist in the face of the constant rejection (or poor reviews), and to never give up.  Their honesty and bravery awed me.  I don’t feel it appropriate to divulge the details of some of their personal moments, but suffice to say few attendees had dry eyes by the end of either speech.  I was both moved and inspired, and for that I’m very grateful.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a Sunday Song.  I do so today in honor of Ms. Maxwell and Ms. Higgins, and of all the others in my life who remind me of the value of courage.  I’ve chosen Sara Bareilles’ Brave because it is so on-point.  Those who follow the blog know Sara B. is one of my favorite contemporary songwriters.  She has an amazing ability to marry a perfect melody with provoking lyrics.  This song is from her latest album, The Blessed Unrest.  Here is an excerpt of the lyrics:

Nothing’s gonna hurt you
the way that words do
when they settle ‘neath your skin

Kept on the inside
and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins

But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly
I wanna see you be brave

To hear the song, check out this Vevo video:

This summer has presented my immediate and extended family with many challenges and reversals of fortune (health and wealth).  Those who know me well know how I try to manage all circumstances, and how much I dread unexpected change.  These past few roller coaster weeks have wrested all control from me, leaving me feeling adrift and uncomfortable.

Rather than crumble under the weight of uncertainty and sadness, I’m going to draw on the stories I heard in Atlanta, and the words of songs such as Brave, to force myself use these unfortunate events to strengthen myself and my writing.  At the end of the day, none of us knows what tomorrow brings.  All we can rely upon is our acquired knowledge, our hearts, and our friends and family to help us navigate the road ahead.  Armed with excellent resources and support systems, I’m going to charge forward with optimism and hope for that better day a week, month or year from now.  Whenever I begin to feel a niggle of doubt, I’m going to play this song like an anthem and press on.

If you are facing an overwhelming obstacle, I hope this post or song has helped you in some small way.

xo-jamie