Guest Bloggers

Lara Zielin: The World Needs Your Stories

Today’s Guest Post spotlight shines on Lara Zielin. When I first read her post (below), my hand went to my chest. I recognized those feelings. I felt those feelings.

Last summer I experienced a similar situation that Lara describes. The difference though, is that while giving my presentation, I knew I was “off” and I couldn’t get back “on.” I felt like a runaway train took off with me barely hanging onto the caboose. I so wanted to do a great job. Someone recommended me to this group as a presenter. I wanted to make her proud. At the end, I was afraid I embarrassed her and I certainly embarrassed myself.

And when I read what happened to Lara, I took a deep breath.

Lara wrote:

Several years ago, a colleague and I gave a presentation to the board of a national museum.

In the moment, the presentation felt amazing. I had practiced, done truckloads of research, and I felt like I was on my game.

But late that night in my hotel room, I sat up in bed from a dead sleep, feeling like I couldn’t breathe. My brain was re-playing the meeting in slow-motion, highlighting all the things that had gone wrong, all the ways I’d been rejected, all the mistakes I’d made. 

I began crying, recoiling from this terrible movie in my head. I was hardly able to endure the shame. 

I remember thinking, “What do I DO? How do I handle this?”

Today, if I could go back in time, I’d have an answer for Lara. I’d be able to help her. 

I’d remind her this was just an old story rearing its ugly head. This old story was pissed off and scared, because Lara had just done a big, brave presentation, and that didn’t fit with ideas of who this old story thought Lara was. 

I’d counsel Lara to write her way into a better place. I’d help Lara generate warm, positive feelings for herself based on what she wrote. I’d give her the gift of getting through this awful place in an hour, instead of it taking a year. 

Today, what gets me out of bed in the morning is the realization that there are people out there doing bold and brave things, whose old stories are rearing up trying to stop them in their tracks. 

Specifically, I see people trying to finish writing projects and getting stopped again and again, whether it’s finishing a book, or starting a writing business, or launching a blog. 

My dear authors, if we don’t do battle with our old stories, they win. And we can’t have that. Because the world needs to read what you have to write.

~ Sent as an Author Your Life email from Lara on December 10, 2019.

Note from Marlene:  I know what went wrong with my presentation. Or, I should say the many things that didn’t go right. I decided to be grateful and use it as a learning experience.

The lesson I learned from what I considered my less-than-stellar presentation: Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes you are on top of your game. Othertimes, not so much. But mostly, cut yourself some slack. You did the best you could. The next time things get derailed, pause, take a breath. Look around. Fix or change what you can. Smile and carry on.  

Like Lara wrote, people are doing bold and brave things. Are you one of those people? I am, even when I’m not sure I’ll conquer the challenge.

Lara Zielin is a published author, editor, and the founder of Author Your Life. Her debut young-adult novel Donut Days was selected to the Lone Star Reading List, and her romance novel And Then He Kissed Me (written as Kim Amos) was nominated for a Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award. Her magazine articles have appeared in Writers Digest, Culture, Medicine at Michigan, and more. Her nonfiction book Author Your Life is about using the power of writing to create a better story for yourself. She lives in Michigan with her husband and dog, and her goal is pretty much to eat all the cheese. 

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