Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How I Landed My Own Column (Without Writing a Pitch)

Photo by Sherri Ross Walters


Just as I do at the end of every year, this past December I wrote down a list of goals for 2014. This time, though, I did things a bit differently. This time I wrote my goals as declarations not aspirations. So instead of writing "I want to land my own column in a local print publication," I wrote "I will land my own column in a local print publication." And by January 31 I had done exactly that.

I am now a columnist for B-Metro magazine. My first piece ran in this month's issue and addresses the issue of whether or not there is a feminist aesthetic. In other words, can you tell a person is a feminist by looking at her?

My column, called Write Like a Girl, will tackle everyday feminism and women's issues each month.

When I wrote down my declaration last year I also determined that once I did snag this column opportunity I would write a post about how I did it. In the post I would examine the anatomy of the perfect pitch. But I didn't write the perfect pitch. In fact, I didn't write any pitch. I was actually offered this opportunity before I had the chance to ask for it. 

Nonetheless, I do have a few tips to offer.

Believe in your goals. I'm a woman of faith. If you're not, this tip might sound a bit weird, but it's similar to concepts explored in books like The Secret. I truly think that one reason I got this opportunity is because I believed I would. I had faith, faith that I displayed by writing out this goal as a declaration and not simply as an aspiration.

Share your goals. I also believe in the power of simply saying your dreams out loud. You have to be careful with this. You can't share your dreams with everyone. Some people are haters and will discourage you from going after your goals. But I am fortunate enough to have a group of women in my life who support me, women I met through See Jane Write. One evening at a coffee shop in Homewood I shared my dream with my pal Tanya Sylvan. The glow in her eyes showed she believed I could achieve this as much as I did and that gave me the confidence boost I needed to enter the new year with boldness. Furthermore, sharing your dreams can help in a practical sense as your friends can let you know when they learn of opportunities that may help you with your goals.


Support the goals of others. I have this mantra about blogging that I often preach: Focus on people, not page views. Some may think that the editors of B-Metro approached me about writing a column because I have a wildly popular blog that gets millions of page views each month. I do not. But this little blog you're reading right now is part of a bigger project. For the past three years I've been offering panel discussions, workshops, and networking events for local female writers and bloggers through the See Jane Write organization and I've made name for myself among local editors in the process. I landed my freelance gigs with UAB Magazine and WBHM 90.3 FM because of See Jane Write. By striving to help people make their dreams come true I began to realize my dreams as well.

Have you landed a column with a local or national publication? How did you do it?




This post originally appeared at SeeJaneWriteBham.com

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Jesus Feminist Book Club Week!



In the back of of the book Jesus Feminist you will find discussion questions meant to facilitate small group discussion or to be used as journal prompts. This week guest contributors will tackle some of these questions in guest posts to the blog of Sarah Bessey, author of the book. 

Bessey is calling April 21-27 Jesus Feminist Book Club Week. I recommend that those of you reading the book or even those of you considering reading the book check out these posts this week. I'll be back at the end of the month to share my thoughts on the book as a whole. 

Jesus Feminist Book Club Week kicks off today with Sarah Schwartz responding to this question: 

Does it seem radical to you that God thinks women are people too? 


Later this week we'll hear from Osheta Moore, Tamara Rice, Zach Hoag, Jerusalem Greer, and Amena Brown.

Let's support these writers and Sarah Bessey by reading and commenting on these posts. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Color Me Fun



On January 1, 2014 I announced via this blog and social media that I would exercise every day this year. It's mid-April and I haven't missed a day yet. 

For my workout on Saturday I walked 3.1 miles while people threw handfuls of brightly colored cornstarch at me. Yes, that's right, on Saturday I participated in the race known as Color Me Rad

Color Me Rad is a 5K that "fires off in a blaze of color bombs, color cannons, color mortars, and multi-toned courses." In each city Color Me Rad is held a portion of the proceeds from the race is donated to a local charity that partners with CMR. Birmingham's race benefitted the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama. 




Despite the heat, the hills and the itchy cornstarch my cousin Tasha and I had a blast during our trek around the Hoover Met on Saturday. My cousin is still recovering from an ankle injury so we chose to walk, not run, the race, but we got in a great workout nonetheless and had a great time.

I'm always telling my friends that exercise should be fun and Saturday's race reminded me to practice what I preach. I wasn't concerned about how long it took me to complete the race. I wasn't checking my Polar fitness watch to see how many calories I'd burned. I was just having fun.

Here are more pictures from the race:




I think Big Foot came to the race too!



A conga line broke out at the after party!









Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Want to Be a Jesus Feminist



In the first chapter of her book Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey declares, "Jesus made a feminist out of me." 

Later she defines Jesus feminist for anyone left perplexed by the term: "I call myself a Jesus feminist because to me, the qualifier meant I am a feminist precisely because of my life-long commitment to Jesus and his Way." 

I am not a Jesus feminist, but I want to be. 

I am a Christian and I am a feminist, but I am not a Jesus feminist, at least not according to this definition. I am not a feminist because I am a Christian. In fact, I've spent the past decade declaring that I am a feminist despite the fact that I am a Christian, or vice versa. I've spent the past decade wrestling like Jacob with the angel trying to reconcile these two belief systems that are at the center of almost all that I do. 

But I am tired of the battle. 

And this battle is a silly one. 

Jesus is my favorite feminist. Reading the Gospels, it's clear that Christ saw women as people. He didn't treat us differently from men. As Bessey writes:

We weren't too precious for words, dainty like fine china. We received no free pass or delicate worries about our ability to understand or contribute or work. Women were not too sweet or weak for the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or too manipulative and prone to jealousy, insecurity, and deception to push back the kingdom of darkness. Jesus did not patronize, and he did not condescend. 


Bessey, a Canadian, didn't grow up with many of the ideas about gender roles that prevail in America, especially in the Southeast where I live. She didn't face these issues until later in her Christian life.

Ironically, even though I'm a Southern girl I didn't grow up with gender stereotypes either. My parents always taught me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Period. But I'll never forget the day when, excited by a sermon I'd just heard, I remarked that the preacher got me so interested in the Bible that it made me want to go to Bible college and be a preacher one day myself. I was quickly corrected by a well-meaning elder: "Now, you know women can't be preachers." 

Disillusion and disappointment have marked much of my church life due to attitudes regarding gender, race, sexuality, class and more. I've even gone through periods where I've stopped going to church altogether. 

But as Bessey writes, quoting Sara Miles, "You can't be a Christian by yourself." 

So as I continue to re-read Jesus Feminist I will continue to deal with my doubts, my questions, and my hurts. I will continue to, as Bessey suggests, lean into the pain, trusting that there is a balm in Gilead. 


If you are reading Jesus Feminist along with me, please leave your thoughts on chapters 1-3 in the comments section. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Introduction to Jesus Feminist (The Writeous Babe Book Club)


This month I'm kicking off the Writeous Babe Book Club with Sarah Bessey's Jesus Feminist.

I want to discuss this book online and hope to even start a Jesus Feminist small group at my church because I believe in the power of women sharing their stories. As author Rachel Held Evans says in the foreword to Jesus Feminist: "For women who bear the stories of patriarchy, freedom begins with the telling; it begins with those first tender words spoken out loud or written down on paper: 'When I was a little girl,' 'I remember,' 'Once.'"

I appreciate that Bessey opens this book with Idelette McVicker's "Let Us Be Women Who Love." Even in the 21st century feminism is often equated with anger and hate. But in truth feminism, especially Jesus feminism, is all about freedom and love.

She invites us to metaphorically join her on a beautiful beach to talk about "womanhood, church, the labels, and where we go from here."


In my eyes she also invites us to rest, which I appreciate because I'm tired.

I'm tired of being defensive. I'm tired of  trying to "right every wrong and defend every truth, refute every inflammatory blog post, pontificate about every question."

Bessey admits in her introduction that years ago she struggled with these things too, that she "practiced anger and cynicism like a pianist practices scales, over and over."

As women in church and elsewhere we often exclaim that we just want a seat at the table. This can cause us to resent both men and women who've already pulled up a chair.

Bessey offers a new idea:

"And someday -- I really believe this -- we will throw our arms around the people of the Table as they break up the burnished oak. We'll be there to help them heave it out the windows, smashing every glass ceiling" the transparent, mirrored, and stained glass-- all shards of broken lies now." 

I invite you to join me on this journey. During the month of April let's read Jesus Feminist and discuss it here once a week on this blog. For those of you in Birmingham I'd also love to get together to discuss the book as a whole at the end of the month.

I'll be back next Tuesday (April 8) to discuss chapters 1-3.

I hope you'll join me.

In the meantime please leave your thoughts on the foreword and introduction in the comments section.

Happy reading!

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