Readers Beware

Last Monday I started my first class on a long road to my Master’s degree in English and Creative Writing. I got a good grade on my first assignment, so now my readers should prepare to be WOW-ED!

The textbook for this class is entitled Rhetorical Grammar and as you might imagine…it…is…riveting. And after just one week, I already know the difference between prescriptive grammar and descriptive grammar…or at least my professor thinks I do.

Unfortunately, I have to fight the voice in my head that keeps repeating, “You can’t do this, you know. No need to try. You’re not smart enough”. I don’t know if this is the tempter speaking or if this is what I have always believed about myself. Either way it has been sometimes paralyzing as I start this new academic pursuit.

See, as a female growing up in the Deep South in the 60’s, being smart wasn’t a highly valued attribute. I learned that early on. These things were implied if not taught outright.

•A girl doesn’t need a middle name because she’ll just get married, drop her middle name, and use her maiden name as her middle initial. (That’s why I don’t have a middle name.)

•Girls only need to go to college to meet (and marry) a college man. The only other use for a female’s college degree is to help her children with homework.

•Don’t ever be better at anything, especially academics, than the boys. That’s no way to catch a husband.

•Girls don’t need to be athletic. Cheerleading and band are enough physical activities for females. (I didn’t make cheerleader so I was in the band.)

I started realizing that I have the capacity to succeed in the world of knowledge when I went back to finish my bachelor’s degree after two years off from full-time school. I remember thinking, “Why is this so much easier than before?” Part of the answer is that I was older and a little more mature. I was married, too, and paying my own way by then. I was taking an overload of classes and doing well in all of them. Who knew?

For the last nearly 30 years, I’ve been a professional writer dabbling in every kind of literature from drama, to lyrics, to curriculum, to ads, to magazine articles, to books, to blogs. But I was learning to do this by just sitting down and doing it, and always wondering if I was getting it right. Sometimes I guess I did. I found publishers willing to take chances on me, after all, but still I questioned my abilities. I didn’t have the credentials that I  believed I needed to be…believable.

So this is quite daunting, going back to school after so many years. I have to keep those voices out of my head that tell me I can’t do this.

I claim Colossians 2:8 over and over.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

This thought just occurred to me: I hope I don’t show my ignorance by trying to convince you how smart I am. (Hey, I just made that up! I think…)

YuletideBlessings coverAnd by the way, my latest book Yuletide Blessings: Christmas Stories That Warm The Heart, was just released by Broadman and Holman publishers this week. Here’s a link to the site if you want to see what it’s about. And I’ll be doing book signings around the South this fall. Hope I can catch some of my blog followers at one of these. I’ll post the schedule when I know it.


4 thoughts on “Readers Beware


    Nan… Yon are on my top list of smart, clever, able and creative people I know. And here’s a hint… YOU CAN’T SAY CAN’T!!!!.

  2. Sondra Rice

    Nan, you are such an inspiration. You lift me up each time I read your blog. Looking forward to reading your new book and adding it to my collection.

  3. Judy Gemmill

    Nan, loved your honesty. I’m going to give you a word that I received in my early years of speaking to Christian women’s groups in Illinois. I was seated at a lunch table next to a well-published author and the speaker of the day. I was so excited to meet her and very nervous. I shared her excitement and enthusiasm about speaking and writing and loved talking with her.

    Although, I had the BA degree in English, Speech and Communications, I felt very unqualified in her presence. And when I was doubting my abilities and credentials; all of a sudden she asked me, “Are you book trained, or spirit trained?” Wow!! What a question! All I felt comfortable saying was, “I’ guess I’m spirit trained.” She smiled, gave me a hug, and told me that is what is important. She went on talking with the others at the table. But my heart soared, thinking I had just received a special OK from God. But I know what you mean about feeling prepared and qualified in our own hearts.

    Nan, I know that you are “spirit trained.” So now just do what you need to do to feel better about yourself and your calling! I commend you, sister in Christ. YOU GO GIRL! Miss you,



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