I am so honored to feature these words of love and wisdom from my fellow-writer and friend, Andi Cumbo-Floyd. In celebration of the release of her latest book, Love Letters to Writers, I asked her to talk about something she knows, something near to my heart – writing and bravery. Please welcome Andi to our conversation…
Dear Beautiful Writers,
Every piece of writing is a risk. I expect you know that. Whether you’re writing fiction and pouring yourself into the characters and plot or whether you’re writing nonfiction and putting your opinions and experiences on the page, there is always risk. Risk that someone will find issue with what you say. Risk that someone will attack you for what you’ve written. Risk that people won’t care enough to read it at all.
That’s why writers – just like all artists – have to be profoundly brave. We have to know the risks – eyes wide-open – and still step out with all our hearts in our work. That’s part of our job as truth-tellers in this world. It takes profound courage and deep tenacity to keep that courage alive.
As a woman who identifies as white and who has accepted her God-given calling to write about the history and legacy of slavery in the United States, I have learned to cultivate bravery in the face of criticism and challenge from a lot of angles – from people of color who think a white woman shouldn’t be doing this work to white people who regularly take issue with my calls for us to own our own racism, to challenge racist systems, and to accept the way that slavery has established very real practices and beliefs that still privilege white people today. Every time I write a book, every time I post an article on social media or my blog, I have to brace myself because it’s possible someone will have an argument, a challenge, or a personal attack for me. I have learned to embrace those things – to honor them as testaments to the fact that I am speaking truth – and to give myself space to process them before I respond (if I respond at all). These are all parts of the courage and bravery I’ve had to learn to cultivate to stay true to God’s call on my life.
Not all of us are called to write about such overtly challenging subjects, and that’s beautiful. But if you are – if you feel God leading you to speak truth into hard, controversial things, let me hold this truth out for you. You could write a piece about how you love the smiley-face emoji the most, and you would get people who fought with you about your opinion. In other words, people are always going to disagree and challenge you. You simply have to decide if you’re willing to stand up even in the midst of that disagreement, and I believe you can.
But it takes bravery, a consistent, daily choice to have courage, to lean back into God’s strength, and to speak the truth in love. Not everyone will agree with you. Not everyone will like what you have to say . . . but so what? The truth will set us free. It always has, and it always will.
So be brave, my friends. Tell the truth as you see it. Be willing to listen and admit when you’ve made a mistake. Don’t give your worth or your identity over to your words. Trust God to show you God’s truth and light, and never, ever back down from your calling. That’s the word of a writer of God.
Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, four dogs, four cats, six goats, three rabbits, and thirty-six chickens. She writes regularly about writing at andilit.com.
Andi’s book Love Letters to Writers (just released 11/14/2017!) is a collection of beautiful, heartfelt, and encouraging letters written to writers and other artists. I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a little something to keep you going – or knows someone who does…xoxox