courage quote_opt

I used to say I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid.  Out loud.

I even brought my stories to school for my fourth grade teacher to critique.  I proudly wore, then displayed the button she gave me.  I still have it.

i am an author_opt

My kid badge of courage.


Sometime after high school, that courage deflated a bit.  I still wrote, but I filed it all away in a large Rubbermaid container.

Part of it was a lack of direction.  Part of it was fear.

fear quote poe_opt

Because it takes courage to put yourself out there–whether you are making new friends, trying something new, or setting goals toward your dreams.  Maybe you hesitate, fill in all the unknown factors with worry, or maybe you paralyze yourself with fear, imagining your hopes floating unattached, like the fluffy bits from a dandelion.

What happens when you put it all out there?

Sure, there are scary things, like rejection.

But, you also leave room for opportunity.

This past week I got the chance to be a literary judge for a local elementary school’s PTA Reflections program.  They were looking for a writer.  My dandelion bits made their rounds (thank you Andrea!), and they asked me.

The writer.

I don’t think it had anything to do with my once upon a time literary connections.

coleen meets babar_opt

Hobnobbing with Babar in the 80s.


The opportunity presented itself because I put myself out there.

 It’s not always easy to be open, but YAY for new opportunities!

But wait–what does a children’s literary judge wear?

Something classic, maybe Suess-ian or Potter-esque?

 Or, perhaps someone more inspired, more representative of Life and the Great Quest . . .

coleen finds waldo _opt

I found Waldo.  In my own backyard. 


Then I settled down to read the reflections of future artists.  The theme this year is Magic of a Moment.

Reading the stories and poems reminded me how much courage abounds in the young.

So, of course, I carefully swept the “magic of a moment” essence off those papers with my unicorn tail hair brush.  That sort of pixie dust is akin to the Fountain of Youth.

So if you’re looking to reclaim some of that gutsy kid attitude, I’ve left some on a dandelion in the Jungle of Nool.

Waldo will lead the way.

What are you mustering courage for this week?  Are you more of a TRUTH, or DARE person?  If you could dress up as any literary character, who would you be?

Let me know in the comments! :)

52 thoughts on “Literary Hobnobbing: Let Yourself (and Your Dreams) be Seen

  1. Susanna Leonard Hill

    How wonderful that you got chosen to be the judge (although it must be hard to choose!) It’s such a treat to read children’s writing – they say the most amazing things! Hmmm… dress up as a literary character? Maybe the dragon from My Father’s Dragon. Or maybe Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle or Mary Poppins (I have been called Susanna Poppins!) Or maybe that fabulous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phyllis :)

  2. 4amWriter

    This is neat timing for me. I have an opportunity to “take over” a citywide reading/writing program that culminates in a writing contest. This means I would have to be willing to stand behind my credentials as a writer and a teacher of creative writing to kids–none of which has ever been officially stamped on certificates or awards or anything. It’s just myself saying “I might be able to do this.”

    Of course, much of my decision comes down to time and whether I can fit it in among everything else I have to do. But I see it as an opportunity at getting my name and my new writing/editing business “out there,” as you say.

    I love that you were able to partake in that program. It must have felt so good that people turned to you, having heard you are a writer, and believing in that, and trusting that you could handle the job. What a rush.

  3. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

    I love that you have your dream written out at Starbucks.. I can imagine looking around the room would start some pretty neat conversations!! It’s lovely to have found a dream that began at such a young age.. and now you’ve gone full circle inspiring other young minds:) xx

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Now you’ve got me thinking what else I could have them write. Hmm. “Gearing up for NaNoWriMo!” or “Hoping to finish a 5k” or maybe just “Need suggestions on what to make for dinner.” :)
      Thanks Barbara!

  4. Pat O'Dea Rosen

    Three thoughts after reading this post:

    1. That elementary school chose well in picking you as the contest judge.

    2. Your fourth-grade teacher was a good’un.

    3. You couldn’t leave the gutsy kid attitude somewhere easier to find?
    Pat O’Dea Rosen recently posted..Let’s Work TogetherMy Profile

  5. Patricia Titon

    Loved your post. It is amazing how fearless children are — everything is a possibility and imaginations soar. When do kids lose that innocence and feeling they can do anything? The opposite of fear is faith. Loved the encouragement from your 4th grade teacher — and you kept it as a compass. Literary character — Anne Shirley.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Anne of Green Gables would make an excellent costume!! :)
      My guess is that the courage begins to waver around puberty, but i agree with you about faith Patricia!
      Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I think i always picked truth in the truth or dare game too. Far too many unknowns left in the hands of kids looking for a laugh. LOL
      Good luck with your week Stacy. Happy writing. :)

  6. Heather

    I love this for so many reasons, from The Raven excerpt, to the costume, to the lovely encouragement to put ourselves out there!

  7. Patricia

    If I could dress up as a literary character I’d be Anne of Green Gables (because I want to live in that cool house and I love red hair).

    I love dares, but truth is so much better, in my opinion. Nothing is scarier than telling the truth, especially if I am the guilty party who must confess to my wrongdoing (like eating all of the potato chips).

    I will take your Starbuck’s challenge, but I usually go through the drive through so it wouldn’t really be any fun. Maybe I’ll get my lazy ass out of the car and actually step foot inside the establishment next time.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..“I’m Watching That!”My Profile

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Send me a pic of your cup!! I go through the drive thru a lot too. Depending on what you ask them to write, you may have a lot of curious heads peeking out that window when you drive up!
      And me too with the confessions–I feel compelled to say I ate all the chips. For me it must be a flashback from Catholic school. LOL
      THanks Patricia :)

  8. Lynn Kelley

    Wow, the pin your teacher gave you is a gem! How awesome. I’m so glad you saved it. Yes, Coleen, you are a writer, and a super talented one at that. Waldo, that’s perfect! You are so much fun, girl!

    Hmm, that’s a tough question, which character would I be? Well, I’ve always loved The Wizard of Oz, so I guess Dorothy would be my first pick, even though I look more like Auntie Em! Haha!

  9. Julie Glover

    How awesome to judge that contest! I remember the Reflections essays time with my kids.

    I think that button and your costume are awesome. I would like to dress up as Nancy Drew with the cardigan and 60’s hair flip, please.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I’ve always wanted to do a Pippi Longstockings costume with the braids that stick up! You all are coming up with some great options.
      Thanks Lynette!

  10. Emily R. King

    This may be my favorite post you’ve ever written. But I say that practically every week, don’t I?

    It used to be easy for me to say, “I’m going to be a (blank) when I grow up.” Now that I’ve “grown up” (or as up as I’m gonna get, at least height wise) I have a hard time saying: I’m a writer! I’m a very practical person. I suppose I’m avoiding the inevitable (or imagined) scrutiny such a proclamation incites. Perhaps someday I’ll stop being so darn paranoid about someone thinking less of me because I’m a writer (i.e. hopeless dreamer, practiced liar, etc.). :)

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I get that Emily. I still cringe a little when someone random asks me what I do, because I feel like I’m saying Hopeless Dreamer too. Usually they are pleasantly surprised. They only ask for proof of my “credentials” in my overactive mind. I think we are hardest on ourselves.
      Thanks Emily :)

  11. Alarna Rose Gray

    Lovely post, as always – and I quietly covet that authors badge! What a cool teacher to give you that! This week I am mustering the courage just to keep putting myself out there… as for literary dress ups? That’s a hard one… I was a bit of a Nancy Drew fan, too. But I suspect dressing up as the Witch from Narnia would be more fun :)

  12. August McLaughlin

    I love this post, Coleen. That cup shot reminds me my IAAW project (which will appear soon ;)).

    Putting ourselves out there does take some gusto, partly because we open ourselves up to others’ judgment and skepticism. Not putting ourselves out there would be sooo much worse. And sheesh, if you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of knowing you.

    I’d love to dress up as Gizmo, who is not a literary character per say, but happened to pop to mind. LOL
    August McLaughlin recently posted..Self-Publishing with an Agent: A Viable Option?My Profile

    1. Coleen Patrick

      Gizmo is super cute! And I’m sure there was a book in the merchandise that came out with Gremlins!
      It’s a pleasure to know you too August! Looking forward to your IAAW post!!! :)

  13. Tameri Etherton

    Too much fun, Coleen! You are adorable in your Waldo costume. That’s brilliant that you got to judge the Reflections submissions, and even better that it prompted this post. I think it’s important to be reminded of our childhood dreams. Life has a funny way of getting in the way and our dreams need a little nudge. If I could be a literary character? There are so many to choose from, I can’t pick just one. A mash up of all the kickass heroines out there. That’s what I’d be!

  14. Elizabeth Anne Mitchell

    Wonderful post, Colleen! It’s timely for me as well, since I’m taking Kristen’s Blogging for Brand course, and have to describe myself–which throws me into full impostor syndrome.
    It is good to leave the comfort zone; thank you for reminding me that everything was my comfort when I was young!

    The costume is a tough one. I love strong women characters, so I’d love to dress up as the Wife of Bath. (and sadly, that is pretty nerdy!)

    1. Coleen Patrick

      Oh the full impostor syndrome–I know it well. I felt a bit paralyzed having to do that, but Kristen’s class is so worth it!
      So a character from the Canterbury Tales–now that would be a lot of costume. But cool, nonetheless!
      Thanks Elizabeth :)

  15. Chris Edgar

    Next week, I’ll be in the studio for two half-days recording the vocals for the second episode of my online animated musical — working in the studio with real live people for a bunch of hours, with only the engineer accompanying me, will surely be a test of my abilities as a budding musical director. But this is clearly my path and I intend to follow it!

  16. Anonymous

    the first time I identified myself as a writer was amazing. and when I uploaded my first book to Amazon, it was in alt for a week. amazing amazing experience. thanks for the reminder.

  17. Kristy Shen

    I love this post. It’s as heartwarming as it is inspiring.

    I’m more of a truth person, and if I could dress up as a literary character, I’d be Katniss. I love kick-ass heroines.

    1. Coleen Patrick

      Thanks Kristy! I haven’t been paying attention to what’s big in costumes this year, but now I’m wondering if Katniss will be a popular one?? Great choice! I’d love to have the bow and arrow!

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