Believing Mirrors

Do you have a trusted group of other writers who read your work and give you honest advice?

I am fortunate to have one in Selma, North Carolina. We meet monthly in the back room of Coffee on Raiford, initially cloaked behind the sign, “Ladies Book Club,” which endeared barista Zena Hamilton-Rose to us forever.

Michele Leathers, Noah Daniels, Dot La Motta, Cindy Brookshire and Gary Ridout of the Selma (NC) Critique Group, a small group within the Johnston County Writers Group. which Gary founded in 2014. The original group, more than 30 years ago, included artist Sandra Honeycutt and award-winning mystery novelist and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Margaret Maron.

I also meet once a week on Zoom with two writers, Angie McClure and Evelyn Parham. We are working our way through the third of Julia Cameron’s many Artist’s Way books. This one is Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance.  Cameron calls the trusted relationships that we’ve built with other writers and artists “believing mirrors.”

Very often, it is perseverance – not talent – which wins the day. Too often, we become discouraged by a single rejection. We forget that negative criticism is only one person’s opinion. Discouraged, we fail to go forward. This is where we often need the help of a “Believing Mirror”– someone who sees our potential and the potential of our work. — Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

In December 2020, I was notified that the Board of Directors of the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County approved an Artist Support Grant for my book project, “12 Stories of Activate Selma NC.” Artist Support Grants fund professional and artistic development for emerging or established artists to create work, improve their business operations, or bring their work to new audiences. This is the third time I applied for a grant to help fund the project. Perseverance definitely worked. But so did my community activism that helped me define the project in clearer, more focused terms. Now I can announce:

This  project  is  supported  by  the  United Arts  Council  of  Raleigh and  Wake  County  and the  North  Carolina  Arts  Council,  a  division of  the  Department  of  Natural  and  Cultural Resources.

I am so grateful! While I’m the one doing the interviews and writing as an unpaid artist, the grant award will help me pay for a professional editor and a book producer through my membership and contacts in the North Carolina Writers Network and Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. I will also be hiring a professional photographer.

So far, I’ve finished five interviews for the book. The Vision Board I set up in my “War Room” closet at home both focuses me and helps me track the details of the project.  Most importantly, I rely on my believing mirrors – Angie, Dot, Evelyn, Gary, Michelle and Noah, who will be offering encouragement, accountability and camaraderie as I go along.

My 3D Vision Board for my project, “12 Stories of Activate Selma NC.” The t-shirts are on sale at Coffee on Raiford in Selma.

This will be my first self-published, stand-alone work. I trust in the Creator who is working through me. I know that the PROCESS is more important than the end PRODUCT. My final report is not just a book. I want to document and express how this process changes Selma, and changes me, and helps me develop as a professional creative artist.

Thank you, United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, and the North Carolina Arts Council, for this grant. #unitedartsgrants @UnitedArtsCounc

Follow my progress of the “12 Stories of Activate Selma NC” on this blog.

Follow Activate Selma’s progress on our Facebook page. Here are a few of our activators who are using weekly dialogues to build community!

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