Thursday, September 17, 2015

Insecurities, Growth and Paper Airplanes by Heidi Chiavaroli

Heidi Chiavaroli
Hi everyone, Heidi here. I’ve been going through some old blog posts and found this, written more than five years ago. I can honestly say I’ve grown in this area—so fun to see that! Anxious to see where you’ve grown in your writing. :)

Last month, as I prepared to enter ACFW's Genesis contest, I printed out the first chapter of my new work-in-progress in order to edit directly off the paper, as opposed to the computer. After the rewriting was complete and safely stored in my laptop, I placed the chapter by our woodstove to use as kindling. I didn't give it a second thought...until hubby and the boys decided to put their efforts into perfecting a paper airplane. They didn't need to look far to find the scraps of paper. That's right. Mommy's manuscript.

Page one was a failure. It barely flew across the room. Page two didn't fly straight. Page three, a bent nose after its first run.

I think they achieved perfection around page seven. Page seven sailed effortlessly through the kitchen, into the hallway, and across the boys' room until it was stopped by a wall. Cheers erupted from the men in my house. I couldn't help but laugh.

Well, my husband refused to let a small thing like a wall stand in the way of page seven's potential. Out the back door he went. I didn't think much of it until I saw his intention: attempting to launch page seven in flight over our roof. Granted, we have a small roof, but it was a windy day. And that was my page seven! What if the wind zipped it down the street where a passerby chanced a glance at my vulnerable words—dismembered from the rest of its body? How can anyone be a true judge of a page's value with six pages missing?

I was too late. Prompted by my two prodding boys, my husband threw page seven up over the roof. It didn't come back. Around he went to the front of the house, boys still whooping and cheering. No airplane in sight.

Page seven was gone.

I didn't make a big deal of it. It was just one page of saved writing, after all. Still, my precious, vulnerable words being sent to the wind gave me a slight feeling of unease. Like all my children weren't safely tucked in for the night.

Why do I feel so vulnerable over a couple hundred words? Why do I feel a need to protect them? Simple. I don't want to fail. I don't want someone—anyone—to judge them unworthy. Yet...what can I gain without the risk?


And so I continue to write. I continue to keep on. I will remain faithful to what God has put on my heart. And if all it is ever good for is paper airplanes, so be it. In this case, it gave my family laughter. Maybe that was God's intention all along.

It wasn't until two weeks after the paper airplane incident that I found page seven fluttering in the breeze beside the front door of my house. I don't know how it survived all the wind, or where it found shelter. But here it was, never far to begin with.

Four years later, I would actually go on to win the Genesis contest in the historical category. I’ve overcome my fear (for the most part) of letting others read my work. How about you? How have you grown in your writing? Have you conquered any old writing insecurities?


Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, wife, mother, and grace-clinger—not necessarily in that order. Ever since taking her first trip to Plimoth Plantation with her sister, mother, and grandmother at the age of nine, she has been fascinated with history and its significance to today’s people and culture. Heidi is the winner of ACFW’s 2014 Genesis Contest, Historical Category. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle.

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