“Courage, dear heart…” – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Like many fantasy fans and aspiring writers, I was greatly influenced by C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia as a young reader. My copies of each book are well-worn, having been read cover to cover multiple times over my adolescence. The stories are vivid, the characters beloved, the world-building exceptional. While visiting my parents this week in FLA (fear not – they despise DeSant*s as much as I do and find his actions deplorable) my mom and I visited a used book store in Englewood called The Book Worm. It’s a quaint place with a cozy vibe, and my attention was snared by a vintage collection of The Chronicles of Narnia. Of course, I had to have it. And so, the box set (from the 70’s!!!) is going home with me, to be added to my small collection of vintage books.

I grew up Episcopalian, and I learned many, many valuable lessons from attending church during my formative years. I was blessed to attend a church that was far more welcoming than others, and made connections that I shall carry throughout my life. One of my best friends is a Lutheran pastor, and though I know it is not the same for others, religion was a positive presence in my life for several years. Even though my relationship with organized religion has ended and my faith is no longer what it once was, I will always hold a special place for these religiously allegorical books in my heart. My personal favorite of the series is The Silver Chair, followed closely by The Magician’s Nephew – but the one quote that has stuck with me the most over the years is “Courage, dear heart,” which Lucy hears Aslan saying to her in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in a moment where she needs encouragement.

This quote has stuck with me, and is especially prevalent to my life now. So maybe it was fate of some kind that I found this box set.

I am, by nature, not the bravest person. It takes effort for me to be bold, and I have, on more than one occasion, faltered when I should have stepped forward. Hesitation and reluctance have been my Achilles heel. It is something I am working on, and now, I am trying to break that pattern of behavior, and have courage in the face of great difficulty.

Venturing into the writing/querying trenches again, after a long break (mental-health related, but also from fear) has been frightening for me. The first time around, in 2018, I gave up after a mere handful of rejections. Feelings of impostor syndrome, combined with self-doubt, have plagued me for far too long, and I have allowed the fear of rejection (which, let’s face it – on the road to seeking an agent/publisher, rejection is guaranteed to some degree) to keep me from moving forward. I did seek help from a couple of wonderful editors, who have been pivotal in me mustering the strength to put myself out there again. And so, last month, my querying journey began anew. It’s early days, and my fingers were shaky when I hit “send” on the first couple submissions. I’ve also been slow, only sending a few out at a time, to try and warm up again and dip my toes in the ever-changing sea of the publishing business.

The first rejection was hard – a punch in the gut. Even when you’re expecting some, because it’s inevitable, it’s not easy, as I’m sure many other writers will attest to.

But last time I ventured down this road, I would have let rejections cripple me entirely. Break me down, and let those invasive thoughts tell me that I’m worthless, and my work is not good enough and never will be. In fact, my phone dinged with another rejection email while in that bookstore – although it was nice and personalized – as I was looking at that Narnian box-set. And I think, in that moment, those books were calling to me.

“Courage, dear heart.”

I hesitated a little as I typed up a couple more queries the following day. Those thoughts of “this is hopeless” and “you’re not good enough” pecked at my brain like carrion birds. But that C.S. Lewis quote came back to me, clear and true, to scatter those circling vultures. And so, though my fingers trembled, I hit send. I am determined to not give up, to put in the work, to take encouragement, and coaching, and feedback (both positive and negative) to heart as I move forward down the path that I once fled from. And each time I falter, I’ll simply think, “Courage, dear heart,” and summon the strength to move forward, and meet uncertainty with determination.

2 thoughts on “Courage

  1. Allison Conner! Given my health, I self-published. The cost was $12,000. This included editing, and marketing, like placing on Amazon and other sites. Because is a textbook with long intentional quotes I spent another $5,000 in copyright fees. But it is my legacy. Be proud, have courage, and think, “I did something 99.9 of people have never done!” move forward. You did great


  2. This is a great mindset! I am happy to hear this. I wish you luck! Oh, and I am very jealous of you finding that Narnia boxed set. I had one but gave it away as a teen: I was “too cool” for Narnia. If I could go back in time.


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