Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FPFG and A Fresh Start

I was out of state last spring at a church adoption conference when I knew it was time. For many reasons, these out-of-the-way speaking gigs are among my favorite kind. With any luck, they serve up a classic church potluck lunch, complete with every salad imaginable, deviled eggs, and eighteen desserts. And often, most of the crowd has no clue who I am. It's oddly freeing and I dig it. On this particular occasion, a woman approached me afterward and said, "You're so different from what I expected. I saw your name on the flyer, Flower Patch Farmgirl, and, I don't know, I guess I thought you'd be talking to us about canning or something."

I wasn't sure how to respond, because on one hand, canning is no joking matter and we would all be so lucky to be thought a canner. On the other hand, if I had to list my top five strengths, canning wouldn't exactly rank. And on both hands and feet combined, it began to feel important that my name represent who I am and what I do.

So I did what I usually do when it's time to make a change.

I talked about it incessantly. I wondered, worried, and twiddled my extra-long thumbs. 

The year that followed was a tangle of similar conversations, to the point that a legit identity crisis was brewing.

Exhibit A:

* April, 2016. Writing conference.
A writer I admire approaches my group. I begin to introduce myself (as Shannan Martin). She cuts me off, saying, "Oh, I know you! You're Flower Patch Farmgirl!" Conversation over.

Later that night, I mulled over the burning question of my existence for the umpteenth time with Cory. "I'm writing a book about living in the city! Not only that, I'm almost forty! The 'girl' part doesn't even work anymore!"

Exhibit B (aka The Final Straw):

* Two weeks later. City engagement conference.
One of the event coordinators is debriefing with me following the event and says, "So-and-so gave me the side-eye when I told her she was speaking with Flower Patch Farmgirl. All I could do is tell her, 'You've just got to trust me'." (So-and-so did trust her and we totally clicked and my fixation of so-and-so has now reached a potentially uncomfortable level for her.)

What I'm trying to say is, my name is getting increasingly difficult to explain. Even more, a name, by virtue, should not require explanation.

There's a disconnect between an author publishing a book about city life, urban poverty, jail, public school, neighborhood community, and diversity, but who bears the name Flower Patch Farmgirl.

I'm making a switch very soon to Shannan Martin Writes, because 1) I'm Shannan Martin. 2) I am a writer. 3) shannanmartin.com was already taken. ;)

The next time we hang out here, things will look a bit different. You won't have to do anything at all. Just keep showing up for me and I'll keep doing the same for you. The top of my blog will be fresh, fly, and so, so pretty. (I cannot wait to show you!)

But everything about who I am and what I'm about will stay the same, which is to say I'll never stop growing, changing, stretching, and circling back to where I started.

A part of me will always be a farmgirl at heart.
I will continue to bloom in the city.
Flowers will always be my friends.
I don't plan to ever stop tracking down the delight of God's goodness in my gritty corner of the world.
I'll keep writing it all down.

We met here, some of us nearly eight years ago, others more recently, and formed a community that is beautiful beyond anything I could have imagined. I can't quit you.

Change has a tendency to make us sweaty in the pits, but it's important. Necessary, even.

Thank you for never being afraid to grow with me.

Forever yours,

(Please don't stop calling me FPFG. It's part of me and I'd miss it too much.)
ps - Plates have all shipped! Glory.