About Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Known as The Belle of All Things Southern, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a national best-selling author, speaker, radio host, and columnist from Louisiana.

Don’t Let Your Muse be a Prima Donna

Granted, there’s nothing particularly sexy about the image here, but that’s exactly the point I hope to make today. I have plenty of writing mistakes behind me, and, no doubt, I’ll probably have more ahead of me, but my biggest mistake, by far, has to have been my slow recognition of how to live with a flighty muse.

I fell in love with words and books as a little kid, and the magic holds as much of a spell on me as it ever did. Even now, watching the letters group up into words and the words into sentences on this page pleases my eyes and settles my soul; only now I know there is nothing mysterious about the magic! I once thought of my muse as this elusive creature who must be cajoled into making an appearance. I had to attend to her every need with just the right coffee/surroundings/writing pad, etc.  Otherwise, like some spoiled prima donna, she might get offended and disappear as quickly as she arrived. There’s a good country word for that sort of thing: bologna!

If I might digress a moment to a much more important subject, I’ll use my last breath on this green earth helping my fellow believers understand that this same principle is applicable to our life in Christ Jesus. I believe it’s vain to wait on some supernatural hunger for God’s word and His fellowship in prayer to bonk us all on the head and propel us to our quiet places. And yet, I know that when we bend our will to His and seek Him diligently, He meets us and begins forming those very desires within us. Now, THAT is good news, any which way you slice it. And now, back to your regularly scheduled writing post.

My muse wears work clothes. She has to, y’all. Deadlines call from every corner. Oh, yes, I love words and writing as much as ever, the process will always feed my soul. But if I were waiting on a flighty muse to show up and perform, I’d be dead in the water.

Like so much else in this life, I’ve found that success comes when one foot, or word in our case, is placed in front of the other, time and time again. I can’t get the hours back that I’ve wasted in the past, waiting on my muse to show up and perform, but that’s okay. Experience is, after all, a mighty fine teacher. I may have stumbled towards the understanding, but I’ve learned that my muse, she is me. I’ve taken the power back, and it feels good. Who knows, if she’s good, I may even treat her to a caramel macchiato!

Do you wait for inspiration, or do you start without it?

What Do Collard Greens have to do with Marketing Mojo?

Hey y’all, let’s chat…I’m Shellie, they call me the Belle of All Things Southern, and I’m here to talk about marketing. Don’t roll your eyes at me. These talks are good for us. (Right, Super Agent Greg?) Being an incurable storyteller, it’s my natural inclination to open any discussion with a tale to illustrate my point, and my Papa tells a childhood story that perfectly captures my thoughts on marketing. So, please, join me on memory lane.

Ola Mae Rushing was my paternal grandmother. I remember her as a widow woman, worn slap dab out and spending most of her days resting her bones in a squeaky green recliner, watching the seasons of the Louisiana Delta change outside her picture window and Bob Barker charming the masses on her black and white TV. Together my grandparents had raised a dozen kids to adulthood before Papaw Rushing passed away. After his death, Grandmaw sat down and retired–from most everything. Papaw Claude had worked the land as hard as a plot of ground has ever been farmed during those early years, but life was anything but easy. There had always been more month than money and more hungry mouths than food to feed ’em, which brings me to the point of our story.

One day Grandmaw set a single pot of collard greens on the table and told everyone to help themselves. Papa was just a little boy, and collard greens were the last thing he had in mind to fill the pit in his hungry stomach.

“I don’t like collard greens!” he announced. “I hate collard greens. I ain’t eating any collard greens!”

The way Papa tells it, Grandma promptly escorted him outside for a Come to Jesus meeting.  Upon his return, Papa wasted no time pulling his chair up to the table and saying, “Pass the collard greens, please.”

That’s the sort of love/hate relationship I have with marketing. To be perfectly honest, it takes a remedial Come to Jesus meeting to keep my thinking straight on this one, but God is ever faithful to help me adjust my attitude. This writing life is a hard one, but it’s a blessed one. I’m getting to do what I’ve dreamed of doing from childhood when I spent my days in the arms of my favorite tree with a pile of books, a #2 pencil, and my Red Chief notebook. I write words, and people read them.

Sure, my “brand” was a huge surprise. I never intended to be a walking, talking, southern celebration, and I never ever set out to write humor. This is the platform that God built. Due to its perpetual deadlines, I get to build line upon line relationships with people, which brings us to a place where I can speak more important things into their lives than Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On or Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy. Not that those aren’t serious issues, but I live to talk All Things Jesus. Towards that end, I’ll gladly pull my chair up to my desk today, tomorrow, and as often as is necessary with a smile on my face and a burning resolve in my heart.

“Pass the marketing notes, please.”

Hugs, Shellie

What helps inspire your marketing mojo?