Sounds so glamorous. I remember the first time I turned down an invitation to lunch with the words “Oh, I can’t… I’m writing today.”
“Really?” my friend Laurie replied, “what an awesome way to spend the day! I can’t wait to read your book!”
Nodding and smiling, I left her fantasy intact. I knew in my heart a “writing day” wasn’t just creativity flowing but sometimes meant hours of starting at the cursor blinking and trying to string some words together in a semblance of creativity, thought and inspiration. The myriad of other tasks on my to-do list wrestled with my discipline to actually write. It’s a sad state of affairs when cleaning the bathroom looks more enticing than squeezing out another paragraph from a very dry well.
I once read, “Writing is easy, you just stare at a blank piece of paper till blood drops pour from your forehead.” And it’s true, isn’t it? We bleed on our papers, our heartfelt stories, characters, insights, information born from years of experience and fueled by hopes and dreams. A part of our souls seeps on to the pages. Sometimes it’s stunning. Other times it’s a disjointed wandering that would take a fairy god-editor to render printable.
When I pressed the send button and my first manuscript whisked to my editors mailbox, my stomach was in knots. All the doubts and gremlins came out to play: Was it good enough? Did it make sense? Was it too much, too little, or just plain boring? Publishing a book is akin to entering your heart, soul, dreams and insights in the Miss America pageant, and hoping to make it beyond the first round. It is a tell-all, see-all, bathing-suit competition of doubt, pride and insecurities.
What was I thinking sending my book into the big bad ugly harsh world? Wouldn’t she be safer, just tucked away in my head and heart? Sure. But just like children, we must send them out into the world to grow, change and witness the delight this process brings. Writing a book, is like having a baby: desire, delight, exhaustion, waiting, working, wondering, labor… and letting go.
A few days later, my editor called and with bated breath, I whispered. “So is my baby ugly?” (Thinking, please like it!)
“No, she is lovely, she just needs her hair combed,” were the kind and encouraging, honest words in reply.
We just might make it to the next round.
The discipline of writing regardless of what we are thinking or feeling in the moment, is crucial to actually producing a book. In my book, Listen, Learn, Love, one key element is engaging in relationships based on our commitments not just our emotions. But this is also true with writing. Commitment grows a strong relationship—commitment completes a book. Over time, we write, create and hit send… regardless of our feelings.
And then, just like a baby, we nurture and love our book along the way. Both self-published and traditionally published books require involvement in marketing, promotion, raising the book to maturity just like a child.
It is hard. Doubts, regrets, edits and tweaks and thoughts of I wish I had, or hadn’t, what will people think, and please like my book (baby), will dance through your mind.
But it is worth it… the angst, the wonder, the insecurity, the risk all pale when you’re holding your book in your hands. Embracing the writing life, means wading through the fears and writing—actually writing words on a page, that become sentences, paragraphs and books not cleaning the bathroom, or giving into other distractions or listening to head trash, but actually writing—especially on those days you turn down an invitation to lunch.
See you in the bookstore!
Susie is a cancer survivor, but she’s known as a “possibilitarian.” Susie has been married to John for 32 years and they have 3 adult children.
Image courtesy of mack2happy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net