I told FirstHusband I wasn’t ready for him to read it because I wasn’t ready for negative feedback.
Took two days to build up the courage.
He had some excellent constructive criticism. Nothing to edit or delete. But he did make some strong arguments for needing to add an intro and a conclusion to the intro. Thankfully, the arguments came with some good ideas.
I met with my writing mentor a just a few months after I began writing my book. She took a few minutes to go over my outline and her first comment was:
“I see more than one book here.”
She said I was trying to stuff everything I wanted to say in one book and it was just too much.
So I spent a few weeks restructuring my single existing book outline into four new outlines – and a few months moving content from my one existing word processing document into an appropriate location within four new documents. At that point, I had the beginnings of four books:
A book on Christian living,
a book on spiritual growth,
a book on Christian relationships
a book on Christian parenting. (a few months ago, also I outlined a book on Christian conflict resolution)
Sounds so impressive, huh?
More like overwhelming. daunting.
So, I spent the next year or so (off and on – life gets intrusive) writing the book on Christian living. A few months into the process, I got bogged down in the content, took a giant step back and started a new document, making massive changes to the organization. I began copying the content from the old document into the new, with a totally new approach.
I continued writing and worked on the Christian living book for months and at this point, I’m more than halfway finished with it.
But in December, I hit a wall.
(And it was early December, nearly a month before my mother’s death, so I didn’t see a connection – maybe God was preparing me, but at that time, I didn’t see it)
Everything I wrote, I either deleted or set aside in a supplemental document named “notes.” More often than not, I didn’t write anything at all, but instead, sat with my fingers hovering over the home keys, staring blankly at the computer screen. After a few frustrating weeks of unproductive effort, I stopped writing altogether.
No idea was good. I was paralyzed. stuck. the dreaded writer’s block.
Then, last week, saturated in the awareness of impending life changes on multiple fronts, I spent some time staring blankly out the window instead of at the computer screen. I prayed a little and listened a LOT, begging God to direct me.
Let me just say right now: “Be careful what you pray for.”
fer cyrin out loud. no wonder.
I’ve been writing the wrong book.
I need to be working on the spiritual growth book first. By writing the book on Christian living, I was putting the cart before the horse. Without a reason for Christian living, what’s the point? There was no foundation. No motivation.
“Christian living” is empty and meaningless on its own.
So I’ve put the Christian living book away. Haven’t opened it in weeks. Yesterday, I finished the draft of the introduction to the spiritual growth book.
I figure if Panera didn’t want me to monopolize booth #1, they shouldn’t have put a power outlet under my feet.
10:39am – At Panera Bread, trying to write instead of at home trying not to fall asleep or clean something. I’m supposed to be working on my book, but it seems that lyrics are sneaking out instead. We’ll see. I’ve got time to do both – PinkGirl has a 12 hour theater day.
11:39am – Crudola. Power supply at home. Battery has 2 hours and 40 minutes. Gonna try and bribe FavoritSon to bring it to me later. seriously. that’s not going to happen.
12:39pm – I’m attempting to bribe FavoriteSon with free Panera lunch. He and his dad think it’s “girl food” but I think he’ll do it anyway. The question is whether he’ll make it before my battery dies. 1 hour 42 minutes.
1:39pm – My son loves me. He just brought my laptop power supply to me at Panera Bread so I didn’t have to stop writing. And I didn’t even have to buy him lunch.
I glanced at the back and the first bulleted description read:
“Conquer the Killer Ps – Perfectionism, Paralysis and Procrastination”
I put the book in my basket immediately.
I couldn’t wait to get home. I’m anxious for the cure, the quick fix this book is sure to provide. (What? My expectations are too high? Unrealistic?) The boys are at a track meet somewhere about an hour and a half away, PinkGirl is singing in the shower at the top of her lungs and I cop a squat (I have such a way with words, it’s hard to believe I’m having trouble writing) on the back porch with my new book and a cup of coffee. Will I identify with this author? Can he help me? Let’s see:
“For some reason, everyone thinks, ‘I should know how to write.’ No one thinks, ‘I should know how to play the piano.’ But when it comes to writing, ‘I should know how to do it.’
What if I told you a story about a man who buys a piano, sits down to play for the very first time and is shocked when he doesn’t sound like Arthur Rubinstein?
‘I don’t understand,’ he complains, ‘I’ve listened to lots of music, I should know how to play the piano.’
Ridiculous you say? Yet there you are: Banging away at the typewriter, you’re mortified when your work isn’t as good as Ernest Hemingway’s. Hell, it isn’t even as good as Ernest Goes to Camp.”
that was unexpected. I actually laughed out loud.
Not as good as Ernest Goes to Camp. yes, I do believe I can identify with this author.
I’m also having lunch with my friend – a professional writer – tomorrow so I can beg her to cure my paralysis for some insight and advice.
Me: I’m looking at my blog differently these days. I’m looking at it like writing instead of blogging.
FirstHusband: I thought that’s why you started to blog in the first place.
Me: Maybe. But then I got caught up with stats and comments and wanting people to like me.
Me: You know, this whole Easter Bunny Cake thing is a lesson. Nearly 1600 views in the last 30 days, and almost 900 of them in the last seven days. And look at my comments this last week. I hear crickets. Blog stats are meaningless gauges of success. I do need to go back to writing for me. I need to write about what I want, instead of what I think other people might want. I don’t know what other people want.
So, starting yesterday, I’m going back to writing for me. And I’m going to try my hardest not to care whether you like it or not.
Life goes by FAST. I’m so busy living it, I forget how fast. If I’m not careful, I can spend so much time trying to check things off my computerized (and nagging internal) to do list that I can arrive at the end of the day without having even one non-task related thought. For me,
Journaling slows things down. When I write, I think. I need to think. About things other than deadlines, carpool, permission slips, doctor appointments, haircuts, cats with diarrhea, groceries, vacuuming . . . there goes that internal to do list again. I need to reflect and I can’t see my reflection in the swimming pool if I’m always scooping leaves off the surface. Journaling is a float and a cool drink. The leaves can wait for ten freaking minutes.
Journaling reminds me of the past. Recorded data points help me make conscious, intentional (and, hopefully, better) choices today. I can avoid repeats of negative situations if I can remember what got me into a mess in the first place. When I write about a successful outcome, sometimes I can identify what I did and do it again. I can learn from both my losses and my wins. But only if I remember them.
Journaling captures memories. When my son or daughter (or husband, or friend, or parent or sibling) says something funny or profound, I think I’ll always remember it. Yeahhhh. No. When I jot it down, not only do I always remember it, but my children can as well. Some of my journal entries are a simple quote, with a date. Reading that one little sentence, the memory floods back. And when I read it, I’m so thankful I took the time. Such a simple thing, such a priceless reward.
Journaling helps me figure out my goals. When I journal, I can’t help but think about what is important to me. I can start an entry blabbering about all the stuff I have to do and how stressed I am and by the time I’m finished I realize which of those things are counter-productive to the life I really want to live. It becomes glaringly obvious which items on my plate I should never have cooked up in the first place. It’s also a reminder to to hold my hand over the plate and say “No, thank you.” the next time someone else wants to dish out some more. It reminds me to yank the plate away and say, “I said, no.” when someone tries to put stuff on my plate anyway.
Journaling is more convenient and much less expensive than therapy. I can journal anytime I want, not just on a Tuesday morning at 10:00 (or whatever time my weekly appointment would be.) If something (or someone) triggers anger or melancholy or any other reaction commonly addressed during therapy, I can write about it, and discover as the words land on paper, something I hadn’t considered before – either about me or another person or a situation. Journaling leads me to understanding, calmness, tolerance, choices. So much more.
I’m sure journaling has countless benefits in addition to the ones I’ve mentioned here, probably many I’ve never even considered. But these few are enough motivation for me to stop.
In the middle of the rushing forward, I have the power to stop time. So do you.