What would you do if it you weren't afraid? — Sheryl Sandberg
For a moment, stop thinking.
Take a few deep breaths.
Remember the thrill of words flowing through your fingers.
Do you have it? The idea is there and you write the first sentence. The first sentence dances into the first paragraph. Soon, you've crossed the 1500 word mark.
Next, five chapters.
You're glowing. Waking up early and going to bed late because the story is moving and breathing and creating an energy that pushes you to greater heights and deeper connections. You haven't said anything to anyone about writing. It's your secret and you love it that way. It's the best kind of love affair.
I have a lion inside me and I have to feed it words every few days; when I don't, it begins to eat me instead. - Sophy Burnham
What would you say if I told you the story burning inside your bones is the story others desperately need to hear?
I used to think my words were useless. I believed no one read them, no one cared, no one remembered.
Then I started writing EVERY SHATTERED THING and I slowly stopped caring about what others were thinking. I only wanted to finish this story that captured me so completely. The feeling I experienced when they words came, day after day, was unlike anything I'd ever known. I felt alive — awake — pulsing with inspiration and purpose.
And then the words stopped.
Part of it was because life took over and I couldn't spend emotional energy on fictional characters as well as my own real-life-betrayals. Part of it was because suddenly I was looking outside of the story. I bought Writer's Market and began researching agents to send the manuscript. I made notes in margins and bought a publishing planner at Barnes & Noble.
I wasn't writing for just me anymore. Most importantly: I wasn't writing for the story. There were a whole crowd of voices taking over my process — and most of them didn't even know.
...the work is so large that we may be tempted to despair or abandon our part, but humility reminds us to honor our gifts and limits. We are called to be proactive and to bring our whole hearts to the task, trusting that a greater source than ourselves weaves those tasks together — Christine Paintner
This pattern wasn't new to me.
A few years before I wrote the first draft of EVERY SHATTERED THING, I took a writing class through Abydos Learning. It was a certification in writing instruction, backed by psychology and research and hands-on practice.
We had to write two pieces: personal narrative and expository.
We wrote them, and then we pitched them.
The writing process proved ethereal. I wrote pieces I never imagined I'd be able to capture. It was my first taste in completing a writing project. I was hooked and desperately wanted to share these words I'd spent weeks hoarding through haphazard teasers in critique groups and editing partnerships.
I emailed. Sent hard copies. Made cold calls.
Rejection after rejection after rejection.
The doubts came quick. I stopped writing, assuming that I was better at teaching, anyway. No one wanted my words.
There's no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you — Maya Angelou
A year after writing the article on legacy and summers spent with my Grandpa Joe, Idaho Magazine published the story as a feature.
It was my first experience with publishing and the moment I considered that there just may be a book waiting for me inside.
It was also the moment I realized the dissonance felt when you refuse the words time and space to breathe on the page.
Answer this question: if you could sit down today and begin your book, what would you write?
I asked this on Twitter last night.
A friend replied he thinks he knows, but that it may be a beast that eats him alive.
I think he's right.
Write what you want. Write for you — for the story that's captured you for months, years even. Don't let the pauses or the doubt or the fear or the rejection grow louder than the book in your bones.
Publishing will come later.
Reviews don't matter now.
Those words pulsing inside? The ones that feel as if they may eat you alive?
They're meant to be on the page.
Need more inspiration? Introducing Hustle & Flow: a weekly letter with artistic visioning for the everyday creative. I would love it if you signed up, and I won't ever spam you. Promise.
You'll get hints and anecdotes about getting unstuck and living your most artistic life within the midst of your every day poetics. AND, if you sign up during October, you'll get some special extras dealing with indie-publishing, including a PDF with the publishing calendar process I take myself through every time I write a book.