OK, so you know how I wrote a book? Well, I just got a look at the cover! (Actually, two potential covers they are still tweaking, so nothing to show you…YET.)
I had a feeling I would cry when I saw the cover. That feeling was right. As soon as I opened the PDF, I felt overwhelmed and did the muffled silent cry at my desk so the other people in my office wouldn’t hear me.
The tears were happy and grateful, but they were also a response to something else.
I’ve been feeling weird about my book lately. The process of writing it and showing it to others hasn’t exactly been the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It might be the opposite of that, leaning closer to one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
That’s to be expected of any big project. Still, we never know what we’re getting ourselves into when we get into things, do we?
My editor sent me his final edits last week. I looked through them right away and told myself I would start working on them tomorrow. Tomorrow came and went and I hadn’t cracked open the manuscript.
“Ok, tomorrow for real this time,” I told myself at the end of day. The next day came and went and I still hadn’t cracked open the manuscript. This continued for several days until I finally sat down and got honest with myself about why I wasn’t working on my edits.
I realized I wasn’t simply procrastinating editing my book. I was avoiding my book altogether.
You see, over the last few months the work I had taken so much pride in had become work I was no longer sure about. I would even go so far as to say it had become work I wanted to hide. What I was so thrilled to tell you about back in February had somehow, somewhere over the course of the last five months, become something I was ashamed of.
Showing your work to others, no matter what your work is, is terrifying. I think it gets easier as you go along, but in the early stages, I don’t think it can be anything but terrifying. It feels like handing someone a dandelion and asking they keep it in tact.
“Don’t even breathe on it,” you say. Because the smallest breath could destroy it, could destroy you.
A few–and I stress a few because the support in my life from friends, family, my editor and publisher is incredible—a few people I’ve shown my work to these last months have not taken care to not breath on it. Some of them have even coughed on it, and one of them sneezed on it—a moment that led to a long cry sesh on my kitchen floor.
It’s not the amount of work or stress or editing that has made me feel done in with this book. It’s those words, from those people who have made me utter, more than once, “I cannot do this. I’m done.”
I wonder if you’ve ever uttered the same.
I think, at least I hope, all people who create—which is all of us, by the way—have moments when they feel they are at the complete mercy of what someone else will say. Or of what someone else will not say, as silence can be equally devastating.
What I’ve found is that it’s in those moments we are presented with a choice. We can either believe that we indeed can’t do this, or shouldn’t do this, or weren’t after all made to do this as we had thought we were.
Or, we can carry on our creative way.
The critics are still there, but you slide the blinders on as best you can and proceed on the path you’ve set out upon, deciding that other people don’t get to determine where you will go.
When I think about it, it’s a pretty brilliant ploy of the enemy to want us to feel shame over our most important projects. To convince us that what we thought we needed to say, we should lock up away for good. And in hindsight, I shouldn’t have been so surprised when I received less than glowing responses from others, and I watched my dandelion scatter about as I entertained the idea of quitting. I should have expected it because what I was doing was important for me to do.
What are you doing that you know is important for you to do? Or I can ask it this way: What recently brought you to your knees in a snotty mess on your kitchen floor?
When I opened that email today from my editor with my book cover, I had moments before finally cracked open the manuscript and begun working through it. I had gritted my teeth and decided to carry on my creative way.
Seeing the cover for English Lessons reminded me that parts of my story are worth sharing, no matter what somebody else says.
Whatever you feel “done” with today, consider this your encouragement to keep going. The thing, the piece, the song, the talk you feel ashamed of, that stuff deserves to be seen and shared and told. The thing that’s important for you to do is important for you to do.
Carry on your creative way. I’ll be right there with you.