It’s so hard to write.
It used to be easy. I used to post blogs all the time. I posted when I was on the World Race, I posted when I was walking the Camino de Santiago, I posted a bunch in between. I could blog and journal and email and everything.
This year, I lost momentum and stopped wanting to write all the time, but unfortunately, I have this domain name with the word “writer” in it so now I have to keep being a writer. And unfortunately, I’m stuck with the project I began in the throes of those thrilling times: a book.
I decided to write a book. A whole book. A book which is 286 pages with 34 black-and-white images and a matte-finish, six by nine inch paperback cover with a photo of me on the back.
What was I thinking. I’ve been writing the book for well over two and a half years now.
For the first year or so, writing a book was awesome. My brain was buzzy. I went to coffee shops and teared up, thinking of the grandness of my endeavor. I started working at a coffee shop, because I wasn’t going to let a career stop me from my passion. Anything to let me focus on writing.
I’m still working at the coffee shop, and I’m still working on the book. Since the beginning of this year, the manuscript has been in the hands of editors and designers, with whom I have waged email battles requesting this change, waiting on that reply, correcting some correction, sending back final proof after final proof for more corrections. I’ve paid for it with lots of money and lots of time. I’ve struggled with where to take control of the project and where to relinquish it.
I used to say that writing a book was like falling in love. Now I say it’s like a kidney stone or an overdue baby: it’s bound to come out but it will be brutal.
People still ask how it is going: they haven’t forgotten I’m doing this. That’s been the refrain since I started it, and before, even (“You should write a book! What would you write about? How would it go?”). They haven’t given up or forgotten about the book even though it’s taken so long. For this refrain, I am grateful.
I used to answer, “The book is awesome! I’m excited about it!” Now, I can tell everyone that it should be published very soon–though I don’t know whether a book is published when it has a copyright, or is printed, or is sold the first time–and they tell me they are excited for me. I am grateful that people are excited for me because I’m not excited for myself.
All I can think about is kidney stones. My friends focus on the fact that I’m about to be a published author and I’m focusing on how in what I was told was the final version, the headers on the odd-numbered pages were in the wrong font, so I have to wait for a new version.
Or how I’ve been reading reviews for the printing service I’m using and everyone seems to hate it so I feel like an idiot but that’s what the editor recommended and I have too much on my plate to sleuth around much.
Or how I uploaded the file to the printing company’s website, but the page count was wrong so the file displayed improperly and it took two conversations with customer service that were so unhelpful they felt like deleted Office Space scenes to learn that I should have uploaded the file differently, so I uploaded it differently and paid the $25 fee but it still was wrong and then I learned that was because the file was sent to me in the wrong format in the first place.
It’s like playing whack-a-mole. Every day, I think the coast is clear, and I only need to autograph copies and get rich. Every day, something gets in the way and I have to fix it by complaining to someone or paying for something.
I have other stuff to say about the book–I should call it by its name, I should call it Leave It All: The Journal of a Maybe Missionary–I should market it instead of complain about it–I should enlighten you about the more illuminating parts of turning oneself into an author–but this frazzled frustration has been the primary mood in the last 11 months of the process, and I want to take a moment to acknowledge it. It’s infuriating, but it is part of it.
As I near the moment I’ll hold my book in my hands the first time, I catch moments of joy. I caught one when I paid the last invoice to my editor, when I registered the copyright, when I saw yet another final pdf of the manuscript and breathed, Yes, this is how it should be. When I set the release date tentatively on my birthday next month, my breath caught ever so slightly and I glimpsed the grandness that I was so sure of when I started in March of 2017.
So I do, I suppose, somewhere deep in my guts, yearn to bless the world with my writing and reach people and connect with people and spark conversation and inspire boldness. I do take joy in the reality that I have been working for years to make a thing, and it’s almost done.
But the feeling on the surface, the feeling I’m fighting most days, the feeling I’m paying homage to here, is that blind fury at all the things that have gone wrong, the way writing a book has temporarily blunted my ability to write anything, and the maddening, desperate need to get this thing out.