Living inside me for as long as I can remember, is a book. I have always known it was there, or, perhaps, I came to believe it was there because I was never told any different. During all the hours spent telling stories around my mother’s dining room table, in every exaggerated tale I recounted for my friends, in every blog post I write… there has always been this sense that the rest of the story was tucked somewhere inside me - too young, too fragile - to make its way out. I can’t count how many times someone has said to me, through laughter or tears (and oftentimes both), that I need to write a book.
And they’re right. I need to write this book.
Because it’s always been there, and I can’t carry it around any more.
Back in November, a friend of mine decided to submit some of my writing (without my knowledge) to an acquisitions editor at a reputable publishing company. I was terrified and unprepared for the feeling of vulnerability that came with her telling me that she did this, but I could hardly be mad at a girl for believing in me. Especially since, after reading the pieces she submitted, they asked to come to see me speak at a small event in Michigan and then that led to the longest lunch meeting known to man. Our three hour lunch led to a notoriously heavy and daunting door, which opened to me, ever so slightly. The door was cracked just enough for a little light and hope to come through, along with the whisper of an invitation. That glimmer of an invitation was for me to submit a book proposal.
Do you want to know what happens to the book that has always been inside of you when someone invites you to finally attempt to write it?
You know what else happens?
Yes, the book that has always been there, vanishes. But it doesn't just disappear. Oh no... it disappears and then you also have an existential crisis. And you begin to wonder if it was ever really there to begin with. And you question your own truth and your ability to share it, and you question everything you thought you were so sure about. And you panic, and maybe you start to write a fiction manuscript, because you have completely lost your head at this point. And then you stop letting yourself be afraid to learn from the people who have gone before you - even if you think they got it wrong - and you stop feeling so alone, and so afraid. And you start to find your book again.
At least… that’s what I hear happens to people.
This process has taught me how much fear - thick and pernicious - runs through my bones. Fear that what I have to say won’t matter. Fear that I have no right to say anything at all. Fear that all this fear will hinder the quality, and reach, of my message. Fear that I don’t even have a message, at least not one that is unique or meaningful. Fear that I will get it wrong. Fear that I will get it right (and then people will think I actually know things!) Fear that this will take more away from my family than it gives. Fear that the door will close as quickly as it has barely cracked. Fear that I will be embarrassed when my book proposal is rejected (they almost always are - many, many, many times.) Fear that I will quit before I even get a chance to be rejected. Fear that I won’t ever quit and I will just keep forcing something that isn’t supposed to be. Fear that I will actually care about publishing and writing won’t feel pure anymore, that the pursuit will ruin my honesty, my integrity as a writer. Fear that I won’t care enough about getting published and so it will never happen. Fear that everyone will finally know that I am a phony, and will confirm to me that I am, in fact, the worst possible perception I have of myself.
So. Much. Fear.
And gosh, so much ego it’s sickening.
So, I am all done processing this privately. It’s just not in my DNA to be scared all by myself. What makes me audacious is that I can’t keep my big mouth shut for more than a minute. What makes me relatable is that I will tell the beautiful, harsh and sometimes ugly truth about my life. What makes you come back is that I can sometimes be brave. Telling you all about what I fear most makes me feel really vulnerable, but that is also where I feel most brave.
So as much as I would like to curl up inside my fear, and hunker down for good... I won’t, because that would keep me small. That would keep my truth, my GOD, so small. And so, as much as I fear you all discovering that I am a total fraud, I will risk rejection and I will walk into this thing exposed and vulnerable and maybe sometimes even a little bit brave. I will let my stories, my truth, my God, be bigger than my fear. I will invite Him to show up in ways that are so much bigger than my fragile ego, and my concern for how the world will perceive who I am or what I do.
And I will invite you all into the process too. Because when you have a book inside you for 35 stinkin' years, it simply must get written eventually, even if it’s no good. And you, my beloved readers, are the ones I want with me as I go. Writing for you has made me feel brave. Finally brave enough to let that - too young, too fragile - story inside me, grow big enough and sturdy enough to come out.