I’ve been writing on a regular basis since I was twelve years old. In all my years of school, studying as an English major, writing vocationally, I never met a writing project that beat me…until I had to turn in the first draft of my book.
I was supposed to turn in 40,000 words. At the end of a few months I had arrived at a meager 27,000, and that felt like someone had squeezed the words out of my veins. I clicked send and emailed the draft to my editor. My husband walked in and smiled.
“You finished your book! Let’s go celebrate. We can do anything you want.”
I disintegrated into a shoulder shaking, ugly cry. Turns out tears was the way I wanted to celebrate.
I shared this with friend, songwriter, and fellow author Candi Pearson Shelton and she told me:
“The difference between poems and songs is the pay off. You know how you feel when you know a poem is finished and you’ve done your best with it?”
“You’ll eventually feel that way about your book. It’s just gonna take a whole lot longer.”
We laughed. And I breathed a sigh of relief that maybe my tears didn’t mean I was a failure. Candi was right. By my third draft, some feedback from friends and writers I respected, plus edits and challenging questions from a great editor, I finally felt like writing a book hadn’t beaten me. I arrived at my word count and felt good about what I’d written.
I had to excavate my past, dig beneath my stories, get honest, and focus more on doing the best I could than comparing myself to anyone else. Breaking Old Rhythms is a result of several coffee house conversations, a few embarrassing moments, honest prayers, and a few stanzas of poetry weaved in.
Whether it’s writing a book, completing a degree, raising kids, starting a business, caring for a loved one, or just simply getting up out of bed and living every day to its fullest, don’t let it beat you. Keep showing up until you figure out its rhythm. Learn to dance with it, until it brings out the best in you.
Next blog: The Importance of the Book Proposal