The Magic. The Madness. (Or how I wrote this book.)
“I know what I have to do... but it’s utterly mad.”
Have you ever had one of those moments? Your instincts say go but you’ve trained your brain well to say wait a minute!
I mentioned earlier in the week that in my blog absence I’ve still had work going on underground. I was reaching my roots deep, searching for nourishment and refreshment. I was wintering. I was actually getting quite comfortable with the idea that maybe I wasn’t really a writer after all. I’d had three good years of serious work and it was time to move on. Was this still part of my path?
The question scared me, but I had to ask it. I ask a lot of questions that scare me. That’s what prompted me to write All Our Untold Stories: Empathic Poetry for Holy Week.
The story is that more than half of it was written last year during holy week. I was in the last week of teaching A Heart of Prayer: Book of Hours e-course, (Wow! I'm really into using subtitles, aren't I!) and I was struggling to stay focused and keep my questions conveniently stuffed down until a better time. When I realized that wasn’t working, I put my whole self into diving deep into the story of holy week and empathizing with the very normal, very human people who accompanied Jesus in his ministry. It turns out they had a lot of questions, too. It turns out we’re not so different.
I saved my poems in a document and put them away. I didn’t know if I would ever have the guts to publish something so raw and vulnerable.
Then I read Brene Brown. Then I read Elizabeth Gilbert. Then I read SARK. All women who speak about vulnerability as though it were a super power instead of a weakness.
I continued. I read Maria Kalman. I read Sandra Cisneros, whose book The House on Mango Street seemed to be written with deep, deep empathy. Then in February I began to read Clarissa Pinkola Estes. (I have been reading mostly books written by women lately, because their influence is so necessary, essential really, to my growth.) These women showed me vulnerability through storytelling, and awakened that desire in me.
About this same time I stumbled over my long-forgotten document of poems for holy week. After reading them, I knew in an instant that I needed to publish them this year. I also knew I did not really have time. The war between reason and intuition began, but quite frankly, the women I’ve been reading made me do it. They convinced me that intuition is meant to be a louder voice than we’re used to allowing.
Getting it done on time was utterly mad. So of course I plunged right into editing and filled in some spaces in the story I was telling. I had zero confidence and didn’t tell too many people. Intuition can tell you the right thing to do, but it doesn’t always give you the lion’s share of courage. It does propel you into forward motion, though. (In my case, slow and distracted-by-life forward motion. But still forward.)
In the end, I was about to give up. It was Saturday night and I hadn’t formatted it yet. This explains my late night and subsequent energy lag for several days. But I had just had a session with my business coach and she empowered me to think about my work in a healthy and meaningful light. Then, just around midnight, Josh helped me do the impossible: the book was published. Magic! Or madness. Both, I shouldn’t wonder.
What did I learn?
Well, for one, I guess I'm still a writer. Ha! And also this: that to listen to my intuition and amplify its voice is a gift not to be missed. And yes, it's scary. And yes, it's vulnerable and risky. And yes, it is good. My hope for you is that you will discover the same.
Thanks again for celebrating with me! If you want to see some quotes from All Our Untold Stories, and some meditations to go with them, head over to my Instagram feed. I’ve been posting a new one for each day of holy week. Enjoy!
Much love and happy Easter!