Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 27: Start Where You Are, Not Where You Want to End.

Your starting point is wherever you are right now.
For the last many months, I’ve been working on a book, a memoir documenting our last several years. I’ve told less than a handful of people. The reasons for that have been myriad (it sounds presumptuous, I don’t have an agent, much less a book deal, I’m not an author by trade, etc.…), but I’ve decided its time to get out of my own way.

Sometimes you just have to start where you are, not where you want to be.
There were several stumbling blocks,most of them self-created, that I had to crawl over before I could begin the real work.

1. My writing time was (and is) limited. My material, the very people I’m writing about, are to thank for this. They are all early risers (like 6 AM, if not before) so no matter how early I creep out of bed, they spring up too. I’ve tried writing from Panera (and learned the hard way it doesn’t open until 6!) and Starbucks. I’ve also tried shooing my people from the house. Writing in these dribbles and droves feels fragmented and disjointed; each time I start, I have to stop. But, for now, I can either not write or I can choose to write around it. I choose the latter.

2. My voice got stifled.  For months, I wrote and wrote, only to delete and delete some more. Everything I wrote was stilted and awkward. The culprit? The voices in my head. They asked me: “Who exactly do you think you are?” “No one wants to hear you blather on about how long your adoption waits were!” “You can’t walk a straight line, much less write one. You know that, right?” “Girl, do you even know how to use a comma?” (This last line being delivered with a twang, for reasons unknown.)

Because I was listening to these voices, my voice got drowned out. Only when I silenced the voices could I hear what wanted to be said. This, I’ve discovered, is not a one-time process; I’m still silencing my inner naysayers so that I can listen.

3. My self-awareness was shoddy. Given that I’m writing about my own life, you’d think I’d have a little insight into it. As it turns out, that wasn’t necessarily the case. I’d write about some event only to get hung up describing it. At first I thought the muddling was the result of poor form or limited style. Later, I realized that I was unable to fully describe something when I was murky on my motivation or intentions. I grasped the actus reus (physical act) but was eluded by the mens rea (mental intent). Writing, like the law, requires both. Consequently, I got to spend some particularly painful time in self-reflection.

My Nana called her writings her “chicken scratches.” Jo March referred to hers as “scribblings.” Will my scribblings ever see the light of day? Only time will tell.

Regardless, I’m glad I got out of my own way.

May I, ever so gently, remind you that your starting point is wherever you are right now.

Go forth and conqueror!


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