Blossoming, Doubting, and Writing a Book

I announced last month on my facebook page that I am self-publishing an e-book this year, to be released on October 13th 2015.

Since then, I discovered a service called “Print on Demand” which means I can also publish a paperback version of the book that will be available on Amazon. So my writing will be available both on the Kindle and as a real papery book this fall, with pages and margins and all. Wow.

I announce my writing goals on social media like this to keep myself accountable, although the strategy rarely works for me. I announced that I was going to teach a storytelling and empowerment workshop that I never taught…last summer I declared that I was writing a book proposal, but I never finished it… then I hunkered down in New Mexico to write a book about writing, except I haven’t worked on it since…

But here I am, gung-ho and committed. I want to finish this book, I want to self-publish it, I want to release it on October 13 because it’s the anniversary of a friend’s suicide and I want to reclaim that date. I want to transform that date into a glowing literary Tuesday, a joyful birthday for my first book that I will celebrate for years to come, a nod to the past but a colorful leap into the future. My very own October 13th where I will laugh and support others and smile at the angels and be transformed.

Writing a book has been a strange experience. Blogging fits well with my impatience and short attention span, my desire to change lives instantaneously, but book writing is more of a slow grind. When I spend too much time thinking about this book I’m writing, a jostling string of doubts rolls through my mind:

I’m not literary enough. My sentences are plastic and obvious, they are broad lukewarm self-help oatmeal that everyone knows and will roll their eyes at.

My friends and family will pat me on the head and say it’s great, like I’m a sea lion getting her little fish at the end of a pitiful trick. Their copies of the book will end up in junk drawers. Everyone else will think I’m a sugary narcissist.

I need to finish the first draft soon so I can find an impeccable editor. Anything I write this quickly is bound to be garbage. What am I even doing.

I would never say these things to another person (“Hi, I’m Kelsey, that’s awesome you’re writing a book, it’ll be a bummer when it ends up in your little sister’s junk drawer.”) And I would never look into a mirror and say these things to myself – I know they aren’t the affirmations I want. But the doubts still rattle around in the background of my mind.

Any time we have a big dream, or even a little nascent dream that is beyond the realm of anything we have done before, these types of fears surface. We want to crack through the status quo, but we start thinking about other people’s opinions and we question whether we are truly capable of pulling it off.

Anyone who tells you that they have emerged on the other side, that they never doubt themselves anymore, is either lying or living a life entirely within their comfort zone. For every cheery story that ends with someone dripping in self-love, there are a hundred little gritty repressions within that same life, a hundred daily events and details that don’t match the cozy narrative.

We are all still unfolding. We all still need to hear each other’s living breathing stories of overcoming doubt, of breaking through, of shining and doubting God and embracing Life and becoming more Ourselves, forever and ever.

This is why I love reading Anne Lamott and I love my friend Jillie’s blog – they are strong and profound women who write about how they, like all of us, are trying to figure it out as they go.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that this book doesn’t have to be a giant magnum opus. That it doesn’t have to be perfect, that I am allowed to write more books after this one, that it is okay to learn and blossom jarringly, every day, as we always do – in writing, in friendships, and in life.

“The book you write will be the book you write,” my mom reassured me a few weeks ago, and she is right. My book will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it will be some people’s cup of tea – and that, in my blissful peaceful how-did-I-get-so-lucky moments, is enough.

Peace and Persistence,

Kelsey

We don't have to please everyone in our writing, and it's okay to doubt ourselves along the way.

We don’t have to please everyone in our writing, and it’s okay to doubt ourselves along the way.

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5 thoughts on “Blossoming, Doubting, and Writing a Book

  1. Pingback: When Fear Goes Into Hiding | Kelsey Horton

  2. I also struggle with the desire to make my debut as close to perfect as possible. I definitely think I have it in me to write a good book… just not necessarily the book I want to have written, which is really hard to accept.

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