A few mornings ago, as my eyelids opened and my brain came online, the usual thoughts rushed in. What do I have to do today? What didn’t get done yesterday? What if I’m late? Another day begun with worrying and rushing.
My friend wakes up and says thank you for another chance to see the moon, the sunshine, the trees outside her window. So I decided to steer my mind toward all the good things in my life, all the beautiful people who have entered my radius, all the promising events that are percolating. My life began to feel blessed.
It was 5 a.m. and I wanted to cradle back to sleep, but then I thought about my book and how I had just finished a detailed outline. After 6 months of researching, fact-checking, and planning, I had rewritten every scene in subject-verb-object phrases:
Waves clobber me…
I unearth letters…
We leave Puglia…
Pages and pages, years and years, of these 3-word sentences make up the rows of my Scrivener manuscript.
I unclasped the embrace of my blankets, and touched my feet to the floorboards. I could see now the book was my church. The rows of the outline were my pews. It was time to pray.
I used to think writing a book was akin to achieving a scientific discovery or mastering a work of art. Brilliant, talented, and intense I’d need to be. But as hard as I tried, I never quite believed I could do it.
Now when I get up and stumble to my laptop in my robe, barefoot and almost blind in the dark, I don’t put on my scientist goggles or my artist’s beret. I have no idea what I’m doing, but this doesn’t scare me anymore.
Maybe it’s the outline that contains me, or maybe it’s because I’ve learned to ask for help rather than to try to figure it all out. I sit in a different pew each day, and ask, “What needs to be expressed through me today? Please show me.” Slowly and quietly, as I wait for guidance, the book is being written.
Writing becomes a meditation that calls me morning after morning. I love the atmosphere of my book — the stained glass and the dark corners, the stone arches and the wooden pews — but I also go for the silence. And the chance to be alone with myself, following my story and the mysteries it may reveal.
Note: I'm on a summer publishing schedule, so you'll hear from me a little less frequently -- twice a month instead of every week. :-)