Just DO IT.
As you may know I’ve been writing my memoir for the past two years. I finished version one titled “Thoughts.Stories.Life.” Somewhat based on this blog, over a year ago. My agent pitched it to all the top publishing houses and the general consensus from editors was… it sucked. I was not a writer and it showed. Then I rewrote it again and this time called it “One Third Crazy” which we pitched again last year, with pretty much the same response.
Then I closed my Word document and refused to open it for about nine months. I just couldn’t start it from scratch again, not because I didn’t believe in the story but because I got so lost in this notion, true or not, that I am not really a writer. I’m just a chick masquerading as a writer. I mean I never set out to be one in the first place, it’s nothing I’ve ever said I’m particularly good at. But it is something that found me, and has in so many ways changed my life. So a few months ago I started all over again on what essentially is my third writing of my memoir, and slowly I think I’m learning how to write it, and let the story come out of me instead of worrying about if I am, or am not a writer.
But the process is so isolating. So much of it is just you and the page and fear. The fear of telling the whole story, the fear of not. The trepidation of exposing stories of the people you love who play major parts in your life and how they will react. Writing a memoir has got to be one of the most difficult things to do, mainly for those reasons. You are constantly trying to fight through and past that fear.
In the midst of my crisis on weather I should give up or keep going, three very significant things recently happened.
1. A few weeks ago I went to lunch with one of my favorite clients who asked me if my book had been published (I had last seen him when TSL was being shopped to publishers). I began with my list of reasons as to why it is not yet available for purchase in the airport, and he stopped me and said: “Sarah, I’m not fucking having lunch with you again until your book is finished. Just finish it. Get out of your head about, if it’s right or wrong, and just finish it.” It’s hard to argue with that logic and so I didn’t. Instead I made a promise to him with a deadline of two months out and boldly said I’d have a manuscript to him by Thanksgiving. That day after lunch I wrote a brand new Chapter One, and have written 20 chapters since nearly 2/3 finished with what I pray will be my final version of my memoir. His words were the exact push I needed.
2. Last week an ex of mine said “You know Sarah, you’d be so much more productive if you just focused on work. If you could just forget about this book and blog thing and all the other things you’re doing, you’d make so much more money and be more successful if you put all of that energy into work instead.” I looked at him and realized A. This is why you are an “Ex“. B. I would rather die then live that kind of life. All that other stuff, is what drives my passion and makes my life have purpose and meaning (above and beyond being a mother obviously). All I could think was, “one day I’ll show you.”
3. Tonight I just got home from a book reading/signing with Cheryl Strayed author of the New York Times Bestseller “Wild” which I just finished and loved. I sat in total awe, on the edge of my seat and in virtual tears through every second of that reading, because for the first time in my life I saw what the output of my dream looks like. I mean I’ve imagined it so many times but I’ve never read a book, and then gone to a book tour event, the very kind I envision myself doing one day. I got goosebumps when she talked about getting the call from Oprah, a moment I’ve dreamed of for most of my adult life. I pictured myself sitting in that chair talking about my book, I wanted to cry. It was the exact dose of inspiration and motivation I so desperately needed. It made me see that other people have gone through this process and had these same self doubts and come out on the other side. It made me know without a doubt that one day that will be me.
|My signed copies of “Wild” and “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie“|
|Ayana Mathis and Cheryl Strayed at Wordstock|
If you have a dream, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not worth achieving. Listen to the few that tell you to just fucking do it. And tune out the rest who say that being a dreamer makes you a fool. Then make sure you put yourself in the moments you imagine living out, and remember that when we are closest to our dream coming true that is the point when the majority of people quit. Don’t quit.