So. I finally finished another book and got it up on Amazon.
(Well, not really a book. More like a true, short holiday story for kids and adults. With pictures. On Kindle, I can get away with calling it a book.)
I wish I could tell you why I have procrastinated so long about at last writing “my stories,” as I call them. The closest I can come is to plead perfectionism. I was so afraid of choosing the wrong words, and arranging them the wrong way, that I was miserably stuck.
And now, I am pretty sure that the logjam is broken. I wouldn’t say it will never happen again. I’m not a fool. But I do think writing will be much easier for me now.
Here’s what did it:
I was talking to my friend, Jessica Bruder, who is a bonafide, published author (by a real publisher–no offense to self-published authors!) AND an adjunct professor at Columbia. She has a dimpled grin and a wicked glint in her eye. Her best friend is a Pulitzer Prize-winner, and they sometimes collaborate. Serious writing cred.
We met three years ago, just a few hundred yards from where I am now sitting in the desert, as she interviewed vandwellers for a magazine article. If you look hard, you can find my name in there somewhere.
Jess had just turned in the manuscript of her second book and finally had time for shop talk on the phone. Shop talk. With me. Can you tell how happy that makes me, that she respects me enough to treat me like a peer?
“I’m a slow writer,” she was saying, like there’s nothing wrong with that. Some writers are fast, some are slow. Simple.
I was thunderstruck. I think I asked her to repeat what she’d said and explain but frankly, I didn’t hear her answer.
Slow writer? There– there is such a thing? And it’s okay?
Like, maybe I could reframe my own torturous writing process as simply being SLOW? Not horribly stuck?
“But,” I told her, “I get stuck because I’m afraid I will choose the wrong words or say them the wrong way.”
“Think of it this way,” she said with the practiced wisdom of the writing teacher she is. “However you choose to say it will be the right way, because it will still be coming from you.”
She was right–I couldn’t deny it
So I reframed.
And lo and behold, I didn’t have to force myself off Facebook any more. Every day, I let myself enjoy it without my usual paralyzing guilt (which would just lead to spending all day reading/commenting/sharing). Then, after half an hour or so, I noticed what I was doing, turned FB off, and started writing. No forcing, no self-recrimination, no stuckness.
I’m a slow writer but I write. Eventually.
And that’s how I managed to finish revisions on The Red-Feather Christmas Tree and get it up on Amazon just barely in time for the Christmas season. (I wanted to launch it on Thanksgiving, so you can see that I did procrastinate but that was before Jess said those magic words to me.)
I am a slow writer.
I have more stories to get out there, but first I wanted to tell you that you don’t have to suffer the awful, painful self-hatred of resistance. If there is something you want very much to do but you don’t think you can?
Reframe it. You’re not stuck, you’re slow.
p.s. Check out my little holiday memoir, The Red-Feather Christmas Tree here.