Everyone should have a friend like Jack Barnard who can tell you “That’s bullshit.” when it is.
Jack’s my writing coach. And now for the second time in five years he’s called me out, pointed out, in his inimitable way that I am trying to play it safe, that I am fooling myself.
I had just given him my writing schedule for the upcoming week and committed to a minimum of fifteen hours of writing. We talked about how this is establishing a priority for my writing.
“But if I tell people I can’t do something because I’m writing, then they’ll ask what I’m writing. I don’t want to tell them I’m writing a book.
So, I’ll just say, ‘I’m writing.’”
That’s what provoked the “That’s bullshit!”
Actually, I’ve just looked again at my notes from our conversation. To be precise, Jack said, “That’s massive bullshit!”
Massive…that’s a whole heck of a lot of bullshit!
I knew immediately that was the truth. Truth with a capital “T” as he often says. It’s true that I’m scared to tell people I’m writing a book. Oh yes, me, the coach, who tells everyone else to go for it.
It sets up the possibility of all sorts of potential bad stuff…failure, for one. Failing to finish…failing to write a good book…failing to meet expectations…I could go on and on.
Why not just be quiet about it…then if it doesn’t happen no one need know? I can just be
“Sorry, Jane, I can’t see you today. I’m writing.”
“Oh, that’s interesting, Susanna. What are you writing?”
“Oh, nothing. I’m just writing.”
He wasn’t letting me get away with it…
“You have to claim it! When you do this you let the book know you’re committed. This is what has surfaced for you…what you are writing. This is your Self wanting a voice and you say, ‘I’m just writing? You are honoring your Self by writing this book! I want you to tell everyone you are writing a book!”
I know this! This is what I tell everyone I coach. If it comes up for you, honor it…listen, respect it! Particularly when you’ve asked for it, as I have! I have intentionally given myself time for introspection and then not to acknowledge what comes up!?
Instead, I’m playing it safe, staying in my comfort zone. Telling the world that I am doing this ups the ante considerably. Yikes.
But this is what heroines do, right? They leave the comfort zone or what we call “ordinary life” and they set out into the unknown. They leap right off the cliff (or walk the 300 steps to the top of the north tower at Chartres even though they’re afraid of heights!)….and they face their fear. And they trust that it’ll be OK because they are listening to their wise inner voice.
This is my leap. My leap is telling you…
I’m writing a book.
p.s. I wrote this post last night. This morning I read that the great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney’s, last words, minutes before he passed on, were “Noli timere.” Do not be afraid.