I am sitting here at 4 in the morning with a copy of Transfigured Faith on either side of me. These are the copies that friends have read, written on, and given back. Both friends’ comments have challenged me. One of my friends suggested some major restructuring: organize thematically instead of chronologically. Remember when I tried that back in March? It didn’t work. When I first read that suggestion, my heart sank.
Because I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to be done with this thing, to send it out into the world, and to write something else. I don’t want to work on it anymore.
But the truth is, it’s not done with me yet. This piece of writing has worked on me as much as I’ve worked on it. When you sit down to narrate your life, everything changes. Something that was one shape now morphs into another. An experience that made you feel one way when you were a teenager now makes you feel something different. Suddenly you’re confused: Who’s the narrator? Am I writing this life, or is it writing me?
This writing changed me.
And evidently, it’s not done helping me grow.
So. I’ve reorganized my manuscript thematically. It worked this time. I’ve created a completely new document in Scrivener, and my chapters are now grouped around similar themes. Worship. Marriage. Salvation. Loss. In fact, I even wrote an entirely new chapter the other day on food, feasting, and fasting. Preview: Velveeta. Dumplings. Cornbread. Somtam. Sticky Rice. My mother. Maids. Grandparents. Making communion bread (that was a fiasco!). The Paschal feast. Anyway, this will take a little bit of re-writing to connect all the pieces. And there are still sections that need revision no matter what chapter they’re in.
I feel better. But I still feel daunted. I mean, I’m 35. If I’m gonna be a writer, I’ve gotta get a book out there!! Now!! Or so I feel. And I’ve worked on this thing for so long (I know, reader, I know you’re tired of hearing about it.) and I’ve thought I’m so close to done so many times, and now I’m still not done.
I’ve found some encouragement in a blogger I’ve discovered, though. Her name’s Esther Emery. She lives in a yurt. Sorry, I find that so fascinating it’s like almost part of her name now. Esther-Emery-Who-Lives-In-A-Yurt. (By the way, when I found her blog, I told Steven I wanted to sell our house and get a yurt. Sadly, he said no.) Anyway. Esther is fascinating in other ways, too. She recently wrote this post: When You Still Don’t Have a Literary Agent, Do It Anyway, in which she talked about her struggles with finding an agent and publisher for her book. And do you know what she said?
Maybe you’re in this situation, too. Maybe you’re the writer with no agent. If you are, my friends, I’ve got some words.
Don’t wait for a literary agent to give you permission to speak your mind.
Don’t wait for a book contract to give you an excuse to hire a babysitter.
Don’t wait for fame to give you the responsibility to do great things.
Wow, right? THEN she wrote a little fantabulous e-book that she is giving away FREE and I’m a sucker for a free book, so I downloaded it. Oh, it is beautiful. Right away I sent the link to two of my creative friends so they could download it also. It’s a book about creativity and courage and your voice. It’s about time and fear and jealousy and hope. Unleash Your Wild has been such an encouragement to me.
There are so many great quotes I could share from this book, but I’ll limit it to these two:
“This is a great work. A long-term work. You will be doing this very work, the day you die.”
“There is room for you. Even for your wild, undomesticated self. Choose faith instead of fear. Walk slowly, back, into your own skin. You’ll find it fits you. When you get there the table will be set and the wine glass full. Welcome home.”
So. Here I sit, engulfed in this long-term work. Here I sit, trying to walk back into my own skin. Here I sit, my early morning writing hour almost done now, a manuscript that’s still undone, an upstairs full of sleeping people whom I love, and my heart is full and my eyes are wet.
This is my work. No matter how long it takes. I won’t give up.