Hello, my name is Megan and I am writing a book.
Ack! I’ve said it. Now you know my closet secret.
Apparently, admission is the first step if healing and wholeness is your desired destination. At least, that’s what I hear.
So, if I’ve “dared greatly” and admitted my deep, dark secret to you with the ultimate destination of healing/wholeness/freedom in mind, why is my natural modus operandi to sabotage the very efforts that promise to lead me to personal transformation and breakthrough?
After much reflection, I think I may have discovered an answer.
My realization is this: I’m almost finished with the book (the very thing I desire) and it turns out, that is kind of a scary place to be.
Let me back up a bit… Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of how I got to this place:
1. Nearly four years ago I felt a stirring in my heart to possibly pursue adoption.
2. Weak-kneed and heart pounding, I shared this desire with Scott.
3. Together, Scott and I got on our knees to seek direction and discernment from the Lord.
4. God’s Spirit confirmed the call; we put one foot in front of the other and ended up bringing two beautiful children home from Ethiopia about 2.5 years ago.
5. Our children came home and, as expected, grief raged. I knew my kids would experience some level of trauma, but I did not realize I would experience some level of my own trauma as well. The Lord revealed that not only did my children need to experience His healing touch in the midst of their grief, but so did I.
6. I entered a time of deep soul-searching (to include counseling!) which led to uncovering some ugly, hidden places in my heart and ultimately to awesome spiritual breakthrough!
7. Writing became a very real part of the healing process. As such, my heart stirred again. This time, I sensed God’s invitation to share our testimony and the universal healing truths I learned along the way in the form of a book.
8. So, about 9 months ago, one word after another, I began to write. A book was conceived.
When I found out I was “pregnant” with the promise of a book, I felt simultaneously elated and terrified. I knew I wanted to honor God by sharing our story, but I didn’t feel the least bit qualified to classify myself as a “writer.” I mean, real writers have “platforms” and “tribes” and “products” and “publishers.” I have none of the above. So, what, pray tell, led me to think anyone would have any interest in what I have to say?
I wish I could tell you that nine months later I have vanquished that demon. I haven’t. The demon of fear, rejection and self-doubt still surfaces from time to time. He hangs out every now and again, but these days, when I notice him lurking, I banish him from my mental premises. I tell him he has no place occupying valuable mental energy and he’d better “get!”
Now, nine months later, I find myself on the cusp of finishing said book. And you know what I’ve discovered? The idea of finishing the project is almost more terrifying than starting it.
To start writing felt vulnerable because I wasn’t asked to do so by some agent or publisher. There was no natural confirmation of this call in the human realm. No, once again, only God’s Spirit breathed this into my heart. It’s kind of vulnerable to put yourself out there when no one’s actually asked you to do so.
However, once I conquered the initial lump in my throat and slowly started whispering to others that I was writing a book, the declaration got easier and easier with each reveal. Over time, I eventually got to the place where I could reply, “Thanks for asking, I’m doing well. My kids are crazy busy and the calendar is full, but what else is new?! Oh, yeah, I’m writing a book.”
After the first trimester, the initial shock wore off and, chapter by chapter, the body of work began to grow. I even bravely emailed work-in-progress out to close friends and confidants who graciously offered to read, edit and provide much needed feedback that would clean up my crappy first drafts and keep me rolling along with any semblance of coherency. Like bumper-guards in a bowling lane, these watchful eyes have kept my work from becoming a total gutter ball.
In the second trimester, I hit my stride. The initial announcement was out there and I was beginning (at least on my personal laptop) to “show.” With more confidence and excitement, I began pulling together the proverbial nursery. I played around with back cover copy and tried on different titles and subtitles to see what “names” felt right. Chapter after chapter the word document expanded. I was on fire with productivity!
Then, in the third trimester, progress slowed to a snail’s pace. Ideas and phrases didn’t come as easily as they once had. Every click of the keyboard felt painful. I would start to write, then a mental contraction would hit and I would halt progress altogether. “Just breathe,” I told myself. “You can do this.” A cloud of confusion descended on my mind and I questioned just “who-the-hell-I-thought-I-was” attempting to write a book in the first place? “Let’s face it,” I muttered. “You’re not fit to be a writer, let alone an author.” So, I have one possible book in me. Big deal. Who doesn’t? Once again, the floodgates of doubt flew open overtook my vulnerable soul.
That’s when it dawned on me – finishing the project is even scarier than starting it. Because, if I actually “finish” this book, I’ll be required to birth this precious baby and present it to the world. And I haven’t a clue if I’m even fit to be a literary mother. I mean, I may personally like my baby (all Moms are biased), but will other people like it? Will they “ooh” and “aah” and shower placating compliments or will they take one look at the end result and gasp, “What on earth was she thinking? She has no business birthing a book.”
Fear of rejection returned as the demon of the hour.
However, just as I was about to crack the door for this well-known presence, God’s truth intervened like it always does. I opened my inbox this morning and found a blog post written by Dan Barlow (published on The Steve Laube Agency’s website) which ministered to my tender heart.
Barlow connected to me with these words, “Authors and aspiring authors can easily fall prey to fear. Spending a lot of time creating something all for naught. Bad reviews. And dozens more… Fear can paralyze an otherwise optimistic, creative mind. So what can we do? We don’t replace fear with some sort of mindless positive thinking that convinces us we can do anything, but through prayer, preparation, training and practice, we replace fear with confidence that we did our part and the rest is out of our control.”
Well, there it is – in black and white. My fear isn’t merely about potential rejection; it’s about lack of control. Just like I can’t micro-manage and control the future of my beautiful human children, neither can I control the outcome of this book.
I only know I was supposed to give birth to it and nurture it the best I know how. The rest is up to God.
As Dan Barlow exhorts, I must not fall prey to the “false premise that [I am] responsible for the results that come from [my] work [because] in reality, publishing is one of the most complicated and multi-faceted endeavors on this planet. Success or failure in publishing is never easily attributed to one thing. It is always a combination of many factors, most of them out of the control of the author.”
Barlow goes on to remind me that I can only do my part to plant the seed and leave the fruit to God.
And so, with humble heart, having no idea if I am planting one tree or an entire orchard, I continue to write.
I will finish this book.
I will nurture and edit and I will leave the rest to God.
Thankfully, Barlow did not leave me stranded and alone. He graciously offers some steps “to defeating fear”:
1. Look up – every day to the source of all your hope, creativity and inspiration.
2. Look down – at your work and keep writing, growing and learning.
3. Give up – the responsibility that only God controls.
These simple, yet profound truths bolster me and give-me a much-needed second wind as I approach the finish line.
What about you? How do you tackle fear? Is there a project you feel called to start, a risk you are called to take?
If so, I would love to hear about it! You know writers are essentially some of the neediest people on the planet. Indulge me. I write to know I’m not alone.