I don’t know that it is going to be a surprise to most, but I’m still not done with my book.
I know. Shock. Except not.
I have all kinds of reasons that I can identify as to why I haven’t made better progress on my manuscript, like… severe family crises, finding out I have had ADHD, a pandemic. Surely, I can grace myself a bit about it, right?
Not as easy as just deciding to do that, though. Especially since I have PUT IT OUT THERE.
There’s always this danger when announcing the intention to do a big thing. People ask about it all the time, which is totally okay. Still, when I respond about it, it’s completely common for me to have a somewhat sheepish grin on my face that communicates my discomfort with my seeming lack of progress.
At the root of that discomfort is the experience of shame.
It took me a little while to figure out why I felt ashamed and that I had let myself (and others) down when I haven’t come close to finishing a project that I started in the summer of 2016. Part of it is that I have shared some of the journey with people, getting them emotionally and mentally involved, but without a finished product. Another is that I have taken time off to write and have traveled away for writer’s retreats. Still, no product.
But what is really at the heart of it is that I make things happen, and, in this case, I can’t make the “thing” happen any quicker in the same manner, which is super frustrating. What happened to that gal who would start a grad school final paper 3 hours before it was due and get a glowing response and ‘A’ from her professor? Surely I could just sit down and do the thing?!?
What has changed?
Well, aside from the things I mentioned, which have been barriers, to be sure, there is also the reality of aging and that, just maybe, I have had too many things on my plate for a while.
Wait, before some of you jump on that (you know who you are) – too many things on my plate to effectively access the part of my heart, mind, body, and soul that are required to memorialize what I have been breathing and living for so many years now. In the last few months, as I have slowly released situations and relationships that have pulled my attention and focus without providing any healthy outcomes, I have started to see that the respite for my whole person is allowing me to think deeper and differently.
As I have moved out of some of this “hustle culture” and realized that I don’t need to try and qualify my existence, I have had more capacity to engage the parts of me that are ready to speak into the building of trauma-informed ministry and spaces. What a relief!
This has required me to find grace and release shame.
There is no shame to be had when you are in survival mode and are unable to thrive. There is no shame when you desperately want to create but give that creativity to supporting others. There is no shame in realizing that your capacity is different than you thought it was.
Finding grace means I tell the truth to myself about what I can truly accomplish when I don’t have the resources I need for that time and allow myself to release that expectation. Finding grace means that I can hear the query of others regarding the status of the book as a support, not a judgment or condemnation. Finding grace means that I realize that the life I am living speaks to the topic differently than the life I lived before and that none of the time was wasted.
What freedom to embrace!
So with all of that in mind, I wanted to share with you that I am going to try a fun experiment this November; for the first time, I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo!
NaNoWriMo is an event that occurs in November to encourage writers to set a goal for writing a specific word count for the month by setting daily targets and eventually finishing a draft of something. The “typical” goal is 50,000 words, and I have decided to try it out this year.
I am particularly excited about the gamification aspect of this effort, especially if time or resistance is the thing to beat instead of someone else [listen, I am super competitive, but I am trying to be more cooperative than competitive, so this is a practice session of that skill], because it feels like pushing toward growth, with fairly low stakes and no harm to anyone involved.
What do you get if you “win” NaNoWriMo?
A draft. Yup. You get to clear your head of all of the words that are swirling around and begin the next phase of the work – editing.
Which I hate.
So it’s a little funny that my version of winning will result in something that I try to avoid as much as possible. Still, I am really excited to go into 2023 with a giant leap toward the next phase and a much more rested brain.
Stay tuned for new updates on my progress, and please feel free to cheer me on in the comments or on the Facebook/Insta.