When I look back on the many lists I have made about things I want to do with my life, one thing has been a constant. I have wanted to write a book. What’s equally interesting about this constant is that I have really done very little to make that happen. Yes, I have taken writing classes, written tons of short pieces and started this blog. But nothing as committed to completing the goal as I have been to other things that would show up on my list, like a bike tour in Europe or moving to Montana, getting my Diploma in Counseling at The Haven or starting our own company, Thrive!. These I put on the list, saw them and did them. Some taking more discipline than others.
So I decided to hire a coach. CrisMarie had the name of someone who was known for coaching writers so I decided to set up a chat. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect but what I thought would be an easy call turned into something else entirely.
It isn’t that this writing coach said anything too harsh. She simply wanted to know why I wanted to write a book, and as I rattled off the many things that seemed like good reasons, she kept pointing out that my responses seemed to have more to do with what others wanted than what I wanted.
At one point on the call I started down the path of sharing that I wanted to write my story. The journey I had been on through cancer and through dealing with my history which was filled with stories that never could be confirmed as fiction or non-fiction. She was relentless in trying to re-focusing me on the question of “why write a book?” and “who is audience?”. I found myself and tears and quite fragmented by the end of the call.
So I wonder what is it about writing a book that remains untouched on my list of lifetime goals and causes such fragmentation with simple questions like why do you want to write? and who are you writing for?.
As I told the coach, there is some part of me that simply wants to say “I did it. I started and I finished.” I have a history of believing I am not very good at that. I tried making that I worthwhile reason for why on the call by sharing my childhood experience of having an unfinished box of craft projects that haunted me. The coach didn’t fall for that. She pointed out that that still wasn’t about my reason now for writing and would not likely carry me through the mess and hard work of completing a book.
She wanted to know why, if I enjoyed blogging, didn’t I do more and make that a path for my writing. I had shared that I loved blogging but was not as disciplined as I wanted to me. Again, I tried using the ADD, distraction excuse, but I was not going to get off that easy. So instead, I dug deeper and that is how I found myself talking about my history. Dealing with cancer and my memories from my childhood. The story came out quite scrambled in my opinion. At some point, I shared my fears of getting lost again in the past and the compelling possibility of wholeness I imagined might come from successfully accomplishing the task.
Indeed, I believe the chat did help me focus and find my reasons for wanting to write. I also think I understand why blogging fits my style more than writing a book. Blogging let’s me come up for air and step into my present. A book would be a path I imagine having to take alone. That terrifies me. What if I go back there and get lost?
It’s funny, my past is what makes me a great counselor and coach. In listening and being present with someone who is courageously stepping into their own mess, I am quite competent and able to hold a space for them. I am able to easily stay on solid ground with whatever comes up or gets thrown my way. I can use my own journey to keep the faith that even in the blackest moments there will be a path. I trust my ability without doubt to stay present for the traveler even when the traveler doubts themselves.
Yet I am terrified of my ability to hold that same faith and solidity for myself. I have equated the hard, long road of writing a book about my life as a path to holding that space for me, and I have been unwilling to commit as fully to that task as I have to other more relational goals.
Maybe that is okay. Maybe knowing why I want to write will ignite my will, and I will go forward. For now this blog is my first pass at taking a step.
May even become a way to take the journey without being so alone.
The coach did say she wasn’t really interested in simply being an accountability coach. She believed I could find other ways to create the structure I needed and a way to stay accountable. Maybe she was right.