Thoughts on a preview of my book, that I’ll likely regret blogging about…
Sometimes I have to write not because it’s simply cathartic but because it is life for me. It’s the one thing that I can do that makes me feel wholly and completely my truest self. That’s why I’m writing today.
The trick is to carry that true self over into the rest of my everyday life. Which is something I’ve struggled with from my earliest memories. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if I even struggled with it in utero desperately wanting to please my mum. Oh, you need me to kick? You got it! Did I do well?
I’m a pleaser. It’s something that I both love and truly loathe about myself. The reason why I love it is that I find true joy in making others happy. The reason why I loathe it is that I can so easily lose myself in wanting to please others. When the heavy hand of negativity, rejection or criticism comes down on me, my gut reaction is to change myself as to avoid any more of the same. It’s literally unbearable to my soul. It cracks me clean in half. What took me almost 40 years to discover is that this is a fallacy. I can not, nor will I ever be able to, control the behavior of other people. Just because I have a head knowledge of that fact, the heart knowledge is a day to day struggle and will be for the entirety of my life.
Yet as good as I am at transforming into whatever I need to be, I have found that now the real me will always show up. When she does show up, everything in my life aligns perfectly with the stars. Even more so, when I’m able to accomplish this feat without apology, oh dear God, break out the Perrier-Jouet (my favorite champagne.)
What does all this have to do with writing a book?
You already knew I was going to tell you and fully without the gift of brevity I can assure you.
I’ve started a LOT of books. I began a book on success years ago. The only problem was, I wasn’t exactly successful. Sure I was dining with governors in the evening, but only after I had cleaned toilets all day and bought a dress I couldn’t afford with a strategically placed price tag that would allow me to tuck it in and be returned the next day. I felt like a big phony.
I wanted to write that book so badly. It was about the freedom we enjoy in this country about our right to pursue happiness. It was mostly a political book. The problem aside from being a big success phony, I realized pretty much all of politics was made up of phonies. Holy God, politics is like the mother ship of phonies. I learned 99.9% of all politicians don’t give a rat’s ass about your happiness. Then the lines became very blurred on who the good guys were. And I abandoned my book. (But there was this great chapter about the Foo Fighters I really wish you could have read. It was a thing of beauty.)
I started several other books since then. I didn’t finish any of them. It never felt “right”. But I’ve come to realize that writing isn’t always about when you feel like it. After reading Stephen King’s book On Writing, I felt my ass had sufficiently been kicked by the almighty, admittedly creepy, astonishingly talented, King of the modern publishing world. He wrote, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” As a matter of fact, reading about his journey, especially his struggle, was like a light shining through a cathedral’s stained glass window that before I had only stared at in the dark. Finally, I got it. It was crystal clear and it was beautiful.
So, I started writing. Whether I felt like it or not. I employed other writer’s advice along the way. Frances Mayes writes in“Life offers you a thousand chances… all you have to do is take one.” She also advises one of her previous college students to take one of his terrible ideas and just make it work. That’s what I’m doing.
I just realized today, however, this is the book I was meant to write.
It’s about how real happiness in life is found when we are authentically living who we truly are. Much of our lives are concerned with putting on airs. We have to become someone specific at our jobs. We try to be someone else with our children. We struggle to be who we truly are in our relationships. All because we want that love, acceptance, and maybe a raise.
I’ve had some things in my life that have been difficult lately. I’ve felt like I was losing ground of being truly myself. I worked so hard to figure out who I was in the first place. I walked quite literally through a fire to get to it. I don’t want to lose it.
I’m not particularly young, or skinny, or wealthy. I’m pretty neurotic really. I obsess. I worry. A lot of times a big ball of stress. I say “like”, “so”, and “but” too much. But<==== you know what? Oh my God, am I fierce.
Along with all of the above, I am kind and loving. I have a heart for animals like you’ve never known. I’m passionate. About all manner of things. I am truly loyal to a devastating fault. (Which I hate saying because Stephen King says the road to hell is paved with adverbs.) You know, aside from being completely goofy, I’m actually kind of cool. And I’m a badass when I want to be.
I told a friend this morning after speaking with her that once again I felt like a big phony. How can I write a book on authenticity if I’m not being authentic and embracing all those qualities I just mentioned? She magically replied, “If we can’t talk ourselves into courage then who can we talk into it.” I realized that my struggle with living authentically makes me fully qualified to write this damn book. I only regret bringing it up to you for the accountability factor. Now the cat is out of the bag and expectations will be on the rise.
I created “Betty” because deep down she’s always been who I truly am but when I was living in a constant state of fear I could only dream of being her. For years I hid behind her. Waiting. Hoping. Over time I learned I am her, and she is me. In all our splendid messy glory. We’re the whole package. The good and the bad. And I don’t ever want to hide her from daylight again.
So Betty and I are going to write this damned book even when we don’t feel like it. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll actually finish it!
I’ll let you know…