As I was dozing off last night, I woke myself up with a startling thought: I am writing a book but I have been ashamed to talk about it. So, here it is in public for anyone to see: I’m writing a book, and I intend to get it published. I’m writing a memoir, in fact. I sometimes call it “Eat, Pray, Eat Eat Eat, Pray… Eat.” Like its eponym (but with a little more praying and food) it is a memoir of things that happened through my divorce. Except…I do not find myself, I do not find a man, I find HIM. It juxtaposes downward trajectory of my marriage and the collapse of my religious convictions against the increasing awareness of God’s personal pursuit of me. The best kind of romance—one born in vulnerability and grief. It is honest, it is raw, it is Him being strong when I’m at my weakest. Plus it’s sensual in all of the right ways (and the wrong ones, too).
You’ll understand my shock at my shame over it when I tell you that my more serious working title is Never Covered with Shame (from Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”) It’s about escaping from a cocoon of shame over my divorce and my own inadequacies, big and small, yet here I am recognizing shame over writing it. I’ve told some people about it. Honestly, until a few days ago I thought I was talking it up pretty well. I have a solid dozen people eager to read a draft, and many more interested in the final product. What more do I need at this point, really? Then the other day I went to my first writer’s guild meeting, and there were people with business cards identifying themselves as writers. There were people who had gone to conferences and gotten publishing contracts. And to a person they said the most important thing is to be excited about your work and share that excitement with others. “Well, sure,” I thought. “I’m excited and I talk about it sometimes, but I don’t want to be the annoying person who can’t shut up about it.” (If you know me, you know how little danger there is of me rattling on too much about ANYTHING.) “Really, I probably just need to get some business cards printed and I’ll be set.”
I previewed some business card designs. I planned a coffee date with a woman getting ready to publish her own moderately scandalous memoir. I was happy with those small first steps. Then tonight as I was going to bed, I realized that I’d just spent half an hour talking with my AirBNB guests about their art projects, but I did not once mention my writing or my book. My guest has a business card for his sculpture hobby that has now joined my growing collection of artist and writer business cards. The least I could have done was mention that the reason I’ll be getting up at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning is to write. And then I recollected all of times I’d chatted briefly about it and changed the topic. Or simply not mentioned it at all to people who might actually be interested.
Why am I ashamed? The things that ran through my head while I was writing the first paragraph of this post are illuminating:
Memoirs are the hardest kind of book to get published, particularly as debuts. You’re crazy to attempt this.
You have a real job that you get paid for. Writing is a dream—talking about it makes you look silly for taking it seriously.
Remember all the work you put into promoting your recipe website venture? You even had cool business cards. You couldn’t get that off the ground, and you’ll fail at this, too. All the time you spend will be wasted.
There are some rather shocking personal details in this book. Better leave off talking about it with people until you actually find a publisher (if you ever do).
Remember those years of playing violin after college, where you just got worse every year because you didn’t have as much time to practice? Yeah, this will be like that. You’re crazy to think you can accomplish something like this in between your job and all of your other activities.
Girl, you’re THIRTY EIGHT! People your age have been writing for years. AND they have training. You’ll be 80 before you catch up with the skill level of other people in their late 30s.
There are like 5 people who read your blog. What makes you think you should spend all this time writing and publishing a book? You’ll probably end up doing “vanity” publishing and have 2,000 copies sitting in your garage until you die.
I hereby declare that those are lies. I am writing a book. I’m super excited about it and I spend a good chunk of my spare time working on it. I am 4 chapters into my second draft. I’m hoping to have a good manuscript by mid-2018. Next time I see you, expect me to hand you my card identifying me as a writer and talk about it.