I'm thinking about writing a book.
I keep saying it that way - "I'm thinking about writing a book" - despite the fact that I have already started writing - despite the fact that this blog itself is just a big old jumble of pre-writing. But a book is different from a blog. A blog can be edited and re-edited and deleted on a whim. A book has permanence and heft. A book is Significant and Important.
A book requires thought.
So I'm thinking about it. A book, I mean. Writing one.
But I'm starting to feel a little like Hamlet, spending a whole lot of time on the "to be or not to be" contemplation, and very little time on the actual doing of anything. I sit down at the computer and think, "Right. Book. Okay... Page 1," and my mind goes blank.
A couple of months ago, through the magic of Google, I tracked down my college writing professor to tell him that, twenty years out, I remembered his class, his advice, and his wisdom. I told him that as I developed a writing class of my own, I used his as a model. He wrote back to say that "of course" he remembered me (which, I think, says more about the kind of teacher he is than about the kind of student I was). We've been in touch a few times since, and recently I described my book-block to him.
He said that the solution was simple: Stop trying to write a book. Just let the book happen.
Yesterday, I had lunch with a writer friend who has published several books and who, it seems, is about to publish The Big One Which Will Make Him Wildly Famous. He's been supportive and encouraging about my Thinking About Writing a Book and has offered his help and direction. As I talked through my current paralysis, he suggested that I type out three words and post them on my wall:
Trust the process.
"Trust the process," he said. "It's not about you; don't try to make it about you. Have the courage to make a mess of your work, and to let the process unfold. Engage in it completely, and trust that it will move in the right direction."
And then I got it.
My friend had just described my philosophy of parenting: Don't make it about me. Be brave. Engage fully. Pay attention. Trust the process.
I do it every day with Bud. As he changes and evolves and grows and develops and morphs, I co-pilot without a guidebook or a road map - without, even, a clear sense of our destination. We just sit close together, hold on tight, and follow the Force. We trust the process.
And the process never lets us down.
So I'm trying it again. I'm plunging in and making a mess and navigating by instinct and watching to see what unfolds.
I'm trusting the process.
I'm writing a book.