Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Finished, Flapping My Wings

I did it.  I finally wrote my book!  After 8 years of talking about it, I wrote the whole thing in just 7 weeks.  This is not bragging, but an example of focus, discipline, and following through.  Three things I struggle with daily.  Like a lot of people, I always try to do too much and as a result, I rarely move forward on any of them.  It took quitting a job, turning down several other opportunities, and isolating myself from the world to finally do it.  

It wasn't easy at first.  The voices in my head would say, Nobody cares about this.  You are wasting your time.  Leave this stuff in the past.  The eight storage crates full of reminders of the many places I have been and numerous times I failed or faced challenges that tested my strength and determination.  I would open journals and read my thoughts from 2008, knowing how naive I was, or in the case of 2011, how sad and scared I was when nothing seemed to go right no matter how hard I tried.  But regardless of what time I was reliving, I would force myself to put on the same blue sweatpants and t-shirt that said 'Dream more, complain less' and sit in my desk chair in front of my computer with a cup of coffee by 7 a.m. and write.  Most of the time till 5 p.m. or if I was on a roll, till 8 p.m.  Every single day.  This time, I would see it through.  No matter what.  

And I did it.  Thanks to determination and the birds outside my window.  

The birds.  The parents had built a nest in a bush outside my window and the babies were born in the first week I started writing.  I would take breaks to sit outside and watch the parents go back and forth feeding them bugs and worms.  Then the babies realized it was time to leave the nest and flew off.  I would watch one bird struggle, unable to fly so easily like his brother and sister.  He made it out of the nest, but now would sit on a low branch and chirp loudly for his mom to come feed him.  For weeks.  Until one day I saw him hop off the branch, flap his wings, and hop across the street.  There he would grow lean and strong.  One day he was gone.  The following week I heard his chirp and ran across the street and he was at the highest point of the tallest tree.  He had finally done it.  It had taken him a while, maybe longer than everybody else, but in his own time, he had found the strength.  After just a few moments for me to get a photo, he spread his wings and flew away from me forever.
We are all capable of anything as long as we are patient with ourselves.  Not everybody can get out of that nest on the first try.  Like that bird, it has taken me a long time to finally be ready to write this book.  I've struggled for years writing a few stories here and there, but not really wanting to dig deep or do the real work that was necessary.  In choosing to stay on that low branch, I was safe.  Technically, I was out of the nest so nobody could judge me or reject me, but I was also holding myself back from truly soaring.

My dream was never to be a comedian or a librarian.  It was to be a "Solid Gold" dancer.  And when that show was canceled, I focused on being a writer instead.  Writing for the school paper, yearbook, skits, plays, and later press releases, jokes and parody songs.  But the one thing I wanted more than anything was to be an author.  I wrote a book in 2004 and that completed manuscript sits next to me unpublished.  I gave up when a few people didn't want it.  I would sit on that low branch for the next 10 years until 7 weeks ago, I decided to hop off of it.

Of course, there is still a lot of work ahead, including revising the 537 pages down to 300, finding an agent again, then a publisher, and whatever comes after that.  But thanks to my little bird, I know that tall tree is absolutely within my reach as long as I continue to flap my wings and try.