“Thinking isn’t writing, ideas aren’t writing; only writing is writing and we should make it exist in reality, which means ultimately not on a screen. Words behave differently when they sit in fresh air.” -- DBC Pierre
I took my sketchbook out and started playing with this book many months ago, but the analytical work of thinking had been going on for years. Don’t all of us dream, and carry around hopes of fulfillment? I wanted to write this book for years, but other work always took precedent. Something else that someone else wanted of me was always more important than what I, individually, had to do.
My friend, Woody, used to tell me, “If you want to write a book, then write a book – what’s the problem?” Woody knew what I am only learning: it’s now or never. When that insight hits you, you are forced to choose. Feed your ambition or set it free.
When I started sketching the plan, my desire to write this book was getting unbearable. The timing was all wrong from any practical view, but pragmatism was irrelevant. I took a simple step, and the commitment was made. Then came the inevitable necessity of ruthlessness. No nurturing instinct, courteous self-sacrifice, rank bribery, cajoling, or threat could shake my grip off the sketchbook, then the index cards, then the manuscript. I think I fought that fight every single day to just DO THE WORK. But take heart in this: it got easier to glance off those imminent blows. The honorable force of habit eventually turned the tide, so that the default action was to work on the book.
In a fit of self-assured cockiness, I had told a friend, “I can write this book in two weeks”. But two months later, I was still working. And 3 months, 4 months… The more you love language, the harder it is to finish because you find yourself startled at being able to revise successfully, in a way that communicates more accurately. But, that is partly bullshit, too – it can be very hard to tell apart beneficial revisions from psychological resistance. I found it indispensable to have an honest friend tell me whether I was helping or hurting the book. More than once.
Finally, one day, I knew “Growing Bold” was complete. I recorded myself reading it aloud, played it on my car stereo, and thought, “Yes..” Setting aside the technical and business issues of self-publishing (a subject for another blog day), the book was finished. Like a painting or a song, there comes a point when it is time to let it “sit in fresh air”.
It is a great feeling to fulfill a dream. It is inspiring to realize that living to middle-age has permitted me this accomplishment. I hope you insist on getting yours, too.