Warning: Patience Required

I wish that patience were the only characteristic needed to revise and publish my work, but the truth is much more overwhelming. Since the age of seventeen I have dreamed of writing a book, and about a week ago, I finished writing the first draft. Or in the words of Anne Lamott, I finished the “shitty first draft.” Documenting my life in nearly 120 pages of raw, brutally honest, and vulnerable text left me with a shaky conclusion: my work has only just begun.

After revising only the first of five parts, I now realize that my shitty draft is loaded with assumptions, fails to consistently offer enough context, desperately needs expert testimony, frequently displays the passive voice, and commits a multitude of other literary sins. But I only need to step back a distance to take solace in the fact that I still generated a framework for what will eventually be a refined, original, and stunning glimpse into my mind and its motives, understandings, and thoughts pertaining to life experiences, meaning, relevance, and purpose. Bottom line? I will need humility, resourcefulness, help, encouragement, and of course, patience. I will need all of these things and more in order to reach my goal and defeat certain undesirable traits of my flawed human nature. I will even need to draft a detailed proposal of my work, and perhaps the most intimidating truth is also the key to gaining any widespread exposure: I will have to share my work–my soul–with the understanding and expectation that it will be, and should be, heavily criticized.

*Deep breath*

Now that I have expressed some of my greatest concerns about the process of revising, proposing, and publishing my work, let me tell you how excited I am. I have thought about this book for years. I have envisioned grand success in the forms of fame and fortune, but more importantly, I have envisioned my work as inspiring to those in need of encouragement, in search of meaning, and in pursuit of goals. I have learned a great bit about myself and my passions while writing and beginning to revise my first draft. I have rediscovered how fun writing can be after years of monotonously crafting academic papers for undergraduate and graduate degrees. Even this blog has allowed me to experience that type of feeling, but my book…well, my book is a far more expansive view into my heart and mind than any of my postings on this site.

Interestingly, I finally found the motivation to write my book when I realized that the worst thing that could happen wouldn’t be all that bad after all. I will eventually submit my work to various agents and publishing houses, and hopefully at least one will find my prose and story worthy of sharing with a large audience. Still, should my book never flourish in literary circles, I will at least have tried. And it feels exceptionally good to even be at this point. I cannot imagine what it will feel like in a few short months when I am ready to submit a more polished draft. And I cannot wait to share the work with some friends, colleagues, and former professors before sending it off to the broader world. So wish me luck, and may you find patience in the process of pursuing your dreams–it’s difficult, but something is telling me that it’s worth the toil.

Patience is not simply the ability to wait–it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.

-Joyce Meyer

 

 

Thirty Minute Challenge

I have somewhere to be in thirty-five minutes. With that being said, my idea of a fun challenge is to draft a blog post in thirty minutes or less–one that offers something of substance. Let’s see…3,2,1:

Herein begins the challenge. The clock reads 4:05 p.m. and I have absolutely no direction or guiding thought. This takes me back to some writing exercises that I discovered in college–the type that demanded creative genius and a willingness to draft something utterly incomprehensible by man or animal. We were encouraged to try new things, abuse grammar rules, break from convention, and have a great time. Truth be told, I hated this exercise the first few times. I had previously been taught a slew of rules, orthodox conventions, structural laws (if you will), and approaches to writing that left little to the imagination. But if you know me at all, then you know that when someone gives me no boundaries I tend to enjoy myself.

And so my rant continues–a terrible transition, no argument here. I’m listening to music, and while the playlist offers variety and is set to pick songs at a random rate, I feel rather centered. I feel at home when writing, and I think it has little to do with any exercise I have ever tried. Instead, I think writing offers me a landscape to articulate myself in ways that I cannot so easily embrace through other mediums. I am very comfortable speaking, but damn, I feel like the LeBron James of penmanship when typing tirelessly in the hope of making someone smile, laugh, cry, challenge my position, or flat out tell me that my work is garbage. Go ahead. I’m all smiles. You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m going to try to get something from it–however pleasing or painful it may be to my ear and ego.

…I couldn’t help but look at the clock just now. I’m kind of upset I did. I think I was beginning to really explore something in the previous paragraph, but this is not the first time that I’ve derailed my own focus–won’t be the last either.

  • 4:16 p.m.: subject sits back and listens to Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris”
  • 4:17 p.m.: subject considers lyrics, nods head in contemplation and deep thought, plans to return to blog post

I’m totally lost at this point. Less than five minutes ago I was comparing myself to arguably the greatest basketball player of my generation and now I’m thinking about how much I’m going to hate mowing the lawn once the rains pass and portions of its luscious green appeal are overgrown and taunting me with tall, allergy-laden blades. I think I’m going to invest in those little white masks and some sunglasses–they might help. I would look pretty cool, too. I might even be able to hear myself breathe with the mask on my face. I could sound like Darth Vader and imagine that my front yard is a mysterious setting for the next great science fiction movie. Or I could just continue sneezing and rubbing my eyes–neither would surprise me; this isn’t terribly high on my list of priorities right now.

This feels really, really good right now. I am feeling absolutely no pressure to provide my audience with anything more than what is passing through my mind. Ironically, I remember the onset of this blog post and thinking, “Better try to deliver something good in thirty minutes or less.” Like a pizza guarantee I was (Yoda voice).

  • 4:23 p.m.: subject is beginning to recognize that he is changing topics in concert with the changing of music
  • 4:24 p.m.: subject is pumped because Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” just began to play

Aladdin had the life: adventure, conflict, a bad-ass monkey friend, a genie with the voice of the late and great Robin Williams, and of course, his princess. I can almost see myself riding a rug–like one you might purchase at The Dump in Oaks, PA at an outrageously discounted price because “the store is closing this week.” And every other week, right? Though now my thought of riding around like Aladdin is being interrupted by my dad’s voice, reminding me that no sale is really ever a sale. He was a salesman for a long time and now works as a VP for a sales division, so I’m just going to accept his word on that one. Back to the carpet ride: I don’t look as good as Aladdin did with the puffy pants, sweet vest, bodacious kicks, and charming hat, but my blazer, button down French cuff shirt, and golden tie bring a nice, modern twist to the story.

  • 4:29 p.m.: subject likes new song but is saddened that “Magic Carpet Ride” had to end
  • 4:30 p..m: subject just realized that he used 1/30th of his time to scroll back up to the beginning of this post to see when he began

Five minutes left. Grand finale, right? Maybe. Five minutes is a long time. I know–I’ve been running more lately, and five minutes sucks. I mean, I used to trot like Bambi and now I lumber like a Grizzly post-hibernation. But you know what? I’m trying. I’m making a more concerted effort to take care of myself. I’ve been assaulting the salad bar lately. Spring mix, spinach, sunflower seeds, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, black beans, avocado. You name it. Oil and vinegar, too. Can’t eat those calorie-rich dressings, for it defeats the purpose of the salad.

Two minutes. I am now wishing that I didn’t have a meeting at 4:40 p.m. Do you think they’ll notice if I sit down and stare at my screen and continue to type frantically with my music blaring like it is right now? Just kidding…I’ll turn the music off! I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. I’m practically laughing over here.

  • 4:35 p.m.: subject has completed his mission and is scared to publish because he had no time to proofread his work

Peace and blessings.