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.
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.