As you may have heard (since I’ve been talking about it almost non-stop here), I’m still writing my book proposal for my third book. Book proposals are a slightly complicated, gigantic document that contains the summary of your book, who the book is for, and what magic fairies you’re going to conjure to help you sell the book.
It contains other things too, but my point is, the way I describe writing book proposals is it’s like that school project you have that is enormously time-consuming, super boring, a metric shit-ton of work, and 99% of your grade is riding on it. Oh, and the class it’s for is the Big Enchilada Important Class. No big deal.
As I’ve also mentioned before, this book will be slightly different than my first two. Still self-helpy, but it will have an edge. More opinionated. More in tune with what’s going on culturally and politically.
And all of this is scary for me, as this entire year has been about healing, moving through all sorts of old shit, and leveling up.
One of the things I’ve done to help myself is writing a letter to fear. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this and I decided if it’s good enough for Liz, it’s good enough for me!
In this week’s episode you’ll hear a few other things I’ve done to move through this time in my professional (and personal) life, and here is my letter to fear…
I’m not sure why I’m addressing you as “dear”, as you’re hardly dear to me in the least.
Let me start with some compassion since you don’t necessarily deserve to be yelled at, berated, or chastised. So, I get it. I get why you’re doing what you’re doing. You know, or at least are very certain, that if I write a BIG book, (and by “BIG”, I mean with lots of opinions, and “with lots of opinions” I mean opinions that millions of women and men also have the same opinions. Oh, the irony) there is a HUGE risk involved.
What if people disagree and write mean things about me on the internet? What if I don’t know enough about the topics and I’m criticized for that?
But, I think the thing that scares you the most, is not bad reviews or haters…but the success of this book. With HTSFLS doing so well, this book has big shoes to fill. And by big shoes, I mean 100,000 copies in 16 months. A big book advance to PROVE how worthy my creativity is. Numbers have weight and there are so many numbers to contend with. To you, Fear, big numbers equal everything good and right in my life.
There are so many what if’s and OMG’s and expectations. I understand your job is to know these backward and forward. To yell “WATCH OUT” at every turn, every second, and I believe your goal is to convince me to write a book that is so incredibly vanilla that it will be agreeable to all, or if you really had your wish, I just wouldn’t write another book at all. We’d just leave the party of authorhood with HTSFLS, blowing kisses to everyone and call it a day.
I understand that you are convinced this risk is equivalent to my possible death– playing Russian Roulette with the general public. That any failure of this book will not only result in public humiliation but will be my death. Death from starvation, or being stoned to death by my haters, or death by massive shame. Or maybe all three.
Trust me, I feel all of this in my marrow. Every day as I sat down to write the proposal for this book I hear you and feel you. I wring my hands and I worry. I make the anguished emoji face. I get GI issues.
So, we’re going to make a deal. You and me, fear. But, I need to tell you first that while I get you and see your job and even respect and admire your tenacity for doing said job, I have got this.
If you remember, I used to sit in my room for hours writing stories from the age of 9. This continued well into my teens and then for a decade or so I stopped writing because I lost myself, (but that’s a letter for another day), but when I picked up writing again it poured out of me. And for years this happened and then I wrote my first book. I actually did it, fear, do you remember? You were there so much during that time. We wrestled, you pushed, I pushed back and in the end, I did it. And we didn’t die– in fact, it ended up being fantastic, so fantastic I did it again. And like the good worker you are– always diligently showing up for your shift, on time, with your uniform clean and pressed, you came back that time and we made it through yet again. And that book was fantastic too. Even more so to me because I understood so much more about the creative process, the publishing journey, about myself, and about you.
I have got this because so many times I write things that I don’t remember. God is writing through me, she knows what needs to be said, and she whispers it to me. And when you’re yelling, it makes it hard for her to be heard. Ya, ya, I know you’re doing your job and I’ll get to our deal in a minute, but I need you to understand just how much I have got this.
This is important. This book wants and needs to be written. There are women out there of all ages who need this clarity, stories, advice, and my sense of humor to reach the next level in their life. They have their own fear that’s putting the breaks on and listen, Fear, we can have none of that. These women are trying to do incredible things, live better lives, be influences on other women. And they can’t do that if you’re in the way and yelling so loud.
So, back to our deal. I’m not banishing you or burning you at the stake. You can stay, but if you stay, we have to enlist some boundaries. First and foremost, I am in charge. The boss. The big kahuna. If it’s any consolation, seriously, remember this is our third time at this rodeo. I am fully equipped to be in the driver's seat.
Second, since you have permission to come along, there needs to be rules around that. No blabbering, no worst-case-scenario, no comparison to my previous writing or to other authors. In other words, I need you to maybe AT MOST whisper your worries when absolutely necessary. I promise I’ll acknowledge you.
You can’t be in charge fear, that’s the bottom line. I call all the shots and my voice is the loudest, the most important, and the most loving. It has to be. We may need to have future meetings once in a while and that’s fine if you need to give me all the warnings. I’ll hear you out. But, that’s it.
Oh, and thanks for keeping me safe all those other times, you know when I legitimately could have died. You’re the best for that.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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How to Stop Feeling Like Shit
52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life
Pussy: A Reclamation, Regena Thomashauer
YKAL Coaching Sessions: Upper Limit Problems with Rachel
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
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