But it’s true. I wrote the first draft of a whole, complete book this summer. I never dreamed I would finish something. And now? I’m hooked. Because let’s face it, not everyone wants to schlepp pennies for clicks for conglomerates. Some of us have shit to say. We have stories and memoirs that burn black, ashy grooves in our brains until we finally let them out into the world.
I don't promote the work of other writers without thought or care. I do it strategically. I do it for authors whose platforms I support, and yes, agree with. I do it for individuals that work to spread positivity rather than judgment, or I do it for interesting, likable people with whom I hope to sit on a panel someday. People like New York author Patty Chang Anker, who I’m introducing when she visits Forever Books this Thursday, August 7th, at 7:00 PM. She will sign copies of her book, Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave. Patty surfed for the first time off the coast of Silver Beach in Lake Michigan, after renting her surfboard from Third Coast Surf Shop (see chapter 7). No biggie for them, they surf in winter all the time, because that’s when the waves are totally rad. But Patty was a newbie. And FYI, Lake Michigan acts a LOT like an ocean, complete with rip tides. Several people who haven’t spent a lifetime learning to respect the lake are at risk of drowning, and some do drown, each season.
Another for instance, I can’t thank my co-facilitator, Ami Hendrickson of @MuseInks enough, from the bottom of my procrastinating, doubtful heart for bringing me along for the #Write2TheEnd ride of a lifetime this summer.
While co-facilitating our maiden 8-week session of #Write2TheEnd, I was talking, you see, to myself about giving ourselves permission and casting out our doubts and claiming our worth (thank you, coaches Nancy & Nicci). Funny how that works. And what a delicious, evil brain Ami has for thinking up #Write2TheEnd and inviting me to co-facilitate the course with her.
As I was teaching, I was learning beside our participants and listening to Ami share amazing tools that actually make writing a book possible. And those who know me know I’m all about possible. But we humans can’t always see what’s in front of our faces. We throw up walls and excuses and what ifs and we let fear get in the way.
And we let the judgment of others who use terms like “humblebrag” make us question ourselves and feel icky about an essential aspect of getting our work out there: marketing and self-promotion. Even if you get a publisher these days, you’re doing your own marketing. And the current climate makes that a difficult and delicate balance to strike.
Investing in a course like #Write2TheEnd, or gifting yourself with a writing retreat like the Haven Retreat that changed my life when I took a train from Michigan to Montana in the middle of the coldest winter in decades, is so much different than talking about writing a book. This is actually taking meaningful steps toward DOING it with purpose and with a plan and with accountability and with amazing support, if I do say so myself. ~blush~
And I will be the first to champion #Write2TheEnd alumni the moment their stories are no longer tentative, private, wistful ideas. The success they have achieved already, just by investing in the work and in themselves, and accomplishing their goals, means they've already earned Ami's and my eternal support.
#Write2TheEnd participants set their goal at the first session with a reward in mind: meeting their goal earns them $100 by The End of the 8 weeks--their particular end, whatever that end might be.
I picked the “low hanging fruit” method, to kind of fool myself into submission. I started our eight-week session with the goal of turning blogs from a site I had shut down into a book. Easy peasy. It’s already written, right?
Ha! Silly me. One thing led to another, reading and tweaking my old blog posts prompted more writing and the need to fill in holes, to connect the bits and pieces, and include more data about what I’ve learned and whom I’ve learned from along the way. So what began as maybe a 50,000-word book, will likely end up closer to an 80,000-word book. And I’m not even getting $100 back at the end. Because…teacher. That wouldn’t be fair. Buy wow! I did that!
I’m pretty geeked. But my pride and joy in my own accomplishment doesn’t begin to compare with how my heart is swelling with pride and joy and amazement at the progress our participants have made, in the breakthroughs they’ve experienced, and in the success they’ve achieved.
It’s obvious to me from the process of writing my book this summer that I have indeed overcome and achieved a great deal: I have three amazing kids and we’ve held our blended family together for over twenty years through a lot of struggle. But building and supporting writers ranks in the top ten of my greatest achievements thus far.
As we wrap up our summer session and gear up for our fall session, which begins September 15th, I’m looking back with the amazement and pride of a momma bird watching her flock take flight.
Sooo…perhaps I am bragging about writing a book this summer, but there’s nothing humble about it. And well, it’s just too bad if I am humblebragging anyway. It’s amazing to me that I finished something, and I’m damn proud of myself. And I’m damn proud that I’m a part of something that can help make that happen for others. Shoot me. Call me a braggart. I don’t care.
It isn’t an understatement to say that if I can do it, you truly can, too. I hope you’ll join us. Even if you’re not local to southwest Michigan, be sure to get on the mailing list for the newsletter. We’re working on offering online options and on expanding the site in 2015, which, it freaks me out to say, is right around the corner.
On Monday, August 25th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, at our offices, 420 Main Street, St. Joseph, Ami and I are planning an evening to introduce ourselves to a new batch (or returning batch) of local writers, share a little about our program, and share a little about the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana, we recently attended. We will hold a mini session open to your questions with answers to help you meet your goals and build your writer community. If there’s time, we may open it up to a read-around during which you can share a short work of your own.
I hope you’ve done something as amazing and outside your comfort zone with your summer as I have. If so, I hereby invite you to humblebrag about it in the comments.