alternate title: freaking out about freaking out
so I missed a day of writing. nothing came yesterday. I thought a lot about a lot of things, but nothing quite made sense for me to write about.
was just chatting with a friend about the frustrations of trying to be productive - trying to do the right thing and getting stymied...by life, other people, our own bs. the awkward process around getting things done and being hard on ourselves when we don't.
I've had a few of the most amazing conversations in the last few days as well, and I've found when I have time to get into and I start talking about my book, people are blown away and totally excited about the story I'm telling.
I hesitated just there, because I wasn't sure if I should write, "the story I'm trying to tell," instead.
it's hard. telling a story well is hard.
and one parallel that I've found is a hard lesson I learned about myself in yoga teacher training. knowing that it was way outside of what I consider to be my area of expertise (something I lean on hard for safety, by the way), I was terrified to try.
my teacher asked me to walk up to someone in downward dog in front of the class on one of the first days, and she asked, "where are you drawn to?" I panicked a bit, my face got hot, and I was like, "I have no idea." then I was like, "well, I don't know how to explain it."
and she said, "try."
it was a pretty profound moment for me. I went with it, tried something, we talked about it, and the class went on.
I walked away from that class deeply embarrassed. like I had failed somehow...wasn't naturally amazing at this thing I'd never done before. but actually, when I sat with it that night, and even the next few days, I realized that I am absolutely mortified to learn in front of people.
when I shared with the class about my experience, I started to admit that what I've always done is taken my lessons, gone home and perfected something, and then presented it in its polished form. the awkward learning I did in grad school was all revealed only to my professors, behind closed doors, in iterations of papers and ongoing feedback. but letting anyone else see my unfinished work was way too vulnerable thing for me to expose.
and here I am, writing this book, and the same lessons are hitting me square in the face.
I was struggling yesterday with this project itself - grappling with the tension between showing the soft underbelly of what I'm up to, but at the same time feeling that need to be polished and complete and know what the hell I'm talking about.
of course, I do know what the hell I'm talking about, and when I get into it, it resonates. but right now, the process of "writing" the book actually has everything to do with how I tell the story. which way to tell the story.
because the story has several very powerful threads, and my instinct is to try to gracefully and almost magically be able to weave it all together into the everything story. but I've also found over time, through other storytellers, is that one of the biggest mistakes early novelists and script writers make is to try to put everything in the story.
that people can actually only really access what you're trying to say through a clear narrative, and that other parts can be unveiled in time. right now, I'm in the middle of figuring out which thread is the most powerful and accessible thread for people to grab onto. and because of that, it makes the book really hard to talk about.
having spoken to some people who understand messaging, communication, and marketing, I keep receiving the same message: that the most important thing in telling a story is the "why?"
who cares and why should people care?
and how to I introduce and deliver a message about something that I know so much about in a way that people who have never looked at the topic can nod their head and be like, holy crap! yea.
this is writing. as much as, or probably way more than, pounding out pages in a cabin. in academic terms, I'm looking for my thesis statement. or rather, I'm trying to choose which part of the thing is my thesis - what is the skeleton that the connective tissue then builds on?
and it stopped me in my tracks yesterday, knowing that I'd hit another shift in my thinking about it, and not wanting to expose the awkward behind the scenes work.
and knowing that, actually, ironically, one of the personal self-sabotagey stories I've been telling myself for years is that, "I'm not a storyteller." as in, my work is non-fiction, at arms length, making and argument and stating facts in a way that doesn't leave me vulnerable.
but even in academia, the thing my advisors pushed me hardest on was to find my voice.
and really this whole exercise, in work and it life is really about finding my voice and putting it out there and standing with it.
knowing that I have something to say, and saying it. authentically.
the terror in being authentically oneself is that my authentic self could be rejected. in fact, the truth is it will be by some people. almost nothing is universally approved of, and that's ok. that's part of it. it may actually be the beauty of it all. saying my thing, knowing that it will resonate for real with some people and be completely rejected by others, and being totally ok with that. even comfortable in it.
and look at that. I just wrote a whole thing that came from my authentic voice, my search, my learning.
and I'm going to turn around and catch up and write out about the title struggle - the innards of the process of the storytelling. the learning and the finding and the trying it on.
and the letting go. the letting go of being caught in the dressing room. the letting go of freaking about about productivity, of being hard on myself, of freaking out about freaking out. and the self-worth questions that go with struggling with something and not having it perfect.
how about letting go of the need to be perfect at all, because that's nonsense. I'm just going to tell my fucking story.