"Clarity" -- great insights from a Writing Club member.
Today, I found out that my book needs to be done for my third-year/mid-career review, 11 months from now. “As close to being done as possible” is an option there in the wings, but if I want to take my place in this department, it needs to be done and to represent the very, very best work I can do. THEN the senior faculty put a jaw-dropping amount of time and intellectual engagement and discussion and writing into critiquing what I’ve given them (my book, as best I can conceive it), and THEN I write a better book.
This knowledge, while terrifying, has brought with it an amazing amount of clarity:
- My book needs me. It needs my heart and mind and time. It literally will not exist without me. And I want more than anything for it to exist.
- This is not a game. I can play games on myself all the live-long day, but not with the writing, not with the book. I have worked long and hard for this, given many years, garnered the investments of many brilliant people. It’s not time to toy with this; it’s not a spinning top for me to scuttle along the floor.
- I need a plan. I need a reasoned and reasonable plan. Builders don’t show up with their tools and “see what happens.” I need to see it, like rolling out a blue-print — to see how I will get from my dissertation to my powerful book. This is not an open-ended, ad-hoc process.
- I have to trust myself. This is the only way I can keep moving forward. Enough with the second-guessing and fretting and re-wording every last word. The one and only way to push through the static is to trust myself.
- What wants me can’t claim me. There is no limit on what others want of me, or what I want of and for myself. But my resources are limited. I cannot allow my own or other people’s desires to claim me, because I have this important work to do. Right now this work seems private, but it will make me who I want to be.
- Other people need to see my work. Regardless of whether I have real misgivings or if I just cannot manage my calendar, the work still needs exposure. This is not strategic, but substantive. Every time I share my work, it gets better. And it needs and deserves to get better.
- To everything there is a season. This year is the season for this book to come into bloom. I have to take care of it, I have to nurture and cultivate it, but its nature is to bloom, and this is its season.