As I’m typing this post, it’s the middle of the twenty-fifth day of my 5o-Day commitment to thinking of myself as a writer. This won’t go live and you won’t be able to read it until sometime Monday morning, which is technically past the half-way point of this journey and eight hours into Day 26. Let’s agree to ignore the actual math involved in defining the “middle” of a journey the way we agree to accept that television chefs always have perfectly baked final products ready to pull out of the oven and taste at the end of their thirty-minute episodes. The middle of a journey is really whenever you end up stopping for lunch, isn’t it?
I’ve learned a few things about myself, written words and paragraphs in my journal and on my computer, and wasted a lot of time during these first 25 days. I’ve been focused on my writing but also completely absorbed in my actual job, which is keeping me so incredibly busy during these early spring-ish months. My brain is buzzing with stress and deadlines and ideas, and that seems like the perfect mix to me.
- I tried a few coffee shops/writing locations near my apartment in Chicago and have adopted a location three blocks away. There are outlets everywhere, the espresso drinks are delicious, and the coffee shop is operated by some church so I feel better spending $5.00 on something I could make for myself at home. I’m here now, and a poster from an event at the Ryman Auditorium is hanging on the wall that faces my table. I’m sitting in the sun, looking at the words “Nashville Tennessee” and drinking a latte with chocolate, hazelnut, and cayenne pepper. I can’t think of a better way to nurture my creative insides.
- During a ten-day bootcamp with my writing group, I chose a topic for my writing project (even if I’m not quite ready to call it a book), told my writing group what my topic was, and felt the soothing coolness of positive feedback and acceptance calm my nerves. I also mustered the courage to reach out to a few friends about my
sillydream, so I’ve taken the first few steps toward using the “w”-word [writer] with my real-life friends and family.
- I have 4,000 words, notes, and research in a highly rough and scattered word document that has the headings and pagination of a non-fiction book proposal. It’s not actually a book proposal today, but I’m using that structure to sketch out my project. Working in this format is oddly comforting, because it is exactly what real writers do for every book they write. I’ve found the language of the world I’m walking in, and I’m ready now to meet people without feeling like a fraud: I can spend the next five years saying that I’m “working on a book proposal” before anyone that doesn’t know me well might become suspicious. It’s completely normal for that process to take forever and for “real” writers to get distracted for months, discouraged for years, or otherwise lose focus for a long while before getting a final proposal together. I know how to introduce myself and vaguely describe my project, so I’m ready to rent a car and drive to Grand Rapids and meet other writerly people. That goal is officially accomplished.
- My friend Abby has scheduled a public event at the end of the conference in Grand Rapids where my writing group will take turns reading our work out loud. To strangers (and worse, to our friends). While the pre-#50days me would say oh, no, I’m not really a writer and so I will just cheer the rest of you on, the me that is 25 days into being a real writer has [unfortunately] accepted the challenge and promised to find something, anything really, to read. I’m much more driven by external expectations of those I love than my own secret dreams, so I think this is actually the perfect thing to push me during the second-half of this journey: I have an idea and some draft-quality words, but now I need a chapter-ish length piece that is good enough to share, along with a gallon of confidence and a cute new outfit. In the next three weeks I need to finish a draft piece so I can edit it, and then prepare to present it with/to my people.
This effort hasn’t been on my mind every minute, and for the last few days at work my brain has been swimming in deadlines and spreadsheets and official communication materials, but I’m here on Sunday afternoon, as scheduled, thinking about this project. I’m thrilled with how far I’ve come in these first three and one-half weeks and am proud to share with you that I am working on a book/something proposal and preparing a mystery piece to read at my first ever reading as a [writer]. Nothing really has changed just yet, but I am starting to believe my own truth.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure.
Oh, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Lucky Family! AOT