I wonder if putting a book out into the world is not unlike joining a ship? There is a great deal of unknown about joining the ship. You might have an idea and some expectations of what the voyage is going to be like, but until the voyage begins, and you are there, in it experiencing it, moment by moment, you really can’t accurately predict what will happen. You make voyage plans based on the route, destination, weather forecast, cargo, regulatory consideration etc., but no matter how much you plan, there can be detours. The ship might breakdown, a crewmember may get sick – the ship might be forced into a port because of a storm, or it might run smack into the storm and everyone just hangs on for dear life, literally.
Sometimes that happens while writing, doesn’t it? Sometimes, you makes notes and plans and you sit down and you write exactly what you think you are going to write. But sometimes, as you write, as you are in it, something unexpected happens. A new thought. A feeling in your gut. An idea flashes in your brain, and before you know it, you are scurrying down a path to follow those new words, new thoughts, new ideas…like a detour. And then maybe you find your back to your original course.
Or, other times, you run straight into a fierce storm. As you are writing, you hit this absolute wild onslaught of words that hits you smack in the face. This was not on your radar. You were not going to write about this. This storm was not even in the forecast. But there you are, and you can’t escape it. All you can do is hang on for dear life and face the storm head on. Let the words flow onto the page. Just let it happen. And as you do your best to stay steady, you may find that the deeper you can go into the words, into the thoughts, into the storm, the better you will feel when you come out the other side.
On ships, we used to hit squalls all the time – where the ship would heal over, water would rush under the rails and up to our knees, we would have to work very quickly to make sure that the ship (and the crew) would survive the storm. But the nastier the storm, and the harder it was to make it through, the better it felt when we did make it through. When the wind died down, and the rain stopped, and we could pull off our rain gear, and see the storm behind us, and maybe even a rainbow ahead – that always felt so good. When I write, sometimes things crop up that I really had no idea would crop up. And all I can do is face them, head on. Dive in. And the deeper I dive, wow, the better I feel when I come up for a breath of fresh air.
When you join a ship, you really don’t know what the voyage is going to be like. As I said, you can make plans and predictions, but there is a massive amount of trust that goes into the voyage. You have to trust in yourself. You have to trust in your crew-members. You have to trust in the ship.
As I work towards the first book of mine, wow, I am scared. I can have the best-laid plans for my writing and this book. But, there is a whole lot of trust that I am working on here. I have to trust myself. And I have to trust in the universe that whatever is supposed to happen with this book, will happen. I can hope and want, but at the end of the day, not all of it is under my control.
When I think that is too much to ask – I remind myself. I may never have written a book before. But I have faced many unknowns. I have joined many ships and set off upon the ocean with nothing but a desire for adventure, and a whole lot of trust and faith in this world. I may not be going any further than my office at home to write this book, but it sure feels like I’m heading back out onto the ocean, for the next chapter.