And I don't know what it's about yet.
Well, she didn't tell me that herself, not to me specifically. But I listened to the first episode of her podcast on Friday of last week, and it might as well have been created for me!
In it, Elizabeth talks to a woman who has a gnawing feeling that she wants to write a book. This woman - I think her name is Erin - has done a lot of things towards this goal. She's had a blog. She's gotten quiet with herself. She's self-aware enough that she knows she is procrastinating, that she knows she's scared of telling her own stories and putting them out there in the world, so she hasn't started yet. She's got a husband and kids, and she feels guilty about going after something that has nothing to do with them, that is only for her.
Elizabeth Gilbert tells her, among lots of other wise things, "You're on the runway, and you're ready for liftoff. If you don't take off now, you'll crash into a bunch of houses on the other side of the runway!"
The runway is everything that led up to this point: It's the years of blogging. It's the practice in writing. It's teaching other people how to do the thing, too. It's giving yourself permission to write. But now it's time for liftoff. It's time to thank the runway, for all it gave you, and then accelerate and fly.
So yesterday, Sunday, after listening to the podcast episode again and writing some of it down in my journal, I decided it was time to begin. Even though I have only a very small idea of what it takes to write a book. Even though I really do not know if I have the stamina to go all the way through with it. Even though fear is shouting All The Things at me. (It's a little bit - no, actually a LOT - like working out and having a fitness goal. Hmmm... more to come on that, I think.) Because you have got to freaking start somewhere. You've got to put on the exercise clothes even though you feel chubby and out of shape, and go anyway.
So I took out my computer. I sat with it in bed. I created a new folder and called it "Book" and put it on my desktop. I opened a new Word document and called it "Part 1". (Part 1 of what? I have no freaking idea. That doesn't matter. Keep going. The file needs a name, so name it something.)
I started typing. I typed for an hour. I wrote 1165 words, in Georgia font, 12-point. 2 pages. I have no idea what of these 1165 words will eventually be printed. Some of them are just me going "Begin." But I did it. I wrote. And as I wrote, thoughts appeared, seemingly out of nothing. The way leaves on a plant in the garden do. Yesterday there was just a little sprout coming out of the dirt. Today there is a leaf. Tomorrow there will be a stem beginning to curl upward, looking for the support to grow on.
Now, an aside: another thing Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in the podcast episode is how there is the book you will write, and then there is the book you will publish. Erin, the gal Elizabeth coaches in the episode, wants to write a book about following her gut even though she's out of practice, re-learning how to follow her instincts. She knows there will be family and personal stories that will she will tell, that will be part of her book, and that that could be difficult, on other people in her family. She doesn't know yet which ones she'll actually want to publish, to print, to have out there in the world for everyone to read.
Elizabeth Gilbert advises her to write it all out anyway, privately. Because there is the book you must write for YOU, and then there is the book you will publish, the parts that you decide get to be printed.
So for now, the book that I'm writing, I'm going to keep it private. I had thought, last week, that I would use this blog space to write the book. That to motivate myself and keep myself accountable, I would write, every day, whatever I want to put in the book. And that may end up being true in a way -- maybe some posts I write here will be used in my book. But the bulk of my writing (I think now, anyway) will be in a Word doc on my computer.
So... how will I publish this? Will I find an agent or an editor? Will I pitch publishers? How will this book actually come into the world? Again, I have no idea yet. The start of a book, I'm finding out, is about faith. It is about saying to yourself, "Yes, I want this thing, this end goal. Yes, I don't know what needs to happen between right now and that goal, specifically (besides, well, writing). But yes, I know the only way to get there is to move forward. Is to accelerate on the runway I've been on for the last few years, and take off."
Because baby, it's time for me to fly.