The Book I'm Not Writing


Even as I type that out it sounds as if I'm in complete control. That I'm turning down the book deal of the century, forgoing my east-coast interview travels, in leu of a higher purpose. However you want to spin it, it sounds better if it's put on my terms. Wrapped up tidy and set on a shelf.

Only it's not.

I began writing the story of our large family (14 children, two parents) last year and it was so well received that I took the suggestion of many to write a full fledged book. Because I'm an off-the-charts-perfectionist in some areas and I don't believe in doing anything important halfway, I perched glasses on my face, hung around the library a lot more, and planned my 2014 to revolve around penning this memoir. Steven and I decided I would take a year off of my paying jobs, we would move back to the east coast, I would travel New England to conduct my interviews, continue to live simply and minimally in our SC house, and maybe have a baby towards the end of the year. I didn't seek out a publisher or pitch my story. I wanted to present my blood-sweat-and-tear-stained manuscript to a publisher written the way I wanted it to be written, on my terms. 

I set up my first interview, packed my voice recorders, and traveled with the kids to a little farm in Missouri back in February. It was all very poetic and just as I had imagined a book writing journey goes, minus the morning sickness and the fact I was parenting alone. But I did wear my glasses. We moved back to the east coast, as planned, and Steven took a job in Atlanta, GA (sort of planned). I traded morning sickness for pitch forks and paint brushes as we tried to get this SC house on the market, pep talking my way through the entire process. I told myself the book would still happen...I'm strong...a fighter for my dreams...I might have even gone so far as to tell myself I was carrying the torch for every mother out there who still wanted to accomplish something big while wiping up accidents in the bathroom. I'm a huge proponent of positive thinking, but sometimes I think I mask the truth God is trying to get ahold of me with while I'm Polyannying myself in the shower.

Deep down, life was shifting.

A quick browse on Pinterest and you'll see a plethora of quotes about living your dreams and tackling your goals - in all their annoying glory. The stage is set to look as if it's all up to us, we just need to work hard and make it happen in a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sort of way. For a society trying to get away from black and white, we embrace it in convenient places. Eating up the quotes as we go.

Now I realize I'm about to enter my third trimester, I found a disgusting palmetto bug minutes ago on our kitchen counter, and I may have had one too many iced lattes today, but humor me for a moment: glamorizing the struggle and the conquer is our American version of heroism. At its' finest. And it can be misleading. For what do we do with the hikes that end two miles before the peak? How do we find peace with stories that never get written? Are their goals and dreams that should never be conquered, never be realized?

That all sounds very un-american-dreamish, no?

I had a completely different post in mind than the one I'm currently writing. I was going to complain and tell you all what a hard year it's been, how I've taken up my cross daily and made sacrifices to pursue my book writing dreams.How I could write this book, but circumstances out of my control tell me I should not be the one writing it. But it all sounded way too much like Pinterest quotes, and not enough like real life, that I threw up before I even typed it.

The truth is, It's easier to take control of our own destiny, through sheer grit and determination, than to leave it up to a God you can't see with an unknown outcome. It's our terms. Me, myself, and I. And we celebrate that version of control with pins all over Pinterest. But sometimes, I think we black and white a very gray thing. Sometimes, we try to make things work even after a few months into "the plan" and we're getting subtle messages from God to give up. Lose control. Stop trying to bargain. Sometimes we blame other people, however warranted, to lessen the blow of dreams going up in smoke. And sometimes, we just plain wrestle and cry with clenched fists until we're exhausted and can't fight anymore. Not the celebrated fight of a foot plodding in front of the other, but the humble lift of our feet off the ground completely and the jumping into the haven of Jesus' arms.

And that's a hard pill to swallow, especially when you've dedicated your year to writing a book that will not see the light of day.

It's unglamorous. Unromantic. And there are no heroics involved. No book to bring to the publisher and nothing to add to our Linkedin profile when it's all said and done.  Just us sitting on the lap of Jesus with more battle wounds, scars, and lessons learned. A little bit richer, a little bit refined.

There is a book in me to be written, I do feel that. It won't be the original book I planned on writing, and it won't be in the timing I had hoped, but it'll be done when it's supposed to be done. And I'm relieved and sad all at the same time to finally be typing that out.

Life moves on.

(That's probably on Pinterest somewhere too. ;) )

Mary BethComment