Happy 2019 friends!
As I write this, an early February snowstorm is swirling outside my window; a casual reminder that winter is still in fact a thing after a confusing January of sunshine and daffodils. I find I’m grateful for the seasonal throwback - I feel a tad bit better about myself when I can pretend that this is a New Year’s post instead of an already-a-month-into-2019 post.
The truth is it is long past time to pop my head up and let you know just where I’ve disappeared to. The good news is that I was not abducted by aliens, nor did I fall in a well or lose my typing fingers in a freak boating accident.
Which Way Next?
The truth is, I entered last summer feeling exhausted by our “miracle move” (turns out miracles can really take it out of you) and stuck in all directions. Every path I contemplated travelling down in my work felt hard and blocked - by fear, by doubt, by uncertainty. Every course of potential action brought me square up against something that required me to change or learn or grow beyond my story of self, my skills, and my comfort zones. I was tired of self-promoting and extroverting and found myself wanting/needing to turn inward for some new source of energy or courage or direction.
Sara Gives in to Life
So, I decided to stop pushing for awhile. Stop forcing. Stop trying to get anywhere in particular and notice where I actually am. I let go and gave myself over to savoring the experience of a particularly poignant summer - hanging out with my daughter in the bittersweet months before her senior year of high school. And then summer turned into a busy fall, supporting the college application process, being witness to the emotional roller coaster that is Senior Year, and realizing that I am not merely a witness of said roller coaster - it is my coaster too, with ups and downs and hairpin turns of grief and excitement and bone-deep hopes for an unknown future. Oh, and in October, I turned 50. Which felt pretty damn poignant too and brought a newly fierce sense of urgency to MOVE on the creative projects that only I can do.
Sara Takes a Questionable Decision
So somewhere in there, I snuck in a decision to commit myself to doing what I’ve known I was meant to do for a really really long time. I committed myself to writing. A book. THE book (as it is known in my head).
The Book is where I’ve always known I was heading with the Creative Constellation project, but couldn’t quite let myself go there for a long time….mostly because I was fully aware that writing books is not a very bright thing to do these days. All the wisdom “out there” suggests that writing books is a highly suspicious enterprise, for all the reasons you can dream of:
Books are an archaic form - why not put out the material in smaller chunks chunk and sell it crumb by crumb and piece by piece, or release it in videos, or in online courses, or in skywriting??
Nobody publishes books written by pre-famous people with no “platform.” (Not the kind you wait on for a train, the kind that includes large numbers of people who are already on board the train of what you do - so much so that they are falling over themselves to buy whatever you are selling, even before it is made. Or at least they remember hearing about you once. You know, something.)
Writing a book without a plan for selling the book is a crummy idea and a waste of time. Writing in fact is only .000001 percent of the work - the rest is all selling all the time in perpetuity, forever. And even then there’s no money in it.
And books with lots of color graphics (like mine) are expensive to produce and probably cost-prohibitive for self-publishing
That’s a lot of wisdom. All of it probably true more or less.
But after years of attempting to figure out how to avoid The Book, or channel my energy for it into other pathways, I wasn’t getting anywhere but fragmented and frustrated and sad. The problem is:
I Can’t Not Write this Book.
It needs to be created through me - there’s no one else to do it. And it needs to be all-of-a-piece - it is a whole offering made of interlocking parts that all come to life in relationship to each other.
The workshops and webinars I’ve done along the way were essential for helping me know how to talk about the Creative Constellation material in ways that real actual people can take hold of and make sense of. (A huge thanks to all of you who have participated so far - you provided examples and language that are enriching the book enormously!)
But starting last Fall I had to face the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to keep promoting my online courses AND stay with my day job AND turn 50 and watch my daughter prepare to head off to college AND write the book. So, I cut out teaching for awhile and narrowed the focus of my non-wage earning, non-mothering, non-art-making focus to the book. And I thought it might be done by the end of the year. Hah.
Sara Allows for the Reality of Time and Hard Work.
As 2018 wound down, I re-outlined the book, and made some much more realistic estimates of the time this endeavor will really take. Realistically, it will take a lot of time. Probably through all of this year. I’m writing most days early in the morning - my “first shift” before moving on to paying work and life work, and it feels great when I do and very awful when I don’t.
I wish I liked myself better when I’m writing. I wish I wasn’t as whiny and resistant and impatient. I wish writing didn’t take suck so much energy out of me that I’m drooping by afternoon and ready for bed at 9 pm. I wish writing didn’t occupy my brain in such an annoying way, taking up permanent residence so that I’m never NOT writing, even when it appears to the untrained eye that I’m on hour three of a “Say Yes to the Dress” marathon. (Don’t judge. Those people are NUTS and very entertaining!)
But, I’m doing my best to put up with my lesser angels and focus on celebrating incremental progress and the undeniable satisfaction of having done My Work on days when I move it forward. I’m choosing to trust that there is an audience for this work and that this work will find its way to them by hook or by crook. But I have to write it first. So, fuck the wisdom. I’m writing the book.
What about teaching???
But, I also miss all y’all, and I realize it is good for me to be teaching and coaching along the way - just in managable doses. So, I’ve put together a teaching schedule focused on face-to-face workshops here on Whidbey Island which you’ll find on the Classes page. You’ll also get updates about them in the Saltee Goodness Newsletter, which I’m going to return to as a monthly offering.
My word of the year?
As in the fruition of many many years of work that have led up to this book. As in the coming into being of the work, and of the version of myself who is ready to stand up for it. As in my daughter’s readiness to take the first independent steps toward growing her own fruitful life.
Whatever your word for the year is, may it inspire you to keep moving in the direction of your aliveness. (And for god’s sake, take more than one word if you need it. Take a handful. That shit is free.)
As Ever, Gratitude
I’m soooo grateful to those of you who have written to ask if I’m OK - thank you for noticing my absence! I’m going to try to pop up at least monthly to say hi and share something from my art-making or coaching worlds. And wish me well, because this writing business is hard and nerve-wracking.
In fact, I can’t help but reflect that twenty-something years ago, I became a creativity coach to try to understand why writing is so hard, and to amass a toolkit of ways to manage the pain of it. As I engage in the writing of The Book, I find that it mostly boils down to:
Have a project you believe in more than you doubt yourself,
Keep Going, and
Restart every time you stop.
Oh, and let yourself feel supported. You may feel alone, but you are not. As one smart guy said,
“Although I am a typical loner in my daily life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has prevented me from feelings of isolation.” - Albert Einstein
Thanks to you all for being part of my invisible community - and for all you are doing in your own way of striving for what is good and meaningful and right. I see you.