On the last day of our holiday we walk to Salt River. It’s the boys’ first big-real-proper hike. Scott (3) brims elated: ‘I can do anything now ‘cause I so brave!’ Cam (6) muses serious: ‘I think I’m ready for the Otter Trail.’ Murray says this magic hidden beach would make a super cool pirate cove.
I can almost hear the hum of Cam’s imaginings.
All the way back – over mountain – through forest – he plans the story he’ll write. He tells me about the books he’ll make and the pages he’ll fill with adventure. He says he’ll sell them to everyone, ‘and then, Mom, I’ll be a real author like you!’
His ignorance flatters. His confidence inspires. He has no cynicism. No doubt. No knowledge of how many piranhas there are in the Amazon or how his sweet pirates will be eaten alive in the tributaries never mind make it to the waters of mainstream publishing.
He has just the simple, stalwart, why-ever-not faith of a child.
Back at the house, he does it. Writes the book. Plans the distribution. Guy Kawasaki would be proud. Clambering over rocks to secret sands has given him a story to tell. So he tells it – to share it – to make the world a little more beautiful.
And I’m thinking, isn’t that what it is to be a writer? Isn’t that what it is to be any kind of dreamer? We dream dreams because we believe them. Because they excite us. Because we can’t not. We don’t dream to impress. That’s not dreaming. That’s just ego.
But for weeks the fear has been eating me ravenous. I fret and ramble angst to Murray on the beach because what if this book I’m writing is a total flop? What if I sell, like, two copies (to my mom)?
I just have to walk into a room and Murray thinks I’m a roaring success. He doesn’t need me to write a book. But he hears my fears and says I should define what success looks like for me, for this book. Will I measure it in copies sold or given away? Money made? Reviews written? Contracts signed?
If I’m crazy-honest about success? I’d love to write a New York Times bestseller. I’d love to find myself on a TED stage. Because on this small spinning planet, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. Statistically, neither is likely. But statistically, neither is impossible. And if everything we hoped for was both likely and possible, life would be too safe, too dull, too dreamless.
And I know where to look for that kind of brave. Ann said it just the other day. She said, ‘It’s really your ugly pride that makes you afraid. Just bow in humility – and you’ll rise up in courage.’ She said, ‘Wear humility because really what is the worst that can happen? Courage for the impossible can only be found in the possibility of humility.’
So I tell myself what I’ve been telling myself all year – that obedience is the goal. The end result. The tick of success. Did God say, write this book? Then, um, write this book. Worship, I tell myself, in spirit and truth. Trust God for wisdom. Ask him to arrest my heart to want to want to honour only him. Surrender my flaws. Cling to his perfection. Let every sentence be a yes to truth, excellence and beauty.
Then, when my dream turns to book? There might be wild cheering. There might be awkward silence. (Expect for the thwack-drip of egg on face.) But for sure, there will be satisfaction, and cosmic success.
. . .
So, friend, I’m about four months away, God willing, from bringing out Dragons and dirt. I oscillate erratically between excitement and blind terror. So if God ever brings me to mind while you’re driving or cooking or closing a deal? I would so appreciate prayer. And really, I can’t wait to bring you this book. You are the people of my journey.
The beautiful bestselling author of Surprised by motherhood, Lisa-Jo Baker, is writing the foreword for me, because we share some history and because she’s awesome like that. The lovely, sublimely talented Christelle de Vries is illustrating the front cover and chapter title pages. Oh. My. Word. Yay!
But lots still has to happen. I’m reworking the last four chapters. Then begins the final edit – and re-edit – and the edit-some-more. I also have to navigate the jungles around the mighty Amazon, and decide which trees to cut down for kindling and which to turn into paper so that you can e-read or real-read and re-plant the trees, anywhere in the world.
As ever, comments (and help and suggestions and coffee) are very welcome. Thanks for reading.