Well, surprise. Writing a book is hard. Who knew? Not I.
I did know, or at least I had an inkling, but I had promised myself I wouldn’t make it hard, that I would have fun with it, that I would embrace! the! process!
And I did, for a bit, the embracing. And then I promptly forgot my promise and had a few nervous breakdowns over the course of six months. You know me and ambiguity. We’re not on the most benevolent of terms, and writing a book is the most ambiguous thing I’ve done. Putting words together where there were no words before? Scare scare.
But what happened next is the part I didn’t expect.
With every breakdown, there was a buildup.
The buildups didn’t come from the same person. A few sent encouraging texts here and there. Others sent emails. One sent merlot, and she has since been elevated to first class friend status, at least on my plane. (Sidenote: Also on my plane, all flight attendants are enlisted to wear sweat pants. Comfy over chic, I think this is how the saying goes?)
What writing a book taught me most wasn’t the importance of words, or experience, or creativity. What writing a book taught me most was the importance of the village, the necessity of those smiling portraits lining your hallway, your albums, your phone’s camera roll.
They’re worth fighting for, these faces.
They’re worth framing, too.
If there’s anything in my life that’s more ambiguous than book writing, it’s friendship. It’s hard in the way that we all want a great friend, but that means we have to be a great friend, which requires (a) time and (b) effort, and most of us don’t have a surplus of either.
My time and effort quota these days has been earmarked for (a) toddler and (b) husband, although not necessarily in that order.
Where do friends fit? The great kind? The kind from the movies, at the diner at 2am, crying into your cold coffee cups?
I don’t know if I’ll ever have the movie kind of friendship, but I have the good kind. And sometimes I catch myself thinking that, maybe, perhaps, it’s a tiny bit likely that if we keep trucking in this general direction – if we keep texting each other weird memes and swapping recipes and making tissue paper garlands for approximately one million childrens’ birthday parties – maybe someday we’ll wind up in the diner.
Baby steps, I think.
A few of these good friends landed squarely in the pages of my book. They said something profound when I needed to hear it, or they taught me something valuable I probably should have already known. Pause: A special shout out to the sweet friend who, when Bee was eight months old, taught me my stroller could be folded (what?!) to fit into my car (whatttt?!) and then UNFOLDED when said destination is reached (whaaaaaaaaattttt?!). Modernity, man. Who knew?
This particular example didn’t make it into the book, I think because most people already figured this out on their own? Maybe? But a thousand other examples did.
Like how to show up for your life. How to show up for someone else’s life. How to rise above the circumstances you can’t control, and the ones you can but shouldn’t. How to know the difference between the two. How to bite your tongue. How to parent with grace. How to offer love.
How to accept it.
This month, I mocked up a few of my friends’ lessons from the book to share with them. We’re still in the editing stages and I don’t have advance copies yet, but there are so many words influenced by these women, and I wanted to thank them before the moment passed. Gratitude needs no hard cover, no publishing date, no book tour.
It doesn’t need printed.
But sometimes, it needs framed.
I uploaded the mock pages to Framebridge and waited a short week for beautifully framed versions of my words. And as I wrapped, tied and hand-delivered each with a hug and a smile, I realized I didn’t need the diner and the tears, the movie style girlfriends.
I’ve got something else blooming – something different, something lovely, something beautiful.