I started work in earnest on book #3 last week, with all the accompanying, terrifying feelings of a big, new project with a big, scary deadline.
You can’t do this, the nagging, doubting feelings say. The last ones were just a fluke. You can’t write. Good luck turning a manuscript in by spring. Goooooood luck.
You’re probably familiar with these feelings, too. They show themselves whenever we embark on something uncertain or challenging or just a little bit out of our comfort zones, grabbing our attention like nagging injuries we thought we’d overcome.
Yet there’s something different between the start of this book and the last. This time I have a community of writers around me. Friends, colleagues, critique partners, beta readers. Fellow authors I can text in the middle of the night when panic sets in or ideas just won’t come. Also, there’s Twitter, which has a pretty stinking fun writer’s community filled with cheerleaders.
It’s like having access to the Bat Signal, but better.
When I began writing, I largely kept to myself. After college with its mandatory critique-groups and late night poetry readings, I retreated into my introvert’s turtle shell and polished my craft alone.
Part of it was my natural love of solitude–I just plain old don’t understand people who need to be in crowds or enjoy raucous outings. But part of it went deeper still. I feared competitiveness, scarcity, even undermining. I didn’t think my work was good enough, not really, but I wanted to strengthen it alone rather than expose it to the harsh light of others’ opinions.
I was afraid there might not be enough room for me in the writing world at all.
Yet slowly but surely I began to meet other writers, more established writers, who treated me not as a threat or a challenger but a fellow laborer in the world of creativity and ideas and Gospel.
“Join my writing group,” said one.
“I’ll send you an invitation to the critique session,” said another.
People whose words I’d read and respected for years offered me an endorsement, wrote me a foreword, offered help with an outline, gave feedback on a chapter.
A new friend from Twitter invited me to a live, online interview with one of my favorite authors of all time. (I’m still glowing after that one. Hoo boy.) Another sent me a five-pound bag of gummy worms in the homestretch of my book launch.
Companions on the journey have changed everything.
Now, when the voices of negativity rise in my mind, when I wonder how I can do this, if I can do this, whether my words will be enough, I send a text or an email, I post in a critique group, I call a friend for prayer and suddenly, I’m not alone.
You can do this, they say. We are with you.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in John 10:10, one of my favorite passages of Scripture:
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, says Jesus, but I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.
In a world of scarcity, where the enemy tells us there is never enough and that we are never enough, Jesus comes and says, “There is more than enough.”
Then he invites us to offer this abundance to one another. With Jesus and because of Jesus there is always enough. In our grief, in our struggle, in our celebration, in our joy, God has given us to each other to share his abundance.
If you’re embarking on something big this fall–a creative project, a writing task, sending a child to kindergarten for the first time, facing a scary diagnosis, you name it–I’d love to pray for you. You’re not alone.
And here’s to abundance, and to the God who offers it to us all.