This isn’t working.
On the fifth Thursday of July, I was supposed to be giving a progress report on the writing of my latest book. But I really don’t have any progress to report. This post is even a day late.
The plan was to start writing my first draft at the beginning of May. Well, that was my first failure. I didn’t do any writing on it for the entire month. June came and I got some progress done in the way of a basic, minimal structure/layout. July came and I wrote a few chapters.
Worse, I don’t think I’ll be using those chapters. I don’t even think I will be using the idea that was begun in those first chapters. Worst of all, these several chapters are ones that I had written several times before in previous years.
I’m going around in circles.
This is what I have always done when I try to write my life story!
What’s my problem?
I don’t want to write this book. I’ve never wanted to write this book. That’s the problem.
But I need to write this book. I need to, because I have promised that I will write this book. I promised, because my family and friends want me to write this book.
Shouldn’t I be willing to do something for the sake of others, even if that something is hard and undesirable? Isn’t that what love is? Isn’t that the main thrust of Christianity?
Heavy, heavy sigh.
I’ve always said that I have high self-esteem. And I do. But I’m not really liking myself right now. That is, I’m not liking this particular inability of mine, this block, this bugaboo. I can sit down and write pages about anything. I don’t have writer’s block. I can even sit down and write some nonsense about my life story. Which is probably what I should do, I just don’t have the heart. I don’t have the will.
What is this bugaboo?!?
I don’t know. But I better figure it out soon.
Not a novel writer
One thought that has entered my mind is that I’m not meant to write novels. Now I know that novels are fictitious and a memoir certainly is not. However, I’m trying to tell the story of “me” in a kind of story form, that is, with character, plot, and descriptions that bring scenes to life. I’ve written several short works of fiction, but never a long one, never a book. Writing a story — even a true one — in book form may simply be too daunting for me. Too far beyond my reach.
I’m limited. We all are. Maybe I’m coming up against my limitations on this one. Maybe I need to change the format of this book. I prefer thinking of it as my conversion story well padded. So maybe I need to let it be exactly that. And perhaps the padding should come in the form of reflections, not chapters in a story, but moments of time that have meaning to me (as well as to the readers, hopefully), and are intimately relevant to my journey of faith.
In other words, maybe I shouldn’t be writing the exact book that my loved ones want me to write.
But isn’t that letting them down? Isn’t that thinking about myself instead of them again? It might just be. But it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve let people down. It certainly won’t be the first time that my limitations have caused a reassessment of what’s possible, a change of expectations.
I’m too little to live up to great expectations. And I think I’m falling beneath the weight.
A memoir is very trying
Another problem is that this is not a simple case of a writing project in need of a rethink. This is me coming up against every bugaboo that I’ve ever had in my life, every disappointment, every self-loathing, every doubt, every fear, every suffering, every failure. Memory is tricky and my own thoughts about myself are tiresome. Some secrets want to remain secret and some truths are too difficult, perhaps too pain-causing to share. Why did I make the decisions that I made in my life? And how did I get myself to this place in my life, and is this place really where I should be? The question of how did it all began naturally leads to the question of how will it all end. And I don’t really want to answer these questions.
I don’t want to do this.
But I’ve been too much of a baby in my life. Others have always let me take the easier way and I have been glad to do so. If I cannot do this, then did I really convert? If I cannot write about my journey of faith, then what does that say about my faith?
You see that I have scant limitation when it comes to words to spew out, words about nothing. I’m good at that. Blah blah blah.
It’s Good to Be Here
For as long as I can remember, I have been told that I am an inspiration.
I don’t feel very inspiring.
The first book that I wrote was written from my best moments. I shared the good that I had to share. Even when I dug deep and exposed wounds and fears and dreams unfulfilled, I always did so in the light of what I knew to be good, true, and beautiful. There was always a moral to my story, a lesson to be learned, a bright side, a healing. And, yes, I admit, that’s pretty inspiring. Recently, I reread my book in order to gain inspiration. I know that they are my words, and I know that they are the truth of my life, but, as I said, they are words written from the best moments of my life, when God was helping me to see the clearest truth.
And that’s simply not the story of my whole life. That’s not even the whole story of my conversion.
I’m a mess.
And I’m having a hard time being open to inspiration.
Perhaps if I can write this book without thinking of you, dear reader, or of my family and friends ever reading it, maybe then I can write it.
Hmmm, let’s try that.
(Please say a little prayer for me, and please bug me about my progress! But maybe don’t ask until September. 🙂 )
© 2021 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.