Pretty much everyone who blogs is writing a book. Everyone I know, at least. Some are writing fiction, some are writing collections of essays, a couple are writing children's books.
Most of us, however, are writing memoirs. We are writing about ourselves, our lives, our children and our spouses.
Because that's what we write about on our blogs. OUR LIVES.
Our lives are all so different. And somehow, in some ways, they are so alike. We are moms, and dads, and women and men. We have cats. Dogs. Jobs. Homes.
Some of us are rich, some are not. Some of us wrestle with demons, some of us cuddle with serendipity.
We all have stories.
Ever since I started writing here, I've heard it. At first, it was from friends...which made perfect sense because those were the only people who read my stories. And when friends tell you, "Hey, you should write a book!" you take it kind of like they've told you "No, those pants don't make you look fat! You look beautiful!"
Your friends love you. Everything you do, say, wear...or write, is tinted by their love and affection for you. Kind of like moms and their kids, you know? How many of you have looked at a scribbly crayon-drenched note and felt your insides melt at its beauty?
It's a whole 'nother thing when strangers enter the picture and start telling you, "Hey, you should write a book!"
That's when you start to think: Hmm. Maybe this is something I can do. Maybe there really is a book inside of me!
And so you start thinking. Writing. Plotting.
In my case, what I've heard over and over is, "I started reading your blog and couldn't stop." "I started at the beginning and when I got to the end I wanted more!" "I was so sad when I got to the end!".
People, mostly women, send me emails telling me their stories. Stories about husbands gone wild, about sad kids, about the comical first post-divorce dates. And their stories about financial struggles, about hopelessness and trying to find the strength to get through the crappiest of times. I read every single one of them, and each one holds me firmly in its grip long after the words have flitted by my eyes.
We all have stories.
I thought it would be easy. I thought it was just a matter of gathering up the posts I've written which have garnered the most response. The posts that have made people laugh, cry, get mad. I thought it would be just that easy.
One of you, one of my dear readers, stepped forward and wanted to help. "Let me edit for you" she proffered. Edit? Be still my wanna-be writer's heart. Someone out there thought I was editor worthy! This splendid woman took my "manuscript", my collections of essays and posts which had been separated into their own little collections ("Before the Divorce" "The Kids" "Dating", etc.) and polished it up. She took on the massive job of correcting my woeful grammar, my apostrophe abuse, my chronic overuse of ellipsis.
I began to look forward to her emails, wondering if she liked what she'd read, if she thought I'd done good. We writers are a weird lot, you know. Kind of like puppies who just want reassurance that yes, yes, yes, you're a good girl! You're such a good girl!
And she did tell me I'm a good girl. I mean, writer. She brought up issues with tense, wondered whether or not some of what I had deemed as integral to my story was really that integral. She questioned me and praised me and then one miraculous day, she sent me the revised, complete manuscript. I looked at the little paperclip icon thingie, and the words "complete manuscript" in the subject line.
It was terrifying. I put off reading it, for several days. It was Thanksgiving, after all, and besides having to cook 50 pounds of potatoes (I was in charge of starches this year), we also had a hockey tournament. I took a few vacation days in order to set aside some WRITERY TIME.
Today was my WRITERY TIME. I sat down this morning, and cracked it open. I read it.
And guess what? I don't like it. I hated not liking it. It felt as though I had posed for a picture, thought I was looking good, thought "This picture will be so awesome!" and then seeing the finished product and immediately noticing every single flaw. Every wrinkle, every blemish, every hair out of place.
I read it and I thought to myself, Nobody will want to read this. I'm actually embarrassed that I thought this was good enough to be a book. And, WTF was I thinking?
I thought to myself: I hate this.
I wrote to my dear, sweet editor. "I hate it!" I told her.
And then, because I'm me, I hastily wrote back:
"I don't hate your editing! That was awesome! I can't write. My writing sucks. I gave you a pile of goo and asked you to try and shape it into something readable..which you did, but MY WRITING SUCKS."
Because this chick, this reader, this lovely and kind woman, she's good at what she does. Not only is she good at it, she loves doing it. And it shows.
So I spent the better part of my Writery Day feeling insecure. Feeling foolish and stupid and so naively optimistic. I watched a couple episodes of my latest Netflix obsession (for the love of God, a Canadian cop show called Flashpoint...copy that, boss) and shared my woes with some of my writery friends.
I mentally broke up with my book, the tome I had so lovingly labored over and had named "What To Do When Your Husband Leaves You". I decided that maybe I didn't have a book in me after all, and that maybe all I'm cut out to be is an unknown blogger who sometimes writes things that people read.
And I was okay with that. For a minute. Then, I had a talk with my son.
My sweet, smart, wise-beyond-his-years son, Charlie. The kid who has gone through so much, who is en route to adulthood at a dizzying pace. Charlie and I bounce things off of each other. We talk about our hopes and our dreams and give each other encouragement. We also give each other shit when applicable.
"Charlie" I started. "Oh man. I'm feeling really icky today, son."
He sat down next to me, all muscles and height and that little boy face.
"What's wrong, mom?" he asked me, genuinely concerned.
I sighed. Picked at the last egg roll on the plate we'd shared.
"I don't think I can write a book, Charlie. I think it's not meant to be." I blurted this out, finally admitting it, finally saying out loud what I'd been thinking all day long.
Charlie scoffed. He stood up, folded his arms and scoffed again. And then he said:
"If you give up on this, I will never forgive you." And then, for good measure, he added:
"Seriously. Like, I will literally never forgive you. And you'll never forgive yourself."
Well, shoot. How can this kid be so smart?
He's right, of course.
If I give up on this, I will never forgive myself.
So I put on my big girl panties. I looked at the manuscript again, only this time, I looked at it with less critical eyes. I looked at it the way we moms look at those crayoned love notes from our babes. I looked past the obvious flaws, the garishness, the crudeness. I looked through all that, and you know what I saw?
I saw my book.
It's in there. And it's beautiful.