Today, I finally completed the Big Scary Project I'd been thinking about for over a year. I'm part of a group called The Young Clergywomen Project, and we have a section of that project which partners with Chalice Press, meaning that we can submit book proposals.
I started thinking up the idea for a book over a year ago. But because it was partly grounded in a life situation which was constantly in flux, and because I'm the age that I am, and because I did not want to be the pretentious hipster who writes a memoir at 35, I dithered and dithered for over a year.
Finally, at a conference this summer, in a workshop, I let the idea go into the wild. And since then, there have been multiple conversations and scenarios which convinced me that the book I was thinking of had some real application and need. So I took my drafts and notes and worked them into a proposal.
Which then sat on my computer from July until now. So I plunked myself down at a coffeeshop (a secret one on Capitol Hill that my mentor and friend introduced me to. Seriously, if I ever worked at that church, it would be because the church is awesome AND because this shop was right down the road). I wrote and tidied and spell checked and standardized margins and finally saved it once-and-for-all...
And then decided I would let it sit for a few more hours or days or maybe a week until I could check it over again.
But then I thought, "why, self, why?" If this thing was truly something I was being called and motivated to do, and if it was timely and if it's really relevant like I am making an argument for, why wouldn't I send it?
Fear? Was I really going to let shyness and fear and the nagging conviction that I'm really not good enough to do this stop the email? It's just the first step after all. And now it goes into committee. And I know this press wants us, but they will not let a lousy book go out, so I don't have to fear that I will let bad work out into the wild.
No, I was just fear filled. Because I'm an extroverted introvert- I love being around people and talking and keeping up a prattle, but I am an expert on keeping things light and surface depth. My CPE groups used to bemoan how I would never really share deeply or "go deeper" into an issue. So the idea of spending an entire book "going deeper" with what could be hundreds or thousands of readers...? Terrifying!
Also terrifying? Knowing that if this gets accepted, that we will have to share more details about a very painful and sad time in our lives.
Also terrifying? Knowing that there will be folks out there- some will be jealous, others will be contemptuous- who will make unkind remarks about me and my work. I will not have uniformly kind and constructive critics, and I know that if this becomes a real book, there will be people who will openly disparage my work and my experience.
That is scary, indeed.
But I thought about it, and I decided I would never really know the truth if I never sent it out to begin with. The work was done for right now, and waiting another week or another day or another hour wouldn't change anything except for me to find another comma subtract or another sentence to reword. And those of us who create know that you can do those sorts of tweaks for ever and ever, and never really finish.
It was time to be finished with this part of the work.
So I opened up the email program, attached my file, and hit send. Off it goes into the wild world of committees. Bye bye, baby bird book proposal!
PS- to answer questions:
First, it gets read by the committee. They may say yes, or they may say no.
If they say yes, it goes to the Press we work with.
THEY may say yes, and enter into a contract with me, and I get to WORK.
They may say maybe, and ask for the right of first refusal. In which case I write the book, and give them a completed manuscript, and when it's done, they decide if they will publish it. The last TYCWP book was completed under this option, and it's FABULOUS.
They may say no, in which case I go home and make a double martini and huddle on the couch for a week.