“Clarity” — great insights from a Writing Club member

in Articles from our Newsletter


Today, I found out that my book needs to be done for my third-year/mid-career review, 11 months from now. “As close to being done as possible” is an option there in the wings, but if I want to take my place in this department, it needs to be done and to represent the very, very best work I can do. THEN the senior faculty put a jaw-dropping amount of time and intellectual engagement and discussion and writing into critiquing what I’ve given them (my book, as best I can conceive it), and THEN I write a better book.

This knowledge, while terrifying, has brought with it an amazing amount of clarity:

  1. My book needs me. It needs my heart and mind and time. It literally will not exist without me. And I want more than anything for it to exist.
  2. This is not a game. I can play games on myself all the live-long day, but not with the writing, not with the book. I have worked long and hard for this, given many years, garnered the investments of many brilliant people. It’s not time to toy with this; it’s not a spinning top for me to scuttle along the floor.
  3. I need a plan. I need a reasoned and reasonable plan. Builders don’t show up with their tools and “see what happens.” I need to see it, like rolling out a blue-print — to see how I will get from my dissertation to my powerful book. This is not an open-ended, ad-hoc process.
  4. I have to trust myself. This is the only way I can keep moving forward. Enough with the second-guessing and fretting and re-wording every last word. The one and only way to push through the static is to trust myself.
  5. What wants me can’t claim me. There is no limit on what others want of me, or what I want of and for myself. But my resources are limited. I cannot allow my own or other people’s desires to claim me, because I have this important work to do. Right now this work seems private, but it will make me who I want to be.
  6. Other people need to see my work. Regardless of whether I have real misgivings or if I just cannot manage my calendar, the work still needs exposure. This is not strategic, but substantive. Every time I share my work, it gets better. And it needs and deserves to get better.
  7. To everything there is a season. This year is the season for this book to come into bloom. I have to take care of it, I have to nurture and cultivate it, but its nature is to bloom, and this is its season.

Okay guys. I put this out here, and it’s a risk because I believe it all — deeply — but I also know I need support. Even to remember it, I need support. Thank God I signed up for the long haul.



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