11 Lessons From Writing A Book
“Writing is hard for every last one of us… Coal…
Last week I drafted a post that talked about how contentment and future questions and all that stuff was on hold as with only a couple weeks left everything was simple – there was only one thing left to do. Then I backtracked because approaching the finish, doubts and questions are actually churning away more than they ever have. This is one of those posts where I held off and held off and didn’t push the button. Wasn’t sure why. Then this video came along ↧ (link), and Neil Gaiman sums up the fear:
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
So let’s try it.
“It reaffirmed that I could do anything I put my 100 percent effort into. When I got back, I felt like I could move the world.”
I read this article months ago straight after finishing the section from Florida to California. It’s about Jackie Loza’s ride down the West Coast of the US. She was let go from her job and her trip was a way to figure out the next move.* And because of that it was more than a bike trip – it was a time that real decisions were made. Decisions that influenced where she is right now.
After the ride she described feeling like she could “move the world”. You know when you read something or watch something or hear something and can’t get it out of your head? I’ve thought about that article ever since. Finishing the ride across the southern tier, I could totally relate to the moving the world thing. You get into trouble or have a bad day, you fix it. At the end of each day you know it’s been a good day. That adds up and over time really makes you think that much bigger things are possible and that hurdles are made for crushing.
To end the trip there maybe would have been ‘the sensible option’. It would have been a euphoric end, all highs. The cross country trip had been a success. Mountains would have been quivering at the thought of getting moved. Just kidding. But of course that stretch marked a small part of this overall journey. Reaching the Pacific, I thought – if you feel this bold / upbeat after three months, jeez, imagine what it will be like after 6 or 9. This is gonna be rad.
But it’s not like a 45 degree graph where the good keeps rising. It rose to 90 days and then the ruler stopped working or the drawer got bored and decided to start a squiggle-spree. It hits the top of the page then the bottom, bottom then top. As the weeks and months go on you go from empowerment / bring it on, to fuck this / what a loser, back to mountain moving / boulder lifting in this bizarre cycle of being confident and determined, to having no confidence and wanting to hide in a cave for 10 years, back to being stoked.
I could relate to Jackie using the trip as a vehicle to make big decisions. Over time, especially after a long day pedalling, your mind clears and you begin to slot pieces together. If I do x then maybe y will become a possibility.
In those high ‘move the world’ moments everything seems amazing, really like anything is possible. Like the cards on the table going forward shine more than they ever have before. Nothing is intimidating.
And then on the down days I’ve felt literally sick about time spent away, debt and potential irresponsibility (the trip was originally meant to be 6-9 months), and whether there were opportunities left behind. But so many of the people I’ve spoken to started by going all in and taking a shot, taking a risk in the hope that opportunities down the line would bring more value than staying still. I should remember to cling on to that.
I haven’t got the faintest idea what happens next. It’s kind of wide open. Some days that’s a scary thing, and other days it’s really invigorating, despite the questions that sometimes kick in.
But we all have doubts – whether what we’re doing is what we should really be doing. That’s natural. And those questions are good, because they make you think and possibly change.
The cliche’s are true – journeys like this do open your eyes. In tough ways and in the best ways.
My head’s all over the place at the moment, processing the end of a bizarre year. How squiggly can a graph get in five days?
Today, the thought of finishing this thing is strangely nerve wracking. There’s an anxiety there for sure.
Tomorrow might be completely different – it has a tendency to be. Holla’ at ya from NYC. Here we go. [UPDATE: THE TRIP IS COMPLETE!]
* “Overall, people who do these trips are people who are at a turning point in their lives. Or, they have a lot of spare time, which usually means one thing… They are involved in some challenge in their lives that they want to overcome… When I look at the last few years, I’ve heard stories of people’s trials and tribulations, of people reinventing themselves.” Winona Bateman, of the Adventure Cycling Association.