Walking the Tightrope.

So this is the week, friends. My book proposal is in my agent’s hands and he will be sending it off to publishers any day. It is anyone’s guess what will happen from here. I’m trying to prepare my heart for the reality that now may or may not be the time to publish this book. I am at once proud of myself for coming this far and also profoundly terrified.

Another more seasoned writer might try to play it cool as they wait for a publisher to pick up their proposal. In case you’re new here, a word of caution : I am no such writer.

I was feeling pretty triumphant when I finally hit “send” on the email that carried my proposal off to my agent, but slowly, over a matter of a few days, I began to realize that this is it; it’s out of my hands now. It felt as though I had been walking a tightrope, calmly, carefully, and then I did the thing I wasn’t supposed to do. I looked down.

I realized how deeply I have allowed myself to want this. I have allowed myself to hope that it will happen, and it will happen soon, and it will happen with the right amount of financing and time to change some pretty significant things in my life.

But what if it doesn’t?

I am afraid. I am afraid it will be rejected. I am afraid it will be accepted. I am afraid that I will live in this smallish, squirrel-infested (yes, another story for another blog post) apartment in the Chicago ’burbs for the rest of my life. I am afraid that in the midst of working on this book my laptop will give up on me because it’s six years old and needs more RAM and its frequent error messages signal impending doom. I’m saving drafts like I’m storing up for a computer apocalypse – hard drive, external hard drive, flash drive, dropbox, email, print. If anyone has a spare fireproof vault they’re willing to loan to a poor, starving writer, let me know. I can’t promise you any proceeds from book sales, but you’ll definitely find your name in the acknowledgements.

I am afraid that I will write this book and it won’t go anywhere but the $.50 shelf at Goodwill. But I am also afraid that if I don’t write it, all the things I’ve learned and all the healing I’ve discovered will become another cheap platitude, an empty idiom, a lie that falls lazily from my mouth when someone I love needs empathy.

The weight of all that fear wobbled me back and forth dangerously on the tightrope.

The great irony of this book I’m writing felt like gravity pulling me downward.

I am writing a book about cancer and death and grief and faith and hope and healing, but I’m still in the midst of this healing process, still learning what it means to hope again.

I don’t trust the feeling of hope.

It is scary to feel it because it means I’ve made myself vulnerable and admitted that I want something, and by admitting that I want something, that means I have conjured an expectation and the reality is that expectations can shatter in an instant. And my reality is that the thing I wanted most in life, the prayer I prayed hardest for, the thing I invested all my hope in, withered away in my arms. And try as I might to defy it, I absolutely internalized that experience. My mom died, and the part of me that believed Good Things Can Happen feels dead and buried with her.

That pessimism is rooted in some really harmful theology and stupid things people have mindlessly said to me, and I want to write a book about that. And on the other hand, writing a book about that means staking my heart and creativity and faith in something bigger than myself. It means I have to find my hope again.

So I’m living in that tension, terrified and unsure. I’ve taken a few deep breaths to steady myself. I’ve stopped looking down and started looking ahead. And I’m finding that this tension is what stretches the tightrope out before me to move forward, one precarious and wobbly step at a time.