Updated: Mar 5, 2021
The questions are coming:
What is the vision for your book? What are your goals? How do you plan to market this?
Honestly, I don't know. And I'm not fully convinced that I need to know.
The creative process was so incredible, and that in itself makes the whole thing successful to me.
I didn't tell anyone as I was writing it. Mostly, because I feared that telling people would somehow make me lose my motivation to finish. So I started July 2020 simply by writing "chapter 1" on a clean google doc. Pretty soon, the book poured out of me. Like it had been begging to be written for years. The words just needed the space and blank pages to come out. In four months, I was done.
So when I finished writing and I found a publisher, I got texts from friends saying, "Excuse me, why didn't you tell me about this!"
I thought about it. What made this process so sacred for me, that I didn't want to share it with anyone?
Something about the process itself is very intimate. I wanted to savor the experience alone because it was so raw, and I didn't want anything to take away from that. It quickly became like a companion to me. It was like this book and I had built a relationship. It became a very dear friend to me. It's where I would turn when I wasn't sure how to process my thoughts or emotions. And during an isolating pandemic, what better timing for a new friend who listens and accepts you - as you are - at all hours.
Having to put an experience you've never talked about into detailed words really allowed me to deeply process. I would sob as I was writing, which is why this book quickly became like a close friend to me. It's seen all of my sides - from inspired and excited where I had to leave whatever I was doing because I didn't want a certain sentence or idea to escape from me, to being too caffeinated late at night in my favorite coffee shops, all the way to my tears landing on the keyboard and practically writing the words for themselves.
I was sharing how cathartic the experience was to my good friend, fellow author, and beloved life coach, Abigail. She said something that I felt entirely. She was reminiscing on finishing one of her books, and she said, "I put it on the shelf and just exhaled and had this moment - like wow, this thing is outside of me now. It's no longer in me. I can hold it in my hands. And I can close it."
The whole premise of my book (not to spoil anything) - is to have permission to grieve however you need to in each moment. I felt a lot of pressure to "hurry along" in my grief. To sprint to the acceptance stage. To "let go" of the person already.
And then the most ironic thing happened.
I found some sort of closure through the process of writing this book. Through stating the importance of feeling things as long as you need to, the woundedness I felt from people's lack of understanding or unsolicited advice to move on slowly started dissipating. It no longer held me stuck in place. When I finished writing, I had this feeling that I was ready to, in Abigail's words, have this thing be outside of me. To hold it in my hands and be able to put it on a shelf, instead of carrying the weight of it. Not because anyone else was telling me to, but because for so long I was scared of letting go of the pain because it's all I've had left of Courteney, and I didn't know who I would be without that pain.
I can almost feel another book inside of me. So much so, that this experience of my grief was aching to be expressed so that it could be just that, an experience. It's the biggest experience because my life will never be the same. But it no longer feels the need to be an identity for me. I can still feel as deeply as I need to, whenever I need to. I can still pick it up. Grief will still be a lifelong friend I must learn to deal with, and welcome, and sit and have a drink together. But it doesn't need to be my only friend.
Bottom line: Writing this book has been such a gift. I'm so grateful for what it has done and what it has been for me. I've learned so much.
To anyone who wants to write a book, or make that album. To the person that wants to post a video of them singing, or create a website for their paintings: DO IT.
If you don't know where to begin, just start. Just begin. And for any fears you may have, I get it. People are critical. But people are also incredibly supportive. And those who don't create, criticize. Most importantly though, you owe it to YOURSELF. And from that, naturally, you will speak truth into other people's hearts from authentically speaking your truth.
And God knows this world needs more truth. It needs more of our hearts, more of our creativity, more of our healing and inspirations.
P.S. While in the process, a great read is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I read 'Big Magic' as I was writing, and I tried not to finish it because it was that good (you know those kind of books). It gave me courage and taught me to not take myself or my art too seriously. We have been given this life, so let's just make stuff and not worry about what would make it "successful" or not in the eyes of the world.
The process itself makes it successful.
Writing a book has changed me, it's healed me, it's inspired me; regardless of what it does for other people. And I'm eternally grateful for the creative process and all it's given me.
So get your hands dirty, and enjoy every second.