Creativity seems to demand flexible and measured tension…All we do here is invent games to pass the time. -John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

So today, July 6, is my 29th birthday and the deadline I initially set for completing my book proposal.

In a post on May 19 I made a specific pledge around completing it. Here’s how I measure up to that pledge today, seven weeks later:

write for four hours a day five days a week: After the first few weeks I stopped keeping track of hours. Writing a memoir is not like having a 9-5 job. Too often I forget that. Some days I wrote all day, some days I just had an hour. I did my best. I put in consistent effort each week.

do whatever I want during those four hours as long as it has some connection to completing the proposal: An unabashed “Yes!” here. My most helpful tool in this category was keeping a log of my feelings, thoughts around what I was working on. I can’t tell you how many times I noted the existence of “doubt” and kept writing anyway. There’s something about naming what is that helps me to keep moving forward.

do what needs to be done to finalize the proposal no later than 5:21 a.m. on July 6, 2010, my 29th birthday: here I’m an unabashed “No!” While I have a great first draft of the proposal done, it’s not ready to go out yet. So technically speaking, I get an “F” here.

As I look back on this pledge now, I see a dance between the ego and the soul. The ego cares about meeting deadlines and follow-through and worries about being criticized for falling short. The soul says, “Darling, it’s been 7 years you’ve been working on this book, are you really going to get stuck on this deadline? Look at what you were able to do! Take all the time you need.” I like the rush of energy that flew through me seven weeks ago when I started this mad dash towards finishing. I feel proud of what I have accomplished, of what I have learned.

I am celebrating that I have a solid first draft of the proposal, parts of which are currently being read by others for feedback. The most important thing that has happened is that a clearer sense than ever of the book that I want to write has emerged along with a growing belief that I can in fact write it. Again and again I am finding that in showing up regularly and doing the work, progress happens naturally. One of the greatest gifts of my upbringing is stubbornness – the most stubborn people on the planet raised me – and this quality is serving me well in this process. I can see how my nonlinear process over the last 7 years in working on this memoir has lead me here to this moment.

So the time is still now. Now is the time for patience, gentleness, and saying to the unkempt parts of myself that don’t operate according to linear time: “Take all the time you need.”

The body opens in gentleness. So too does the burgeoning author within me. So I will keep dancing with ego and soul, gentleness and form. Creativity demands flexible and measured tension. All we do here is invent games to pass the time. I will keep putting my butt in the seat. I will let you know when it’s done.

ps: I am trying out affiliate links for the first time through amazon.com. To buy one of the most soulful books I have read in a long time, click here: Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom I receive a small commission on the sale. The funds go back into the sustenance of this blog.