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Who Are YOU to Write a Book?

So there I am, sitting in a quiet booth in the back of a nice restaurant here in Boulder. And I’m listening to a friend of mine say one of the craziest things I’d ever heard.

This friend is a highly successful entrepreneur, with a gripping life story. She’s also—and I don’t say this lightly—a gorgeous writer.

Lyrical and poetic, yet crisp and clear. Not a combination you see everyday.

And precisely what insanity was she uttering from across the table?

One I hear from prospective authors everyday—either explicitly or implicitly:

Who am I to write a book?

Now this would have been hard for me to hear, even if it had been some shmo with far less to say than my friend. But the woman we’re talking about? Holy moly! She’s got a story and a message that already change peoples’ lives every single day.

Here’s what I wish I had said: “I hear you, my friend. We all have insecurities.”

Here’s what I actually said: “Don’t be stupid.”

Lucky for me, she’s forgiving—and she was open to my not entirely diplomatic feedback. By the end of the meal, we’d both come to the conclusion that writing the book is the right next step for her.

So why did I find myself tossing and turning at 2am? Because I realized that I hear this same thing from too many would-be authors, all too often.

I grabbed my iPhone, as I frequently do during my middle-o-the-night inspiration sessions. And what started to come out of me sounded more like a poem than a blog.

Call it a mini-manifesto, aimed at anyone who has ever had the longing to write a book—without the confidence to do so.

In other words, it’s for my friend.

And it’s for you.

And you know what? Secretly, it’s for me.

Yes, I too have longed to bring all the crazy truth I’ve accumulated in the past 39 years to the page. But as of this writing, I haven’t yet done that.

Why not? “Because it would never sell.” “Because I’m a publishing professional and it would be mortifying to put a book in the world and have it fail.” “Because…who am I to write a book?

So this is for all of us. And, not to be self-congratulatory or anything, I believe it’s the most important message you will hear about writing all day. Enjoy!

Who are YOU to write a Book?
A Mini-Manifesto Written at 2am

Who are YOU to write a book, you ask?
I say, who are you NOT to?
That desire didn’t plant itself
Deep in your heart
Some spontaneous error of cosmic judgment.
Oh no, my dear,
That yearning whisper is an order
Issued from the original boss-lady of the Beyond
(And the boss-lady knows exactly what she’s doing)

I’m afraid you’ve got God in you
She points out your destiny via desire
She has no other language—
She does not speak in tongues, or Swahili
Or Esperanto
Or, god forbid, English.
She speaks in the one and only trusted language:
The felt sense of yearning.
(With a touch of synchronicity
And a smattering of joy)

If the thought has crossed your mind
You can translate it thus:
Write it, beauty.

Record who you are in the ledger of life.
Do it for them, for me, for the pure pleasure of it
Skip the why and the how
Don’t think about the haters

Life is learning itself through you.
Who are you to say Oh goodness, I’m sorry
You must have made some mistake
Don’t you see I’m not good enough?

So you can’t spell that well,
And you don’t know what a preposition is.
So you don’t know where to start.
Poor excuses—that’s why God created editors.

I know you are so busy,
With the kids to take care of!
I hear you…but.
Do you want them growing up coded with the belief
That they have to be perfect, before they begin?
Just put a sign on the door:
Shhhh….Mom is writing
Give them permission to want what they want someday
By wanting what you want, today.

We all have the right
To write.
To try and fail, and try again
To grow and experience our own consequences
To feel the tender opening
To give ourselves to something
That may or may not work out.

So who are you to write that book?
You are a human being with the longing—

And that, my friend, is enough.

Love + Books,