by Linda Bryant
Editor’s note: To celebrate this month’s focus on books and writing here at the blog, Linda Bryant is giving away TWO copies of her self-published new book, Dancing in the Fall: Embracing Joy in the midst of Change. If you’d like to be entered in her drawing, email Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org by 1/31 with a sentence or two about what you cherish most about the season of autumn and your complete mailing address (U.S. addresses only).
Below, you’ll find Linda’s story about her journey to publication.
If I can knit a sweater, I should be able to write a book. Right?
1. Pick the yarn/Pick the topic.
2. Follow the pattern/Follow the outline.
3. Grab my needles and let the stitches fly/Grab my laptop and let the words fly.
That’s what I thought when I set out to follow my dream of writing a series of books about each of the four seasons. That was years ago, and when my first book about the lessons of fall was FINALLY about done, I thought of the knitting analogy. It helped me find the courage to finish.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and the process of writing a book, and this is certain. Writing a book is NOTHING like sitting in my favorite chair knitting a sweater. At least on most days.
Writing a book feels more like I’m standing in the middle of a huge yarn shop surrounded by mountains of colors, textures, sample items, and rows of books and needles. I thought I knew what I was coming in to buy for my next project until I walked in. I become so overwhelmed I was tempted to walk right on out.
But what usually clinches how I decide to create my next work with yarn is picturing the person that will receive my finished project. That helps inform the color, the texture, and even the pattern I’ll make. As I dove deeply into focused writing on my book these past months, I couldn’t help but feel like I was standing in a vast yarn shop.
I had so many topics and words and stories floating through my mind. Where do I even start? Maybe this dream of mine is a bit too overwhelming? Should I just walk out ‘of the store’? Then I remembered my yarn shop strategy. Just start meandering around my heart and life and memories to see what feels and looks right for what I want to ‘make.’
Don’t be afraid to look at other people’s work. They wrote what they needed to write. I shouldn’t compare their words to mine.
Finish a chapter, feel it, mull it over, and let the book’s pattern begin to unfold. Increasingly trust my gut. Just keep writing. It doesn’t matter if I’m experienced or simply beginning.
Just write. The process of digging into a challenge, whether it be knitting or writing, has changed me. I’ve slowed down, I’ve looked at my life, and I’m opening it up for others to read.
The clincher for me as I see the finish line is picturing the person that may receive my gift of words. I hope whoever that is will feel embraced by the work of my hands, but most importantly, by the words from my heart. Day by day. Word by word. My book became complete. It became official.
After years of starting and stopping, of dreaming and doubting, of watching and waiting, Dancing in the Fall is done. I can hold it. I can see it. I am overwhelmed!
My first copy sits right at home between my writing journals and a faithful laptop. While it’s still a little hard to believe it is done, I’d have to say its timing is perfect.
My life has been writing this book for over fifteen years even though I hadn’t put words to the page yet. As the changes in my family began to rapidly increase, I didn’t like the woman that I saw staring back at myself. I was afraid to fail, I wanted desperately to control, and I compared myself to others way too much. Something needed to change.
That person was me.
So, noticing clues from the season of fall, I began to move toward the woman I had been created to be. It was a journey of course, but it was a journey worth taking.
One of my biggest challenges in writing this book was knowing how to finish it. In many ways, I couldn’t truly start capturing my journey until I knew that I could embrace joy in the midst of change. So, I kept living my life incorporating my learnings. And then one morning last summer, as I walked through the woods, it hit me. I knew my ending.
So, I began. Head down and fingers on the keyboard. With my notebooks, journals, sticky notes, and a little dog on my lap. With my husband, family, and friends cheering for me as my eyes watched my journey appear upon the screen. When I began to attack the editing and formatting process, I realized that even my high school part-time job at a newspaper had prepared me for this. I was overwhelmed to think that maybe, just maybe, writing this book has been in the works for much longer than I realized.
Linda Bryant’s writing encourages others to slow down enough to notice the people and moments in their lives: “I see lessons for life through the watching the rhythms of winter, spring, summer, and fall.” See more of her work at lindabryant.wordpress.com