On Writing a Book: Thoughts from the Cave

by Guest Blogger August 11, 2009

I have had the great privilege over the last few weeks of helping a company write a book . . .

This has not only been an incredible experience but a dream of mine. In my mind, writing and publishing a book has been pretty much the pinnacle of existence, a way to prove that my life means something. What was surprising, as I now become witness of the experience, is that when I finished the manuscript for the book, I was deeply depressed. Rather than feeling like my life had meaning, my life felt meaningless.

The day I finished the book, I went to our local brewery and enjoyed a beer with my husband. I went home and spent time with my two kids. Friends came over, and we had a wonderful time talking and eating a meal in our backyard. My heart—on the brink of feeling extinguished—expanded and breathed. Again I was reminded that it is in relationships that life has meaning.

What makes the experience even more interesting is how blind my humanness makes me. I know—I really know—that I am made to be in relationships, that I crave love and community and connecting with other people. I work with a non-profit that does prevention work based on research that the relationship of parents with their children is a key prevention measure. The book I wrote is all about how to grow relationships and connection. My husband is a therapist whose work focuses on helping people heal in relationships. Yet, how easily I forgot, with the idol of “book writing” up front and personal, this truth.

When I write, I crawl slowly into a small, warm cave all by myself. Time does not matter. Hunger, fatigue and thirst are irrelevant. I can write until I just can’t physically do it anymore, my mind still pushing itself to write just a little more. It’s almost addicting, the feeling of words flying out, making sense of difficult parts, tying parts together, holding all the significant parts in my head, discovering new connections. It feels like a marathon but with challenge stations—stand on your head, do this puzzle, remember this saying at each station. While I’m in my writing cave, I neglect relationships with my kids, with friends, with my husband. And I come out depressed, needing relationships to pump love back in.

As I look back at writing a book, I am a bit scared to begin again, to enter that cave with all its enchantment. But I also know better that I need balance, a time to write and a time to rest, a time to be with friends and to dance in the sunshine.


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