Last week I was away on a self imposed writer’s retreat in the city. I wasn’t going to announce it at first. I wanted to keep a low profile and hold my nose firmly to the grindstone. But the deeper reason I didn’t want to share what I was up to is connected to my conflicted relationship with accountability.
When we let people in on our dreams and goals, the target lives in their consciousness now, too - no longer just our own. This can be a double edged sword. It’s nice to have the company but it’s treacherous to be checked in on when we’re feeling like shit.
I’ve been quietly working on a book for a long time now. In the beginning, I talked about it regularly because I was cruising along, feeling good and sharing felt harmless.
But then life would interrupt my flow and I would find myself in months long droughts of writerlessness. It could feel like a sexless marriage sometimes. The more I worried about it, the deeper my resistance flared.
The worst thing, when you’re struggling in your relationship, is for some well meaning person to ask how it’s going. “Great,” is all you can offer, reflexively. Defensively. Please don’t peer any deeper into my Soul or I’ll crumple and it will be embarrassing for both of us.
The risk of sharing and creating a sense of knowing and accountability is that people can inadvertently trigger our shame. “How’s your book coming along?” is one of the most dangerous questions you can ask a writer.
The flip side of this is loneliness and a void of witnessing. Which can be just as destructive.
The middle ground seems to be dialing in our bold statements in the first place and creating some context. “I’m writing a book” becomes: “I’m working on writing a book, in between my career and my kids - it’s slow going but it’s my Soul work and I love it.”
By giving more insight at the onset, the other people in our lives can hold our stories alongside us with greater understanding and clear expectations. This way we don’t have to walk an all-or-nothing path. We can let the fullness of our journey be known by those we choose to share it with. This includes the pit stops and potholes and flat tires as well as the green lights and the long stretches where the traffic has dissipated and the moon is bright and the tank is full and we feel, in our hearts, like we could drive forever and even reach the horizon line.
Till next time friends,