I can't do this alone

Some weeks are all about celebrations (like my Maybe Party). Some weeks are all about work and locking myself at my desk (just kidding, bed) to get inside my own head. This past week was about community.

I don’t think looking at my calendar for the week I realized it would be a social week. And the older version of me would have been exhausted just looking the lack of white space on iCal. But whoever I am becoming (or rather I think always were and it’s being uncovered) I was rejuvenated by the sense of community.

I’m working on a writing project that all started because I was at a conference and heard the statement: “Nashville is the most supportive city in the world for dreams.” And I wondered if it were true, or if we were just sitting in a room of a couple hundred entrepreneurs whose businesses were in Nashville.

But this week I sat in rooms surround by celebration, and work, and mostly community. And I’m becoming more convinced that statement is true.

I stood feet from Jeff Goins as he took the microphone at his book launch party for Art of Work. A party to celebrate the work that has gone into pages and pages of uncovering that our calling isn’t our vocation or one single thing we do. And he said it stated that he felt like he didn’t write the book as much as he just got to tell the stories. As Jeff thanked those involved in this book and surrounded by people in the room excited for his work coming to life, he said the statement that snowballed my week: “Every story of success is a story of community.”

The next evening, on another side of town with a room filled with completely different type of people, my friend Lauren had a show in Germantown. As she introduced herself while setting up her microphone, she said “Half of this room are my best friends” which was true.  A dozen of us sat in the second row together, and the brief moments while Lauren sang and opened her eyes, I wondered if she could see us. I thought, “How amazing that she can look out into a room and see her friends.” I would like to say I maybe sort of have it made when I can look out into a room and see my friends excited for me.

Not even seven hours later, I stood in another room at Creative Mornings, full of creatives. Microsoft Word is telling me “creatives” isn’t a word, but it really is. Once a month, I stand in a room full of other people who are feelers, makers, the types of people who art. (use “art” as a proper verb there, because, Microsoft Word, it is!) And in actuality, without the refuel of being around creatives, hearing talks about making art (whatever your art is) and watching as a dozen photographers stage photos that I can only appreciate from afar, I would not be able to continue.

The shows that Lauren performs in wouldn’t happen without the planning done by Cause A Scene, in which Larry constantly surrounds us in venues where connecting with others is to happen. More than just music, but community.

My marathon training wouldn’t happen without annoyingly texting my friends how I don’t want to do the race but then afterwards ask them what part of course they want to post up and hold a poster for me at. 

Going back to that writing project I started, I used to think I could do it alone. I used to think I would lock myself in a room one day, write until my heart burst and I would have a book. I knew it was a lot harder than that, but I didn’t have the notion I needed people for this.

When God convicts you, it’s not mean or rude. You won’t feel guilt or shame when God corrects you. When God shows you where you have it wrong, it’s loving. And I like to be proved wrong that way. I cannot write alone. Some days, I can and should. But writing a book is hard when you have a tendency to not finish your own sentences. You need other ideas, and mentors, and a perspective outside of yourself.

So, I wish I could tell my eight-year-old self that this weekend I am going on a writer’s retreat. My eight-year-old self would have no idea what that was, and I would tell her “You get to go away for a weekend and sit with other people and write. Write all you want but with other people.” But, I need this. I need to be in a community when I am stuck in my writing.

I cannot do it alone. I can’t day-to-day life alone, nor can I completely work alone. Even if I could, I don’t think it was be as good as if I connected with others.

If there is ever a day I can stand in front of people to celebrate something other than a maybe. To have “finished a race” as Jeff Goins said on Wednesday, I want to be able to look out to my community. My family. My friends. The people who encouraged me to try, the same people who told me to try again after I failed. It wouldn’t be fun to look into an empty room or eat cake at my kitchen table by myself.

Deleted Lines

[Sometime this week, Lauren, the girl mentioned in the last piece I published here, and I concluded that I am making a whole list of paragraphs, sentences and thoughts that I delete from my writing for the year. Whether they're too real or just don't fit, they still belong somewhere. Today, it fit here]

For a while, when I would write and I knew I was writing something good (or what I thought was good) I felt like I put on a mask. Whatever I was typing or writing was a facade I was trying to imitate  Even if I knew that no one would be reading it, I worried that I still was making up a certain tone of voice. That I was being someone else because these words just fell out of me and I couldn’t type quick enough, even though I swear I took a typing class in high school. In the past few months, between writing for work and then writing for fun, I realized there was no mask. Yes, it felt different to write and yes it didn’t seem exactly like myself. But the words that come out while I write come out so fast and so freely that it cannot be anyone but me. Whatever comes out, whatever ends up on the keyboard, on my screen, on blank sheets of a journal, that’s exactly me.

And maybe whatever I am doing the other 80% of my life is really the mask.