There is an arrogance in writing a book. The author assumes others will be interested in her work. Otherwise, why would she write? This assumption weighs heavily upon the writer’s soul and bores a reservoir of self-doubt, ebbing and flowing with the tides of insecurity. It can make one a little crazy and explains the self-destructive nature of many creative people.
After my own self-questioning, I have decided to actively dismiss these insecurities. I post the following quote on the fridge:
The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things. ~Mike Dooley
It alleviates SOME of my worries…but not all of them.
I start thinking about my book and choosing its guiding principles. As I mentioned before, I want it to be one’s go-to book for dealing with dating. I want it to be light, funny, uplifting, beautiful, and gift-worthy. I want it to be a page-turner, one shares with her friends. I decide it will be for women over 40. (Later, my chosen demographics soften as I meet readers in their 20s and 30s, who share some of the same frustrations.) I would love for men to enjoy it too. I figure they may be feeling a little discouraged as well.
I think about the illustrations:
In the introduction, I write about the craziness of Orange County dating with the “real housewives” and 50-year-old guys looking for their 20-year-old soulmates. I see myself as my reader’s designated driver, keeping her laughing during the ride. I draw a picture of a stereotypical spinster. She has glasses, frizzy hair, and is holding a cat. Another cat is on a cat tree in the background. (Cats will be big in this book.) It is a little scary how much she looks like me.
I write other stories. In one vignette, I compare dating, in the OC, to the African Serengeti. I have fun making it sound like a National Geographic special with the reader watching from a viewing booth! I also draw a picture of a hand “giving the bird” with its wedding ring finger. It is a little offensive but that is okay. Dating is a little offensive.
During this time, I am also teaching. I spend hours after school grading, tutoring, organizing, and planning for my classroom. The remaining time, I am working on the book. After a while, it starts getting to me. I feel lonely, isolated, and a little chunky. I figure I need friends and some exercise.
I search the online Meetup sites and join the Orange County Hiking Club. I figure I can get in shape, meet some new friends, check out the dating scene for writing ideas and have a little fun. I start with the short hikes but soon find all the adventure is in the longer ones. These hikes are populated by the monster hikers. With this group, you feel guilty falling because it slows everyone else down and at the end of the trail, the organizer is taking trophy pictures of injuries. These crazies have their heroes too. There is a gal who forgot her hiking boots and ended up scaling the ominous C2C (Cactus to Clouds) in sandals. This trail spans the Palm Springs tram route and continues to San Jacinto Peak. It is over 10 miles, one way, with more than 10,000 feet gain and I stand in awe of anyone who can complete it. There are pictures of her victoriously waving her sandaled feet in the air on the website. She is not the only one. There’s another gal who became stranded in a snow storm, close to San Jacinto Peak. She holed up in an old cabin, close to the top, for several days. Through her resourcefulness and rock hard determination she survived and became part of the local folklore. These people are the Bear Grylls of the hiking club and I want to be just like them. I want to be strong, bold, fearless, gutsy and doggedly-determined.
I go on these hikes and meet some fantastic characters along the way. I ask one guy about his social life and he tells me,” This is a hiking club, not a dating club.” Obviously, he has not been paying attention! There is the curmudgeonly guy betting me, “This group will never make it!” Another holds my hand during an especially steep trail and I think I am falling in love. I write about the princes and the frogs; hiking grit and how it parallels dating; and the character-revealing aspects of a tough trail. I draw pictures of turtling, peakbagging and some of the pitfalls of trailblazing. I have a lot of fun and meet some great people!
And then one day, my friend Michael takes it up a notch. He has secured coveted permits for the highest peak in the Continental U.S.: Mount Whitney! I feel like I have hit the lug nut lottery when he invites me to join the group! I enthusiastically accept his invitation, having no idea this adventure would open a whole new very frightening chapter for me, one I could never have imagined…ever….
Next week: Scaling Mt. Whitney and It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This