The weight of words

A joke among our friends (and most likely, everyone before and everyone after us) at college was the sign that greeted anyone who came into the city of Hillsdale: “It’s the People”. The longer we lived in Hillsdale, the truer that statement became for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here. Suffice to say with friends even more sarcastic than me, we still use that statement to describe certain groups or instances.

The phrase came to mind today as I thought about this post, but in a much different way than the snarky remark we used to describe “townies” in Hillsdale. Since Todd and I began teaching childbirth classes in 2003, 182 couples have come through our class series–and two of them have come through twice! It’s given me the chance to meet many rather interesting people from all different walks of life. Many of them have come and gone through that time, but I have several that I not only keep in contact with, but have come to call them close friends. Some of the more notable people have included:
*policemen and firemen (that’s for my 5 year old; they’re just cool)
*several seminary students (there’s something in the water out there in Wilmore)
*US Air Marshall
*former UK football player
*football coach
*college professors
*chiropractor
*lawyer
*chef
*SAHM
*cake shop owners (mentioned in earlier posts)
*Duke fans (a big step for me)
*social workers
*speech therapists
*ophthamalogist
*Ironman contestants
*architects
*engineers
*real estate agents
*worship leaders
*teachers
*small business owners
*med students
*nurse practictioners

I’m sure I forgot someone. I still remember the first time a med student called me about classes. Nearly going into a panic in the car while I spoke to her, I didn’t know how that was going to work out. I’m not anti-doctor by any means, but I’m also not medically trained and felt instantly inadequate. My mentor and good friend Guinever helped me get over that insecurity, and for that I’m forever grateful. As an aside, I’ve found that med students and PAs have been some of the best students and have added their experience to bolster many of the topics we talk about in class.

This is a long way to get to the point of my post. It’s not really about my classes…. One particular couple that came through my class has been a part of my life since I first met them in early 2004, though not continually. They asked me and I had the honor to be at the birth of their first child (it was the first birth I had ever acted as doula in…what a learning experience that was). They were one of only two couples to come back for a second round of classes when they were pregnant with number 2, a baby that was born in the car on the way to the hospital.

While they attended the second set of classes, after class one night they asked me if they could keep a few things in our basement over the Thanksgiving weekend since they planned to leave from our house on their way out of town to see family. I didn’t really think much of it and said yes. They proceeded to haul a bunch of toys into our basement guest room–much more than I expected. Briefly he explained that they were selling toys online and had picked up a few on their way into town for classes. Again, didn’t give it much thought.

That was 2006. Skip ahead a few years to April 2009 when we ran into them at the Midwest Homeschool convention in Cincinnati and caught up over lunch. We always enjoyed talking with them, but then went our separate ways among the seas of fellow homeschoolers.

I have tried to remember how and when it first came up, and maybe we spoke briefly about the subject in Cincinnati, but in early May while we were on vacation at the Tighe family extravaganza, I got an email from Steven about an idea he had. Since those few toys they stashed in our basement several years ago, apparently the two of them had become a successful internet toy business. Because the progression was involved and frankly, exciting, he was toying with the idea of writing down their story so that his children and employees could have a memory of how the company began and grew, along with the ups and downs that came with that amazing growth.

While I was astounded that he contacted me, I knew I wasn’t the only person he had in mind for this project. To be honest, after the excitement died down a bit I realized that I probably shouldn’t even put my name in the hat to be considered at all. Me!? A book?! I “had my hands full” (as the people in the grocery store always seem to say!) with six kids, homeschooling 4 of them, teaching classes, and generally trying to keep the laundry from taking over the house. How could I add this? But still…. it’s always been one of my life goals, no matter how out of reach it seems. I want to write a book. I even included it on that ridiculous Facebook survey that was going around a couple years ago, “25 Random Things.” It is #2 on my list.

No matter how the cards fell, without knowing the first thing about how to go about bidding on a book project or how to begin the writing process or anything but good grammar, somehow out of the several people who had expressed interest in working with Steven, he and his wife chose me. (I know Steven well enough now to think I must have landed it because I was the lowest bidder, and I say that with nothing but love!) Again, after the initial enthusiasm and flattery wore off, the realization that this was going to be a lot of work began to set in.

Over the summer of 2009, I spent many Wednesdays driving back and forth to his house to interview him and Jessica at first, and then his employees. I quickly learned that their story was definitely one to write down and remember; they have had astounding success in their ventures. It was enjoyable to have the chance to spend time with them and their employees and hear about the obvious family-like atmosphere the company had. Although it was a lot of work and time, I grew increasingly excited by the possibilties of the end result. By August, we had conducted several intereviews and had a lot of information to work with.

Then… I totally dropped the ball. School began again and at some point before that (in early June), we joined the Classical Conversations homeschool group and I agreed to become a tutor. This meant I had to attend a parent practicum and a tutor training to learn what in the world I was going to do. Jumping into CC really pushed this book project not only to the back burner, but off into the freezer. I was totally overwhelmed every week trying to prepare for my class as well as homeschool my own kids and teach my childbirth classes. (Don’t forget that laundry, just lurking and biding its time before it took over the house) I did not work on the book again until just before the company’s Christmas party. I had been invited for research, and it was nice to be there to see first hand the most talked about event of their company’s year. I left with mixed feelings, however; on one hand I had a renewed sense of motivation to work on the project, but that was combined with an overwhelming feeling a guilt because I really had gotten so little accomplished.

Enter 2010 and more ball dropping. It really began to weigh on me every time I thought of the book. I wanted to do it, but I either didn’t make it a priority or every day life consumed me…probably a little of both. There were many times that I came extremely close to contacting Steven and crying uncle, admitting that he had chosen the wrong person for the job. Part of me wanted to give him back all the research and work and just walk away, but another part of me still really wanted to do this for them…and for me. Besides, it would have been a headache to transfer everything to a new author.

At the busiest time of the year for our family, October of this year, I got an email from Steven. I was teaching two classes, Todd had his hand in three different business ventures, the kids were in the thick of their homeschool semester, and again, the laundry just wouldn’t go away. He asked if we could salvage the book project and reiterated how much he wanted to have it completed. I spent several agonizing days praying about what to do, and by agonizing, I mean stomach-hurting, no eating, then too much eating, cold sore, wringing my hands kind of agonizing. After all that, I put my tail between my legs for my lack of productivity and set a goal to produce something before the end of this year. Truth be told, as much extra work as it would be to take it on, I didn’t want to give it up.

As soon as my double classes ended in the second week of November, I dragged out the recorder Steven bought to keep record of the interviews and started working. It was embarrassing at first to remember just how little I had done after we did the initial interviews. I kicked myself for not just sitting down and transferring the recordings to written word right away, but I hadn’t so that was my first order of business. For two weeks, whenever I had the chance (and sometimes at the expense of other household duties, like *gasp* the laundry!), I listened to the interviews and typed them out, all the while trying to formulate the book’s outline in my mind. Although I was making progress, it wasn’t really getting me anywhere close to my goal of writing ten pages a week. Finally, and with a few interviews still left to go through, on December 3 I needed to do something. The Christmas party was looming, and I had agreed to do my best to have something for him to read at the annual Christmas party, their biggest event of the year. December 16 was not that far off!

Sparing you all the gory details of my day by day litany of distractions, as of Friday night I had a paltry 34 pages. My goal before Saturday had been 50 pages and it seemed almost impossibel, but I still had some time. Todd was going to be gone during the afternoon Saturday and Patrick, Brendan, and Ben were with him. Hannah helped out tremendously with Andrew and Chloe. Somehow I managed to produce almost more words in that 11 hour period than I had the entire previous week. Thankfully, I not only made but surpassed my goal of sending 50 pages to Steven before Saturday night. I’m pleased with what I have so far and excited that there is still so much more material to use for many additional pages.

All this to say that wow, I am writing a book. Most likely you will not see it on the New York Times best seller list, and the main audience is for my friend, his family, and his employees. That is not a concern for me, as we discussed that in the beginning. I’m not interested in hitting the big time, but after a few more months of work, I may be able to cross one big ticket item off my bucket list. It’s a great honor to do the work for Steven and Jessica, and I’m so relieved that there is actually something to report. For a long time I didn’t want to even tell anyone that I was attempting to write a book for fear that it didn’t work out. Time will tell.

I know how heavy 15,167 words can be now that they have been lifted off my shoulders.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebecca
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 18:12:11

    Congratulations! We’re very excited for you and this chance to fulfill a dream. We’re covering you in prayer all the way to the New Year. 🙂

    Reply

    • 2pink4blue
      Dec 12, 2010 @ 18:26:08

      Thank you so much! The only way this has happened at all is because many people have prayed for me. I appreciate yours greatly!

      Reply

  2. Maria
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 10:34:04

    I am really, really proud of you! As someone who knows how difficult writing can be, particularly with the weight of the unfinished work hanging over you, what you’ve described is a huge accomplishment.

    Woo-hoo!!

    Reply

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