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My Discomfort Zone

by Jean McGuire in My life
Jean McGuire ©2019

I spend a lot of my time telling other people that they need to leave their comfort zone and stir up some energy. I tell them they need to do this because even if your effort doesn’t bring the desired results, it will lead you to something that will. I tell people to do this because it has worked for me so many times.

It’s so damn easy to tell other people what to do, but it isn’t always easy to follow your own advice. What I have recently been reminded of is that no matter how many times you’ve made a leap of faith, that does not guarantee that your next needed leap will be easy. Changes and transitions are damn uncomfortable

One of the things that has been making me really uncomfortable is a book I wrote 30+ years ago. I was going through my divorce and was trying to figure out how to help my young daughters deal with the grief of the divorce. I didn’t find any good tools at the time, so I researched the grieving process and wrote a book for kids about grief. I was proud of the end result, but made the mistake of handing it over to a family member to edit.

I don’t know what actually happened that caused that family member to throw the book into a drawer where it languished for years. What I do know is that during the passing years I assumed the book had been so poorly written that the family member didn’t think it was worth the time it would have taken to edit it. Without them saying a word, I assumed that it had at best disappointed them.

Flash forward 25 years and the manuscript is returned to me by another relative who found it in the back of a drawer. It took me 3 months to get up the nerve to open the envelope and re-read what I had written all those years ago. When I did, I cried through much of the story. It was good. What I had written had value and showed talent.

I went through and edited the story. When I was happy with it, I showed it to a few friends who had generally positive comments. Still I hesitated. No matter how many times I thought I was happy with the story, I couldn’t get the years of imagined criticism out of my head. I wasn’t ready to actually do anything that would move it forward.

But I’ve always known that getting that story out would engender some major changes in my life. Last spring I was finally ready to work on it again. After yet another edit, I felt pretty good about what I had. Around that time, I had lunch with a friend and told her that I was looking for an editor who would be gentle with me but at the same time provide me guidance on how to make the book publishable. I actually stated my hopes out loud.

A few days later I was talking to one of my yoga students about writing. I told him about my blog, which he was interested in. Then, I told him about my book and how I’d set the intention of finding an editor who would be honest with me while also understanding that I had a lot of emotional baggage wrapped up in the story. This kind gentleman looked me in the eyes and said, “Jean, that’s what I do.” I almost started crying right there in the middle of the gym.

He did the first read of my book at no charge and gave me guidance on how to re-write the story. After I had done that, he gave me a greatly discounted price for him to go through and do a line by line edit. After a couple of rounds of that, he announced my book is ready to send to a publisher.

Great. The hard part is done, right? Nope. I am now looking for a publisher or agent who will be as gentle with me as that amazing editor was. What is surprising to me is how much resistance I still feel about taking the next step. It took me weeks to sign up for a website that provides lists of agents and publishers who are accepting unsolicited works from new authors. After that it took me a few more weeks to actually start submitting. But I finally did it. I have started to submit my story to agents and publishers.

Great things are coming if I will just listen to my own advice. So, once again, I am taking a leap of faith. I don’t know what will become of this story or if it will ever be published. What I do know is that as uncomfortable as it makes me, I have to keep pushing through to make this happen.

It’s so easy to say close your eyes and leap; it can be so hard to actually do it.

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