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Walking the Tightrope. | Bethany Suckrow

Walking the Tightrope.

So this is the week, friends. My book proposal is in my agent’s hands and he will be sending it off to publishers any day. It is anyone’s guess what will happen from here. I’m trying to prepare my heart for the reality that now may or may not be the time to publish this book. I am at once proud of myself for coming this far and also profoundly terrified.

Another more seasoned writer might try to play it cool as they wait for a publisher to pick up their proposal. In case you’re new here, a word of caution : I am no such writer.

I was feeling pretty triumphant when I finally hit “send” on the email that carried my proposal off to my agent, but slowly, over a matter of a few days, I began to realize that this is it; it’s out of my hands now. It felt as though I had been walking a tightrope, calmly, carefully, and then I did the thing I wasn’t supposed to do. I looked down.

I realized how deeply I have allowed myself to want this. I have allowed myself to hope that it will happen, and it will happen soon, and it will happen with the right amount of financing and time to change some pretty significant things in my life.

But what if it doesn’t?

I am afraid. I am afraid it will be rejected. I am afraid it will be accepted. I am afraid that I will live in this smallish, squirrel-infested (yes, another story for another blog post) apartment in the Chicago ’burbs for the rest of my life. I am afraid that in the midst of working on this book my laptop will give up on me because it’s six years old and needs more RAM and its frequent error messages signal impending doom. I’m saving drafts like I’m storing up for a computer apocalypse – hard drive, external hard drive, flash drive, dropbox, email, print. If anyone has a spare fireproof vault they’re willing to loan to a poor, starving writer, let me know. I can’t promise you any proceeds from book sales, but you’ll definitely find your name in the acknowledgements.

I am afraid that I will write this book and it won’t go anywhere but the $.50 shelf at Goodwill. But I am also afraid that if I don’t write it, all the things I’ve learned and all the healing I’ve discovered will become another cheap platitude, an empty idiom, a lie that falls lazily from my mouth when someone I love needs empathy.

The weight of all that fear wobbled me back and forth dangerously on the tightrope.

The great irony of this book I’m writing felt like gravity pulling me downward.

I am writing a book about cancer and death and grief and faith and hope and healing, but I’m still in the midst of this healing process, still learning what it means to hope again.

I don’t trust the feeling of hope.

It is scary to feel it because it means I’ve made myself vulnerable and admitted that I want something, and by admitting that I want something, that means I have conjured an expectation and the reality is that expectations can shatter in an instant. And my reality is that the thing I wanted most in life, the prayer I prayed hardest for, the thing I invested all my hope in, withered away in my arms. And try as I might to defy it, I absolutely internalized that experience. My mom died, and the part of me that believed Good Things Can Happen feels dead and buried with her.

That pessimism is rooted in some really harmful theology and stupid things people have mindlessly said to me, and I want to write a book about that. And on the other hand, writing a book about that means staking my heart and creativity and faith in something bigger than myself. It means I have to find my hope again.

So I’m living in that tension, terrified and unsure. I’ve taken a few deep breaths to steady myself. I’ve stopped looking down and started looking ahead. And I’m finding that this tension is what stretches the tightrope out before me to move forward, one precarious and wobbly step at a time.

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  • http://avanomaly.blogspot.com/ Jamie

    I believe in you. It takes great courage to press on even when the hope has faded.

    • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

      Jamie, you’re such an encourager. Thank you SO MUCH for your support. <3

  • http://catherineannehawkins.com/ Catherine

    This is so exciting. I totally understand the mixed fears of “What if it doesn’t get published?” and “What if it DOES get published?” Either way, it will take courage.

    • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

      Thanks, Catherine!

  • Hey, Aileen.

    “…it means I’ve made myself vulnerable and admitted that I want something,
    and by admitting that I want something, that means I have conjured an
    expectation and the reality is that expectations can shatter in an
    instant.”

    Exactly that. And yet somehow we know without the vulnerability, very few Great things happen. Love you, friend! I hope you feel free to conjure, knowing that even if there are crashes, you are surrounded by support.

    • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

      So true, love. Deeply thankful for you and our circle of friends.

  • Anne Bogel

    I’m excited and hopeful for you. And honestly, it’s encouraging to hear from those who are still walking the healing process even as they write about it. Looking forward to the updates on the editorial process. :)

    • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

      Thank you, Anne! Hope is contagious, so knowing that I have a community of writers and friends around me that have hope and faith in me helps me find the courage to have it for myself. :)

  • Abby Norman

    I teach Steinbeck’s The Pearl at the very end of the year and Juana says in it “it is a terrible thing to want a thing too much.” I always whole heartedly disagree with her, but lately I have been thinking the exact same thing.

    • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

      Gah! I’ve never read it. Now I must. :)

      I know you just finished writing your manuscript for your book, right? What are your next steps?

      • Abby Norman

        Get an agent. I did it in the wrong order I guess. Also, book needs major MAJOR edits. But if you have some places to send my query letter I would be grateful.

  • http://www.natalietrust.com/ Natalie Trust

    Oh Bethany, this was so encouraging to me. I’m in the process of finding an agent, but to send off my sample chapters is such a scary thought to me because, as you said, if someday someone picks the story up then it will be out of my hands. My life is in the pages and the vulnerability I feel is…well, there aren’t really words to describe it.

  • Sally Nash Boyd

    I can’t wait to purchase and have my book signed by the author. I’m so proud of you for taking this step and sharing your families story. Good luck. Hugs.

  • http://www.brynnabegins.com/ Brynna Lynea

    I haven’t been writing much lately, but I’ve been reading. Congratulations on taking this huge step — I’m inspired and impressed and proud.

  • http://valderingrojas.wordpress.com/ val dering rojas

    Your posts are always so inspiring.

    Hope is a tricky thing– a balance of expectation and faith. I lean more toward faith these days, as sometimes (as you say), it’s just out of our hands. For example, every weekend my children leave me to visit their father, and every time they do I *hope* they arrive back here safely, but I have *faith* that they will. It’s out of my hands and if I didn’t think that way, I’d have even more anxiety than I already do.

    No matter what happens with your book *now*, it will be the right thing for *the future*. You are an amazing person.

    (Personally, I would purchase and read your book as soon as it was available :-) )

  • Ashley Mays

    This is really beautiful. I can totally relate as I feel like I’m in the same stage of life. :-) Great post!