Writing is hard. Formulating words and sentences in a way that makes sense to the world, and not just in my head, is challenging. To me, things like periods and paragraphs seem entirely unimportant. Throw in grammatical rules and top it off with developing my own unique “voice,” and my head is near explosion during any given day. But there are moments when I find my flow, I find my “voice,” and I am ON IT. I feel good, I feel strong, I feel like a WRITER.
And then Jen Hatmaker comes along and says, “Oh girl, let me show you how it’s done.”
Writing takes all of me. I have to sit in silence, be still, remember to use a period at the end of a sentence and evoke the most intense amount of concentration. But when I hit that “writing stride,” that, “sweet spot,” I’m like a writing machine, a superhero…WRITER WOMAN, invisible plane and all.
WRITER WOMAN can write for hours on end. BUT if there is even the slightest shift or change in the environment, a noise, a flying insect or a knock at the door…forget it. Distraction is my Kryptonite, and just like that, my writing ”sweet spot” is gone. WRITER WOMAN is back to being unfocused, no period, no paragraph Dawn, with no invisible airplane.
About a month ago, while experiencing one of these incredible “sweet spot” writing episodes, I made a rookie mistake and forgot to turn my phone off. My friend Kimi called, old-school style, we actually used our voices and spoke to each other.
She called to tell me I HAD to read “Of Mess and Moxie” by Jen Hatmaker. She explained, “Jen has the same sarcastic sense of humor that you do, she’s a riot!”
Got it, buy the funny book. Back to writing, phone off.
Forty minutes later, my neighbor knocked at the door to drop a package off, as she was leaving she turned and said, “By the way, I know you’re writing, have you ever read any of Jen Hatmaker’s books?”
Intense writing day lost but, message received loud and clear; buy Jen Hatmaker.
I bought the book and the audiobook, (you’re welcome Jen). I listened as she read out loud, I was in awe.
I know this woman. She reminds me of me. We would be friends, we would laugh, we would drink wine. I would swell, (because wine makes me swell like a blowfish) but it would be worth it.
I want to write like this, make friends with strangers through my words. Make women feel like we are sitting and talking on a big comfy sofa together. Jen does this in a perfect, humorous and passionate way that I adore. Best of all, she uses words I didn’t know existed: GUFFAW.
She uses GUFFAW.
Is GUFFAW even a real word? Nahhhh, she just used it wrong, give the girl some grace. Guffaw it is clearly the sound a bird makes.
“Ca-caw, guffaw, guffaw.”
As a budding writer, I should NOT admit that I don’t know this word GUFFAW, but you will be happy to learn, I have Googled it, and GUFFAW basically means LMAO.
I was elated and crushed by the knowledge of Jen Hatmaker’s existence. She is out there, and she is GOOD! A flood of insecurities began to rush in; I raced down the road of “I Suck, I’m Not Enough and Why Even Try,” with my foot pressed hard on the pedal and a full tank of gas.
I’m sure this is the exact response Jen intended to evoke from her readers.
I should not write this book that God woke me up, in the middle of the night, and told me to write. He has somehow forgotten that he created the glorious Jen Hatmaker. He doesn’t need Dawn Barton to write a book; God needs people that know the word GUFFAW.
I should NOT write a book.
Jen’s doing it. We’re good.
(Side note: I had not read far enough into Jen’s book to get to the chapter where she beautifully calls all creatives to live out their callings, no matter what, and write. All of this probably would have been avoided had I just kept reading.)
While wallowing in my “dinner-for-one pity party,” a quote I’d heard a hundred times came to mind: ”God doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the called.”
I heard it over and over in my head, but I did not feel equipped. How is it possible to be doing something you feel this ill-equipped to do?
When I’m not pretending to be a writer, I have the privilege of working with women every day, mentoring them to be the very best version of themselves in their careers for the last 10 years. I love doing this with all of my heart, and well, I’m pretty good at it. So why on earth can I not coach myself through this? Come on, I empower for a living, and I feel like the least capable and empowered woman I know. Am I a fraud?
The answer is NO.
I have come to realize that it’s ok to feel insecure and lost. Writing a book for the 1st time is messy, and for me, hard. I’m uncertain about my skills; I’m nervous about tapping into a layer of pain and emotions to tell my stories of loss, heartache, and joy. And now, I’m most definitely insecure about my limited vocabulary…Guffaw, Guffaw.
I know that this is a learning process, and I will get better each day. Right now, though, it would be so much easier to throw my hands up and quit rather than taking a giant leap of faith to write a book.
I bet God LOVES when we take these giant leaps. A jump that is so big and so crazy, that it leaves us totally, utterly and completely dependent on him to go forward. It’s where he meets us, face to face, hand in hand, his fingers intertwined into ours and jumps, right there with us.
Jen’s book was a gift; in some crazy way, it gave me permission to be more of the woman I am, out loud, with God. It reminded me to be authentic, with humor and embrace my complete lack of experience in writing a book. God’s got this, and the world can probably handle Jen Hatmaker AND Dawn Barton.
One day I will meet Jen Hatmaker, we will GUFFAW at this story, and she will say “Dawn, your book was AWESOME!”
Only she won’t say “awesome,” because she will use another word I didn’t know and it will be a beautiful, full circle moment in my life.
Here’s to you, Jen Hatmaker!