If you DID know

Yesterday I decided it was time to finally sit down and write a book proposal. For the non-writers out there, a proposal is basically a document detailing who you are, what your book is about, why someone should publish it and what you’re going to do to help it get to readers once it’s published. I don’t know if it’s industry-standard, but it is in the Christian book market.

I’ve been avoiding it.

I wrote a book because a book was on my heart to write. I’ve always wanted to write books, for as long as I can remember. I like my book. I’m proud of it. People who read it come away and say nice things about it too, and they say “wow”, and they say “that’s really good”, and I say “thank you”. But then some other people overhear these things and they say “you wrote a book? What’s it about?” and I say “ummm…stuff?” and they say “what sort of stuff?” and I say “ummm…people and stuff?”

People and stuff. That’s really good, Megan. You should be a writer, with a gift of words like that. Yeah.

There’s another answer that I sometimes give when people ask me what I write about, and that is “I don’t know”. And this isn’t strictly true either, because you don’t write 81,000 words about something you don’t know what it is or whether anyone would ever want to read it. Well, okay. Some people do. I don’t.

I had this friend once who never ever let me say “I don’t know”. She’d always counter it with “And if you DID know, what would the answer be?” and suddenly I’d find myself giving her an answer, whether it was a thought, a guess, a revelation. I did know, I just didn’t want to talk about it.

Funnily enough, I found the proposal to be the same. As soon as I sat down with all the relevant if-you-want-to-write-a-fiction-proposal-you-need-to-ask-yourself-the-following-questions questions, a good coffee and an iPad suddenly I found I did know the answers after all. I wrote three pages of answers, and a hundred more questions.

It made me think: how many more areas of life are there “I don’t knows” that I simply haven’t taken the time to figure out the answers to. Sometimes it just takes someone to ask the right question.

Hello my friend. How are you today? Are there niggling questions in your life that you stop up with “I don’t knows”? Have you ever asked yourself the question “what if you DID know?”

Would you do me the honour of…

I’m writing a proposal.

Noooooooo, don’t be silly! I’m already married…d’uh! I’m writing a book proposal. It’s okay. It’s not so hard. I’ve got a template, and that helps. Oh man, if everything in life had a template then wouldn’t it be awesome?

Oh okay…or not.

But it’s funny, because I’ve been living with this book for nearly seven years (yes, you heard me right), and I’m passionate about it, and yes, to be honest, I believe this is a book that God called me to write, but now some random Proposal Template is asking me HARD QUESTIONS. You know, like “what’s it about?”, or “why is it important?” and other things you can’t answer with “IT JUST IS!”

And of course the greatest irony is the whole book is about finding words to express deep feelings.

That’s not something I’m good at. At. All.

Anyone who’s ever asked me, when I’m having a really bad day, what’s happening for me, would have been met with an answer like “oh, you know. Stuff”. And a sage nod of the head, as if that explained everything. Which, of course, it does.

“Stuff” means everything. It means “I’m trapped so deep in my thoughts that I’m not sure how to find a way out”. It means “I’m really hurting please can you give me a hug or some chocolate…or preferably both”. It means “There are two completely opposing thoughts in my head right now that I can’t reconcile, and I’m not sure where God is”.

Or, of course, it also means “there’s too much washing on my kitchen table and too many dishes on my bench to even contemplate the idea of dinner and please can we eat fish and chips in front of the telly tonight”. But usually I’m okay with finding the words for that.

I can do it. I will. In fact, if I managed to write a book with 73,000 words that explain deep and complex feelings, then I’m sure I can write another 10,000 that explain why the 73,000 are so important.

Wish me luck, okay?

And next time you ask me what’s happening and I tell you “oh, you know, Stuff”, just check out the state of the kitchen. If it’s clean (ish) then I probably mean one of the other things : )