Over Thai takeout last Thursday, a close friend and I caught up. It’d been over a month since I’d seen her, and even longer than that since we’d had a talking-really-talking-conversation.
As we munched on spicy green beans (her) and gingery mushrooms (me), B said something that stuck with me. “Reading the blog makes me feel like you and I are talking regularly,” she mused. “But I realized the other day how little I know about what’s really going on with you.”
My first thought was “but if you read my blog, then you do know what’s going on with me.” But then I ran through a mental list of things I don’t blog about and realized how little I actually do blog about. Book and baby. And lately, only baby.
So I filled her in on all the other stuff. Marriage. Family. Finances. Work. The meaty stuff I never write about.
The meaty stuff I never write about.
I write about struggles for time and conflicted feelings and sleepless nights. I write about my pursuit of productivity and my quest to live in the moment. But I don’t write about how the three Bs have affected my marriage. Or the toll my elective unemployment has taken on my bank account. Or the fact that I will eventually have to go back to work full time.
If you’d asked me eight days ago why I don’t write about these things, I would’ve been ready with an answer: my blog is about writing a book while raising a new baby. These other things are peripheral. Not the point.
But last week, giving B the full picture instead of just snapsnots, I realized that, when it comes to the pursuit of our dreams (writing that book, producing that film, starting that company), nothing is peripheral because everything – every part of us – is implicated. You can’t compartmentalize.
And yet we do. Not only on our blogs, but in real life. We talk about work and life and the give-and-take between the two. Our struggle for the illusive ”work/life balance.” And then we proceed to relay snippets about our jobs or our creative endeavors. Tidbits about our kids or our spouses. Rarely acknowledging that the struggle exists not because we haven’t figured out how to balance Work and Life, but because these two categories aren’t actually separate. Work intersects with Life. Work sometimes is life. And then there are the elements that don’t properly fit into either category. Where do mortgages go? Work or life? Hobbies? Housekeeping? Health?
I write about book and baby and blog. I mention boy. But those four categories aren’t the full picture of my life. And those four categories aren’t actually categories. They are people and passions that overlap and intersect in places and in ways that aren’t immediately obvious, and they bump up against and compete with other people and other passions (and other people’s passions). When I neglect to write about these intersections and friction points, I leave out crucial pieces of the puzzle. I don’t tell the whole story.
I want to tell the whole story.
Inevitably, my conversation with B turned to this blog. Its future. What the next 100 days will look like, and the 100 after that. “What’s next?” she asked me.
I didn’t have the answer ready then, but I have it now: what’s next is the rest of the story. The rest of my story.
Five months ago, I set out to write a draft of my first novel in the first 100 days of my baby’s life. That’s the story I’ve been telling here, in snippets and tidbits, since the day Lil Mil was born. But it isn’t the whole story. It was never meant to be. It’s just the first chapter of a longer, fuller, better story, one that ends with a cover and a spine. A book. My book. Sitting on a shelf in Barnes and Noble.
Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it ends somewhere entirely different, somewhere I don’t expect. I won’t know til the very last page.
In the meantime, I have a dream to pursue, a little girl to inspire, a husband to love and a mortgage to pay. That’s the story I want to tell. The real story. The whole story. What embracing the detour looks like, every day.
I don’t want to leave anything out. I want to talk about the gritty stuff. The not-so-easy to talk about stuff. The meaty stuff. The stuff that makes pursuing our dreams both the hardest and the greatest thing we’ll ever do.
The whole story is worth telling, I think. It’s the only one that matters, anyway.