This is not the letter I planned to send.
I draft my Lyon’s Letters over the weekend so that I can have dedicated time to think and get my ideas on paper. Sometimes, I’ll have such clarity that the Letter I’m writing flows and it’s all done in that one sitting. More often, I get a good first draft and then walk away so I can come back to it with fresh eyes early in the week. That distance creates a chance for my brain to stop thinking it knows what I meant and so that when I look at the writing a few days later, I can see it more clearly.
When I sat down to draft on January 2nd, I had a swirl of ideas. I realized at some point I had so much that I wanted to say that it was really two Lyon’s Letters worth. I get excited when that happens because it feels like I’m ahead of the game. When I sat down on January 4th to look at what I had, I realized rather than two letters, I had three. “Even better!” I thought. I polished the first letter and sent it out.
Then, on January 8th, I opened up the “second” letter to start moving it from first draft to “ready-to-send.” I found myself writing and writing but when I got to the end, I couldn’t nail down what I wanted to say in the conclusion. “I’ll just set it to the side and come back to this later,” I reassured myself. “No big deal.”
I came back to the draft on January 10th and reread what I wrote. I liked some of it, but not all of it. Worse, I still didn’t know how I wanted to wrap it up. Since I don’t have an office in my house, I work from my couch in the living room. With my three kids and my husband you might think working on the couch would be distracting, but I can usually tune everyone out. Unfortunately, when I struggle with whatever I’m working on, my ability to tune out fades away. Everyone seems louder as if they are purposefully trying to distract me.
“Can you please turn that down,” I beg to my son watching his computer.
“Can’t you see I’m trying to work,” I bark to my poor husband who was only trying to tell me about his day. It’s not pretty.
Writing is generally something I not only enjoy, I seek out. I lie in bed at night and draft in my head. Words are music to me—both written and spoken. Then there are days like January 8th which turned into January 10th which turned into January 11th and January 12th. Days like those I sit there trying to work and rework what I wrote. “What am I trying to say again? What’s my point?” Not only did it feel like I was being tortured, it felt like I was torturing the writing. It was so overworked and yet still so far from the mark. With the deadline of hitting send right around the corner, I contemplated sending out a Letter saying, “Sorry. No Letter this week,” and leaving it at that. I also considered sending, “Though I worked on a draft this week, the letter I intended to send does not feel up to par so there is no Letter this week.”
I don’t think anyone would fault me for that simple statement and I might get some kind words from folks saying, “No worries. I look forward to next week’s Letter.”
Instead, I decided to be fully transparent and fully vulnerable. In case I make my life and my writing look easy, I want to show you that it’s not always as easy as it looks. I’m saying this not to engender sympathy, but rather to say to you that if you’re struggling to do something that is normally easy for you, you’re not alone. People from all stripes for reasons that are similar to yours and also completely different can still relate to hitting a wall or not executing as well as hoped. My lack of finding resolution with the Letter I was working on doesn’t make me a failure, it makes me human. I wanted to share my story with you in case you might be struggling to give yourself the grace that you’re probably showing me right now.
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