failing or not failing at projects

So hey, you know what we’ve never talked about? That book I’m supposed to write.

Do you remember the book in question? The one where bluishorange readers contributed money for me to take a road trip all the way around the country and write a book about it? And I took the money and used it to go on the road trip in 2007 but haven’t finished the book? Yeah, that one.

I’ve written about 1/3 of the book. I think if you calculate it by word, that’s something like ten words every day for the last six years. Obviously that’s not what I’ve been doing, but that is a very, very slow average writing time. Suffice it to say, it isn’t going very well.

Or it wasn’t, anyway. For a long time I assumed that I’d never finish it; that’d I’d totally failed. Then two things happened.

1) I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Reading that amazing book upset me at first, because it’s basically the exact book I pictured myself writing, only better. But then I thought, hey, if she can write a book about a trip she took years earlier, then maybe I can, too.

2) I went to XOXO. You guys, that place was filled with people who were doing projects, who had started projects and stopped them, who had projects they were supposed to be working on, whose projects consumed most of their waking time. Projects, projects, projects all over the place.

These people were brilliant and amazing. Brilliant and amazing people often intimidate me, but these brilliant and amazing people seemed to think I was okay. Some of them even might have thought I was brilliant and amazing, too. If they can work on their projects and/or abandon them and come back to them later, who’s to say I can’t do the same thing?

I felt really guilty about The Book Situation for a long time. I took money from people in exchange for something I never did! I don’t even know some of those people anymore. What must they think of me? But I’ve decided that “something I never did” isn’t an accurate way to describe the book. I’d rather describe it as “something I haven’t completed yet.”

Because I will do it! I will. If a kooky lady who changed her last name to Strayed can do it, then so can I. It might take me a long time, but I’m going to do it.

I’m telling you all this now because…I have a Kickstarter. I’ve started my own line of sustainable jewelry, and I’m trying to raise money to expand my business to include wholesale customers.

I was so, so reluctant to post about it here, because I knew that some of my more long-term readers would see it and think, hey, didn’t she ask for money before? She did, you guys. She asked for money to go on a road trip, she took the trip, it was two of the best months of her life, and she’s still not finished with the book.

I am going to finish the book, but I am also going to have a successful jewelry business! I am making jewelry from recycled or sustainable materials, and I’m using recycled packaging and marketing materials, too. You can read all about it on my Kickstarter page, where there’s more information and a lovely video that my sister Megan made.

Megan is a genius.  All I did was write a script and give it to Megan, and then she made all sorts of notes on it about which parts would be talking head and which parts would be B-roll. When she said B-roll I almost fainted, I was so impressed. We shot it and then she edited the whole thing together and set it to music. When she gave it to me for feedback, it was perfect. I didn’t even need her to change anything! Sometimes I’m surprised that the two of us came from the same parents.

Anyway, I’m telling you about this because I do need more backers, and it would be kind of a waste not to post about it here. This is a totally different project from the book, but I understand if you helped me out before and you’re feeling a bit burned.

But if you are not feeling burned, I’d appreciate some help. This is a project I’m really excited about, that I really believe in. The rewards are pretty good, too! They’ll make super Christmas gifts if jewelry’s not your thing.

Thanks, readers! ILY.

my year in cities 2007

In any other year, this list would be boring as all hell. Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, it would say, and who cares about that? But this year I went all over everywhere on my roadtrip, so I’m going to make a list. It’d be impossible to list all the places I drove through, so I’m only going to count cities where I spent the night. Asterisks are for places I visited more than once.

Fort Stockton, TX
Las Cruces, NM
Phoenix, AZ
Los Angeles, CA
Santa Barbara, CA
San Francisco, CA
St. Helena, CA
Eureka, CA
Portland, OR
Seattle, WA
Missoula, MT
Cody, WY
Rapid City, SD
Alliance, NE
Omaha, NE
St. Louis, MO *
Decatur, IL
Chicago, IL
Columbus, OH
Detroit, MI
Toronto, ON
Syracuse, NY
Royalton Tunbridge, VT
Peaks Island, ME
Somerville, MA
New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Washington, D.C.
Atlanta, GA
Oxford, MS
New Orleans, LA
Houston, TX *
Dallas, TX *
Cleburne, TX

things I’m trying to remember

1. How happy I was to cross the Texas state line into New Mexico. As soon as I saw the sad, weathered welcome sign, I couldn’t stop smiling.

2. How scary it was to drive on I-10 through San Gorgino Pass, windy as hell and terribly beautiful. I could barely keep my car from flying off the road, but I couldn’t stop staring at the windmills.

3. What it felt like in Wyoming, on top of the clouds.

4. How funny it was when “I Am a Rock” came up on my iPod when i drove through the Badlands.

5. How I could barely see through the windshield when I drove through that storm in Mississippi. My sister called and I said, “I’ll have to call you back, unless I die first.”

6. How I must have looked on the final night of my trip, on the patio at the Harp in Houston,when it really hit me that I’d set out to do this and had done it, and done it successfully, and Freddy said, “I’ve never seen that look on your face before.”

I was going to complain that real life is making it hard for me to remember these things, but that’s not really true. No, I can remember them whenever I want, and sometimes the remembering is almost as vivid as the experiences themselves. What real life interferes with is the writing. How can I reconcile what I did with what I’m doing right now? Montana and Vermont and Wyoming and Louisiana can’t coexist in my brain with driving to the office with my mug of coffee, or eating leftovers at my desk for lunch, or doing laundry or dishes or paying my bills.

I don’t know how to do this.