Two years ago I sat on a grassy hill listening to the roar of jets above me. Dave and I had taken our boys to the Cleveland air show and along with other frugal Clevelanders, we had parked ourselves on a grassy slope across from there all the other fools were paying admission to listen to the same jets. Oswald would cry when one would suddenly zoom overhead, the noise too much for my baby.
Watching Reuben roll down the hill with other kids who were enjoying a day off from school on Labor day, I sat feeling anxious, pent up and like I needed to let go of whatever was binding me. I had been working on my book for 8 months- this idea of spiritual formation and evangelism and something about the significance of water. I knew it wasn’t quite right- but I couldn’t shake off what exactly it was that needed to be different. I was trying- I was writing- butt in the chair, laptop fired up. Yet it just didn’t seem to be coming out like I wanted it.
We bought ice cream from the ice cream truck that had pulled up to the bottom of the hill- a rare treat to splurge on fancy spiderman pops with gum ball eyes for the Reuben. We had gone through foreclosing on our house the year before and white-knuckled it through a year of paying two mortgages and dealing with a shady and deceitful rental management company. It felt good to finally be able to say yes to our son’s pleading request when he heard the electronic tinkling of the ice cream truck.
The blue angels flew overhead in a fancy formation. “why don’t you just send it?” Dave asked. “I don’t know- I guess I’m just scared to send it, that I’ll be rejected.” I answered- unbuckling Oz from his stroller to hold him thinking about what it would mean to send out my book submission and have someone give it the thumbs down. “Seriously Jess, is it ever going to be ready? Just send it in and see where it goes” Dave looked at me, a husband hopeful to have his wife released from the grip of creative angst. “Just send it.”
His words brought release- what was going to happen if I sent it to the editor to approve it? I would be moving forward- that’s what. We drove home. I opened my laptop and pressed send. Releasing that weird little book idea to my editor. Released from the fear of failure.
Two years later, almost to the day I pressed send. A completely different book from where I started- it had evolved into my first official book submission to InterVarsity press- Beautiful Feet. A real book contract, a real deadline. Actually, my husband pressed send because I was having trouble formatting it and he fixed it for me, attached the file to my editor Al and hit send.
I spazzed out for a moment- shaking my fists at him, wishing I could have enjoyed the cathartic moment to press send- the moment I’d been waiting for since I got the contract. Yet being married- and watching my husband endure my emotional distance because I was in my head with my ideas, my crankiness from getting up early to write in a quiet house, my self-loathing that what I was writing was crap-o-la, and my narcissism that not only was my writing awesome, it was going to kick the shit out of the NY Times Bestseller list some day.
He pressed send. Because this book is his as much as it is mine. A labor of love, prayer, creativity, and lots and lots of wasabi coated almonds.