I’m writing a book. It’s my third book. You’d think after writing two books it would get easier, but oh no, it does not get easier.
I have been working on it for six months. Two days ago I hit “rock bottom.” I was lying on the couch complaining and talking about quitting while my wife breastfed our son (she should really bill me for these sessions) and at the end, I was so full of self-loathing that I thought, “Fuck it, if it sucks it sucks” and I then drank a bunch of wine and ate dinner and went to bed.
The next morning in the shower the structure finally hit me, and luckily the kid was down for a nap, so I wrote some notes in dry erase on the bathroom mirror, then I got dressed, sat at my laptop and banged out the table of contents. All crap that I had in my head, crap that I should’ve had down months ago. It wasn’t perfect and it still needs work, but holy shit, there’s something.
Later in the day I tweeted, “Can’t tell if I always have a breakthrough the day after rock bottom, or if every day after a rock bottom just feels like a breakthrough.”
Then today Karen McGrane posted this piece, “Give a crap. Don’t give a fuck.” As she writes, she hit a personal low, was a complete mess, and she needed to give a talk the next day. “Twelve hours later, I was on stage. The only thing that got me up there was this thought: ‘Fuck it. I can do this.’”
I had to be forced into a place where I simply did not give a fuck in order to find out what I was really capable of… What elevates someone’s work from “technically excellent” to “truly great” is the extent to which you feel like you’re seeing them live their truth, be fully themselves… Jason Scott, the historian and digital archivist, told me at Webstock that a fitting epitaph for his headstone would be: “He gave a crap. He didn’t give a fuck.”
“Give a crap. Don’t give a fuck.” Our new mantra.