Is this. This is the first picture of my manuscript, such as it is. My friend Cindy told me that this is what they all look like in the beginning – highlighted, penned, tabbed, glued, taped, and post-it-noted everywhichway.
When I began thinking of writing a book, I had no idea what that process would be – emotionally, logistically, physically, mentally – none of it. I’d never written anything longer than 20-25 pages (grad school, obvs) and ended up not even writing a thesis. But the feeling that this is the right path, the way forward, was never in question. This has happened before – where the choice is a given, but the path is unseen – and it has always proven harder, richer, and more meaningful than I could have imagined.
In a way, this piece of writing is the thesis I never wrote. I didn’t write it when I finished school, but the desire to write about peace education, a pedagogy of peace, has driven me for years. Now, I have what I didn’t have then – experience. Finding the academics is the easy part. Putting them into a practical, useful context is the more difficult, almost impossible part. Without the experience of the last several years, I would have just been another idealist producing a precious piece of writing that had no deep grounding in reality, or in anyone’s lived experience.
Now, though, I’ve been able to experience, to feel and live so much of the theory, and see what makes a difference and what doesn’t. I’ve felt for years that I had something to add to this field, and I’m overwhelmed every time I go back and read some of the pieces I’ve written. That may sound narcissistic, but I’ve never had the experience of channeling the creative, then going back and saying “did I really write this?” because surely nothing that profound came from my mind…
It’s not always easy – there are times where I hear someone else talking about something similar, or saying something incredibly articulate and thoughtful, and I think “What do I possibly have to say to add to that?” But I know that self-doubt is part of the process, and the important thing is to keep working regardless of the monkey blathering in my ears. So I look at this picture often, and think about how hard the last few years have been. If I went through all that so I can be here, now, creating this piece of work – there’s no way but forward.