November 2016 Bonnie Earl took a big leap. She decided to submit a chapter for a book entitled, “When Women Talk”. Once Bonnie made her commitment, she had many mixed emotions. At one point in December she emailed me. “I’m feeling overwhelmed by tight timelines, upcoming travel and self-doubt about what I am going to say. Do I have anything worthwhile to share? Will anyone listen?” Bonnie was leaning into her community of support, and I’m thrilled that I was someone she turned to.
I have much to share about the inner and outer process of writing, especially as I completed my memoir, exploring difficult childhood experiences and mining them for the gold hidden within. Through the Love Your Words [www.languageofyoga.com] coaching program I’ve been part of for the past six+ years, I’ve learned and embodied a powerful manuscript review process that allows me to listen for what’s strong in a piece of writing.
When I gave Bonnie feedback, I reflected back what was strong in her writing, and the words that were particularly powerful to me. I consistently referred to “the narrator of this piece”, even though I knew Bonnie was drawing on her own – difficult to share – experience. Hearing her words treated as a work of fiction allowed Bonnie to step back and take them in, hearing the beauty and power in a new way. I also shared some of my experience with writing about traumatic experiences, reminding Bonnie to consider who she was writing for and why she was choosing to share this transformative time in her life. After our session, Bonnie disclosed that she trusted me with her words, and therefore was able to trust herself.
After implementing her revisions, Bonnie sent her first draft to the anthology book coach for some feedback. The anthology coach’s response? “Excellent writing, excellent storytelling, excellent eliciting emotion and excellent lessons at the end.” Those were very encouraging words. However, Bonnie’s writing process didn’t stop there. She continued to consider her audience and her purpose, revisiting the message she wanted to convey to the readers of Women Talk.
Bonnie came up with another idea, equally powerful, with a different message for women. Again, I was there for her, and Bonnie trusted me with her vulnerable writer-self, sharing more tender pieces of her history. I held space for Bonnie to explore her inner process and supported her to come to a final decision. She chose to submit her second version.
In March 2017, Bonnie submitted her new chapter with final edits. In an email to me, Bonnie reported: “The book editor cried. She loved my chapter. In my opinion, you are the ‘best ever’ writing midwife. In gratitude.”