My Heart In the Marketplace

“What comes up, way down at the bottom, is that my heart is still broken from bringing out Writing Down the Bones.”  I gasp. I clutch at my heart. What is this you say, Natalie Goldberg? Broken hearted from producing Writing Down the Bones?

This is the book I have bought so many times over, and I’ve given these copies to many of my friends who could be writing or should be writing or I just want them to think about writing for my own selfish motive of getting to read their words.

And here, in her book Thunder and Lightning, she begins with a warning: she has never gotten over the heartbreak of writing that beloved book that sits tattered on my cover and sewn into my writing life.

“All I feel is aching. I was so innocent – I didn’t know what it meant to put my heart in the marketplace,” she says.

Well, if ever some words will stop me in my tracks, it is these from my favorite writing mentor as my book will be released in something just over 20 days.

Is my heart about to break? Do I have no idea how innocent I am, and will I only learn of my naivete when I’ve put my heart in the marketplace?

And Life Comes Back is generous in all it gives away. Some of my first critics have said, “Oh, Tricia, your vulnerability. I read with a lump in my throat, so aware of all that you were so generously giving away.” And, “I read thinking, ‘sweet girl, you’ve said so much.'” Indeed, I have said so much.

Metaphorically speaking, my heart is about to be available everywhere books are sold.

My friend Natalie Goldberg (you know how I call my favorite authors by their first name once we’ve become so deeply acquainted? I somehow always call her by her first and last. Natalie Goldberg. Always Natalie Goldberg.) continues on that same page, “And now this? Art leads to suffering? But it was true. I’d seen it again and again. I don’t know any writer who’s happy. But what else is there to do?”

I ask the same question: But what else is there to do? Live silently, quietly, and let nothing come of the truth that I know?

Not write? Ha. As if.

Many people have asked me in the last week or so, “Are you ready, Trish?” “Are you ready for your books to hit the shelves?” “Are you prepared?” “Have you done all the things you can do to get ready for the big release?”

Well, I have no idea, you scary people who think out loud.

I feel like I’m standing at the edge of the water, watching the tide roll in. “A wave is coming,” everyone says. “Are you ready? Get ready! Brace yourself!”

How do you prepare yourself for such a tidal sloshing?

Well, in my summers at the beach and my honeymoons at the ocean, I’ve learned just a little about the waves. The greatest lesson is this: if I resolve to stand still and keep my toes firmly planted in the sand, then first of all, the sand is going to erode beneath the soles of my feet in a creepy-crawly way that feels like something is eating at my foundations. And then, even as I stand where I am and fight the current, I’ll get knocked to the ground, the sand will burn its signature into my knees elbows and left shoulder, and I’ll come up sputtering and coughing salt water.

But. If I go a little deeper and let the water wash over me, if I pick up my feet and roll with the waves, if I keep in mind that this is bigger than me, then I’m in for a great and wild ride for however long the wave will roll. That’s the rush that keeps me coming back for more, wave after wave, day after day, summer after summer.

My first book is released in a matter of days. So, my heart could get broken, sure. Natalie Goldberg’s certainly did.

But here’s what I know: when the clock strikes midnight and the calendar turns to February 18, the day of the grand release, I’ll be the same girl. I’ll pack lunches and take my kids to school, if I’m lucky we will arrive just after the second bell, and I will come back home, pour a hearty amount of cream into my morning coffee, and start writing again.

God will do what he will do, and there’s no controlling the waves around me.

So I might as well kick up my feet and feel the rush.

Somehow I Didn’t Punch Him In the Neck

So, remember when I was all lit about about the book When We Were on Fire?

And I invited all of you to read it and join me for a giant book club discussion over lattes and scones at the world’s biggest Starbucks which might just be in my imagination and an ethereal dream?

I’m still pretty fired up about this memoir.

(No pun intended.)  (Okay, yes it was.)  (It always is.)

Addie Zierman has become one of my favorite authors and contemporary theologians, and (…wait for it…) she invited me to write a guest post on her blog, to her audience, for the people who call her well-written and wise.

Today is the debut: Somehow I Didn’t Punch Him In the Neck.

Please go to Addie’s blog, and give yourself the pleasure of a virtual stroll.  Give her some love.

And order her book.


Blog Too Much?

“Do you think you blog too much?” An excellent question, posed by one of my mentors and greatest voices in my life.

I have to admit, my first response was monotone and choppy:  Blog Too Much. Does Not Compute.

There are some theories on blogging, on presence on the internet, building your platform, and creating your brand. Some of the gurus are suggesting we all back off a bit. Blog three or four times a week. Don’t flood the inboxes, or you’ll just smell like spam. There are business models of supply and demand, publishing once a week, letting your readers wait and crave and want.

I just don’t think that’s my gig.

I didn’t start blogging because it was a business model. I didn’t aim to build a platform.

I started blogging because I’m a writer and I needed to write. It’s like breathing, for me. It’s part of what I do. When I’m making dinner or stuck in traffic or dancing in my living room or hanging artwork, I don’t stop breathing just because I’m doing something else right now. It’s what I do – nearly involuntarily. Writing is breathing.

I started blogging because I’m a writer, and writers need readers, no matter what they tell you.

And then I met you.

Maybe someone forwarded a post to you with one line, asking you to read with them.
Maybe you found this clothesline of dirty laundry, and you binge-read every post from day one to the present.
Maybe you sign in on Saturday night after work, your date with me, your date with yourself, and you catch up on a week’s worth of stories.
Maybe you drink coffee with me every morning.
Maybe you stepped into a bookstore to step out of the rain, and you found yourself on these shelves.
Maybe you read a sentence and said, maybe for the first time, “Yes. That’s it. What she said. That’s what I wanted to say, what I’m trying to say, what I want my world to know.”
Maybe you joined the trenches when the bottom fell out of my world, and you were one of the invisible community who joined hands to form an unbreakable safety net, that I may never truly hit the ground.

There are people who give less as a strategy to sell more.
There are people who say “Authors write books, not blogs.”
There are people who create their brand and never vary from it.
These people are successful. And I applaud them for their strategy… since mostly, I don’t have a strategy. I’ve just got to do this.

For me, less isn’t more. More is more.
Authors write books and blogs.
My brand is Life Everyday,
Tell It How It Happened,
Say What You Mean,
and Think Out Loud.
Be There and Be Honest.
Read Every Comment and Email;
This is a Dialogue, not a Monologue.
Speak and Listen.
Write and Read.
Love and Be Loved.

You dropped into my life one day, and you didn’t leave. And here we are. Somehow, this ‘brand’ became a Relationship.

I’m in.

Do I blog too much? Probably.
But I’ll be back tomorrow. And the next day.
This is what we do, you and me.

Upon Request

If you called me and said, “Hey, Tricia?  We’re doing a craft show or a rummage sale or a bake sale or a yard sale or a fundraiser of any kind, and we would love for you to contribute.  What can you give us?”


I would first feel compelled to make something,

or give something of value, 

or give away something I have plenty more of,

or contribute something altruistic that would do my heart good.


And today, I know what that would be.  I would set up a writing booth at your event.  I would have reams of paper, great pens, a timer, and a sign:


Poetry Upon Request

You Choose the Topic, I’ll Write for You.


And, in the vision I have of this whole fantastical wish, people would line up, pay $1.00 (and the proceeds would go to your benefit, of course), give me a topic, and set the timer for two minutes for me to write and write and write.


They would ask me to write about anything.


or jelly beans

or cotton candy

or butterflies

or friendship

or love

or tummies

or books

or school

or justice

or parenting

or boys

or girls

or grace

or anger

or breakups

or green beans.


Anything they choose.  And I would write with the practice of zero selfconsciousness, and I would hand off my work at the end of the two minutes.


Even if it was something good that I might like to keep, I would give it away.


And maybe a few people would like what I gave them, 

and she would hang it on her bathroom mirror 

or he would carry it in his wallet.


And I would have made something, given something of value, 

given away something I have plenty more of,

and contributed something altruistic that would do my heart good.


That’s what I would do.