Birthing your dream

It’s early on the first morning of the second writing retreat I’ve been on this year with my friend Lonna.

Last time I went in with trepidation—would I be able to do any writing? Would it be garbage? Would I waste this precious time and have nothing to show for it?

Turns out, as I always say, that leaving my regular routine and environment, even for just a couple of days, allowed my brain to move into a different series of mental rooms where ideas I’d never considered live. It helped that Lonna challenged to me to try a different writing style, too.

This time, I’m feeling a buzzy, extraordinarily hopeful energy. Writing breakthroughs are not only likely but probable.

I understand why writing a book, or really undertaking any big project, is often compared to incubating and birthing a baby: there’s an expectation and knowledge of what the end product will generally be, but the details are unknown for much of the process.

I’m working with a coach from the Author Accelerator program. She gave me a series of questions to answer. Thanks to that, I now know the journey this book will take. I can see point A, leading to point B, which will lead to point C and so on.

At least that’s the path I believe it will take as I stand here at this early stage, looking as far ahead as I can.

I see the grainy outline of what appears to be an alien-like life form—the major features visible: arms, legs, nose, a beating heart. But I don’t yet know what color this baby’s hair is. How many fingers and toes will appear at the end of those arms and legs. What shape the ears will be.

None of that will reveal itself until after the arduous period of labor, moments of which will be surprisingly easy. Contractions will appear on the monitors but will be indistinguishable…until they’ll grow in strength and length, becoming all-consuming, excruciating and taking an indeterminate amount of time to subside, ultimately resulting in a living, breathing, wailing baby rushing into the world.

2024 is the year I write this memoir. I have a working title. I’ve mapped out the major moments. I’ve imagined my ideal reader and where the book will live in a bookstore. I’ve written the book jacket copy. I’ve uncovered my why, for both my audience and myself.

The nursery is set up. The stroller, the bassinet, the changing table have been purchased and are waiting to service this as-yet-unknown baby. There are still other items to acquire: a car seat, blankets, diapers, bibs, tiny nail clippers, bottles and all the things new parents can’t even anticipate.

I have approximately eight more months to grow this memoir, to nurture it, talk sweetly to it, encourage it with my thoughts and actions.

I also understand that in these months, there will be surprises I couldn’t have anticipated. Just because I think I’m ready and the path appears mapped out doesn’t mean I won’t encounter unexpected detours.

My carefully constructed blueprint can’t possibly address and anticipate everything. Plans I’m sure will work now might prove to be unusable when tasked with carrying this memoir from start to finish. Hopefully I’ll conceive of ideas more valuable than anything I’ve yet imagined at this early juncture.

One good thing about a pregnancy and delivery is that they both have to end…eventually.

Writing doesn’t have that clean conclusion point, but giving myself a due date as well as making time to regularly get away and write is all part of the developmental process.

Babies and books are born every day. Millions of them.

I didn’t know how in the world I was going to deliver a baby, bring it home and raise it, but now, more than 28 years later, I can hardly remember life before that day, and all the unknowns and fear are a distant memory.

Here’s hoping for the same experience with this memoir, too.

How about you?

What project are you contemplating? What idea do you want to conceive?

Very few things, including babies, arrive without preparing, putting in the effort and showing up to labor through.

Is it hard work?


Is it worth it?

That’s for you to decide.

But do carefully determine if not doing something for fear of the hard work and what ifs outweighs just getting going. Doing nothing rarely satisfies more than getting to the other side of the labor and having something (or someone) to show for it.

Strawberry blonde hair; Dedication page. Ten fingers and toes; Chapters 1-22. Perfectly shell-shaped ears; My book on the shelves of bookstores across the country.

Imagine your project, tangible and complete. Get moving today so you can be present when it takes its first deep breath of air and howls out to the world, heralding its arrival.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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