Boldly Go (or, An Announcement about Your Reckless Encouragement)

I don’t know for sure, but I think Star Trek ruined something in me.

It’s probably Jean-Luc Picard’s fault.

Jean-Luc Picard with his certainty and his strength. Jean-Luc Picard with his strangely perfect bald head and ability to look hot in a unitard. And Jean-Luc Picard with his mesmerizing British accent and deep, compelling voice.

Space, Picard said at the beginning of every Next Generation episode, and I fell into a trance. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

It was the best part of the show, no doubt. That opening sequence. And I bought what Jean-Luc sold. Oh, maybe not the crinkly wrapping; I can do without space travel, I think, what with its lack of air, excess of Earl Grey tea, and affinity for naked wedding ceremonies. But I bought the heart of what Jean-Luc sold. The longing for new life. The belief that other people are worth finding. And especially the desire to boldly go.

Oh, how I long to boldly go.

And oh, how stuck I’ve felt at different check points along life’s journey.

How enmired and entrenched.

How unworthy and small.

How certain that I’m wasting this one life I have.

How frustrated and lonely.

And yet.

And yet, and yet, and yet.

I long to boldly go.

It tugs at the heartstrings, this idea that we dare to venture into uncharted territory. That we explore the edges of our safe space. That we discover new principles and find engaging ways to communicate. That we tell new stories, or find that the old stories are still true in new places.

We ache to boldly go. Don’t we? But we feel sometimes as though all the land has been trampled and used up. Like the space is occupied. Like we’re nothing new or special or unique. That someone else has stories that tell truth better or more thoroughly or even just louder.

So we squash our boldness, and we shove it down, and we tell it that there’s no room for it. No place to go because we’re not inspiring or creative.

We’re bland, we think, and bland and bold don’t go together.

But when we think these things, we’re wrong.

Because we must Boldly Go lest we miss out on life.

And if we walk the paths that others have trod, well then, good for us. Good for us for finding any path at all through the wilderness and for recognizing a way forward. Good for us for honoring the path-makers by smoothing their work and keeping it in good repair.

Sometimes, we must boldly go where others have gone before. I’m starting to suspect that it’s the Bold Going – and not necessarily the space – that defines us.

I’m about to boldly go, you guys. And I’ve been wandering around in internal circles trying to figure out how to tell you. I considered, in fact, not telling you at all. I considered waiting until my Bold Going is a success I can trumpet… or a failure I can roll up in a rug and lug from my house in the dark of night and sink in wet cement at a nearby building site where no one will ever discover what I’ve done. But that’s not how we do things around here, is it? That’s not how this corner of the blogosphere works. We don’t hide our failures and pretend that only successes happen.

So here’s the deal:

I’m quitting the job I love with the organization I adore because I’m writing a book.

I’m writing a book.

It’ll be a book. Written by me.

Most people announce things like this after they have, you know, a book deal. Or interest from publishers in a book deal. Or something more substantive than, “Hey, you guys! I’m taking a giant leap in the dark, and I have no idea where I’ll land!”

I thought about being like most people. But meh. How dull.

Here’s the hard truth I’ve discovered. I want to do a lot of things, and I want to do them all well, but the more things I try to do, the more they all suffer. So I’ve spent months buckling down, thinking, pondering, praying, and talking with Greg. I’ve thought a lot about what’s safe for my family and what’s risky and what role I play in this world. I’ve spent time agonizing over finances and taking deep breaths. And in the end, I decided to take the advice of a wise man who said to me, “Life is full of choices. You can do what’s safe, or you can do what’s right.”

Life is full of choices. You can do what’s safe, or you can do what’s right.

So I’m off to take a chance to do what’s risky and right. Even though it might be a gigantic failure.

I’m going to do what’s risky and write.

I’m going to boldly go, although the Bold Going looks a whole lot like being terrified and choosing to free-fall anyway.

And I’m asking you to jump with me.

Because here’s another truth I know. Writers are only a piece of the book pie. Readers are the ones who make writers’ dreams come true. Readers make us. With every Like on Facebook, every blog comment, every time you share a link online or in person, every HOORAY – KEEP GOING, every encouragement, you help us Go, and you help us find our Boldly.

So you who’ve been my family and my friends for a very long time… and you who’ve become my friends here… you who are my authentic, complex, both/and, hilarious, commiserating, uplifting community… you who’ve asked for this book in comments and e-mails and in person… I am so very grateful for you and your reckless encouragement.

Because it’s not really Jean-Luc Picard’s fault, this risky, risky attempt I’m making.

It’s yours.

And I’m thrilled we’re in this together.

xoxo,
B

P.S. In the weeks to come, I’m assembling a team of folks to help promote this effort. If you want to help, leave a comment below, and I’ll use your e-mail address (private to only me – never, ever shared!) to assemble a list of folks for e-mail updates and to let you know about specific ways you can help. Did I tell you yet how grateful I am for you? I am. So grateful.

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
107 comments
  1. […] and sincere that she will be discovered any minute. And by “discovered” I mean the book she is writing will be bought by a publisher and then fame and fortune and castles and islands will follow. Or I […]

  2. From a fellow mom of 5 (singletons and multiples, special needs, and biological as well as stepchildren), I would be delighted to read your book and offer any help I can. We moms gotta stick together!

  3. […] in their scuffed tennis shoes and same old clothes. We’re pinching pennies right now since I left my job to write, and we’re making financial trade-offs, hoping to travel this fall. New duds didn’t […]

  4. FINALLY!!!! enough said..

    So proud of you!

  5. This is so cool Beth. I recklessly encourage you too!!! I wish you every wonderful success and will be the first to pre-order it on Amazon Japan!

    1. Thanks, Holly! You’ve been such a generous encourager. I’m grateful for you!

  6. Wow! That’s so exciting! I’m so glad to hear you’re writing a book! I would love to help out if I can, even if its only passing the word on to other moms.

    Oh, and this going boldly thing-yeah, my Dh quit his safe job 2 years ago because it was the right thing to do. Things have been difficult financially, but we know it was the right thing to do. So, when it gets hard, just keep swimming. That’s what we tell ourselves anyway.

    I’ve wanted to write a book ever since 7th grade. I just don’t know what to write about. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out and be able to go on the journey you’re taking now.

    1. Thank you, Kristen. You know KNOW what this risk-but-right thing is. Here’s to living fully!

      Regarding writing your book… I find that I hardly ever know what I’m writing ’til I sit down and do it. Write on. A book might fall out. 😉

  7. HI Beth,
    I’m so glad you’re writing a book. You make me laugh & cry, with your insights & your incredible wit! I’d love to help, but not sure how useful I can be on the other side of the world (Australia), but sign me up if I can 🙂
    Justine
    ps. I wish I could meet you irl 🙂

  8. HI Beth,
    I’m so glad you’re writing a book. You make me laugh & cry, with your insights & your incredible wit! I’d love to help, but not sure how useful I can be on the other side of the world (Australia), but sign me up if I can 🙂
    Justine

    1. Thank you, Justine! You’re signed up.
      xo,
      B

  9. Count me in to help, Beth! I also enjoy editing. Not sure why, but I do. I really really really (I mean, REALLY) enjoyed this blog and creative introduction into what you’re up to. I miss you at MTI already, but fully support what you’re doing. I guess what I’m saying… take me along on this BOLD journey with you so I can be bold too. 🙂 Love ya, girl!
    ~Bren

    1. Thank you for coming along on the ride, Brenda! You’re one of the most encouraging women I know, and I’m so glad to have you on my team.
      B

  10. Wow, Beth! I’ve gotten so far behind in my email that I didn’t see this post until today. How exciting! I can’t wait to read your book and give a bunch of copies away as gifts to other moms! Though I don’t know you, I feel like we’re friends because of how open and encouraging you are here (and in the comments you sometimes leave on my blog). Thank you for that gift to all of us, your readers. I would love to help out! I see you already have a number of potential editors/proofreaders, but if you need it, I’d be happy to do either. Before having kids, I worked for a few years as the stylistic editor and proofreader for an airline in-flight magazine. (You’ve probably never heard of the airline, Ukraine International Airlines. Most of my work consisted of taking extremely awkward translated English and turning it into polished, native English, an expertise you obviously would not need, but I’m also good at what I think they call copy editing in the United States, spotting missing commas and apostrophes and such.) Please keep me in the loop–if nothing else, I’ll help by promoting your book on Facebook, on my blog, and to every mom I know who reads English. 🙂
    Blessings to you,
    Sharon

    1. Thank you, thank you, Sharon! For your encouragement, for your understanding that we REALLY ARE friends from afar (this is SO what this is about!), and for your kind offer to proofread. I’m so grateful for awesome mamas like you here.
      xo,
      B

  11. so, you’ll have to forgive me for not keeping up daily, what with number 2 having been born a month ago and all, but OMG i am so excited about this announcement. i know you will write it AND that you will get a book deal when it’s done!!!! i can’t wait to read it. and if you want another pair of eyes to read and critique an early version (or several, or sections, or what have you), i am willing. that’s a serious offer, so keep it in mind for when the time comes. 🙂

    1. No forgiveness needed… there’s only grace here, mama! And CONGRATULATIONS on your 2nd little one. I’ll certainly keep your offer to read in mind, and I’m so appreciative of your kind words AND your time in making this comment, because believe me when I tell you that I KNOW in my bones how little time we mamas have when babies are born.

      Sending you x’s and o’s,
      B

  12. I just left you my first comment yesterday and I have no idea how I missed this post until today. I am currently editing a non-fiction book proposal for a well-recognized and well-published physician. I would be hugely honored to be involved with your book if you would allow me. As I mentioned yesterday, I am a huge fan of your writing.

    1. Thank you, Kendall! I so appreciate your support, wonderful words and offer of specific help. Don’t be surprised if I drop you a note.

  13. […] told you I quit my job because I’m going to write. I didn’t know that I quit my job just in time because they were gonna haft to fire me for […]

  14. I will help in every way possible!!! yay!

  15. I would love to help : ) Thanks!

  16. I would love to help out!! Sign me up!

    I can’t wait for your book. Hurry up and write it, ok?! 🙂

    1. OK! 😀

      Thank you, thank you, Suzanne!

  17. Count me in among your helpers! I’m so excited for your book already.

    1. Kayla, you are always so kind and gracious with your encouragement. THANK YOU for continuing to offer it. I’m grateful.

  18. I am so proud of you. Our family has made a similar leap with my husband leaving his well paid, and yet soul draining, job to work for himself with no money in the savings and no guarantees However, we have faith in each other and in this Universe and all the good things that are just out there for the taking for those who are bold enough to go where no one has gone before. Or, at least, jump with both feet into the unknown. Just remember that when you get the feeling that the bottom has dropped out, and you are in free fall, it is just your soul setting itself free! Let go, enjoy the ride!! I would love to help in anyway I can be of service. I am going to post this on a life coaching site that I belong to on face book. I know many of those folks share this longing and many have left safe vocations to pursue dreams. It’s risky business, but not as risky as what it might be like if you just keep on with the status quo and never find out what you can do. Good luck! I know you will fly!

    1. Love this, Laura… “Just remember that when you get the feeling that the bottom has dropped out, and you are in free fall, it is just your soul setting itself free! Let go, enjoy the ride!”

      Thank you for sharing your story and for your support and for your AWESOME kind words.

  19. <3 yes, please! Write a book! I so desperately long to write something. I just don’t know what yet. I would LOVE to help you, especially as a sounding board for ideas, thoughts, paragraphs, whatever! I’ll spread the word no matter what. 🙂 Good luck!

    1. oops. apparently I don’t know how stop italicizing something.

      1. Bahaha! This comment is SO ME, Kristi!

        Thank you for the support and love and meeting me in a parking garage. You are GREAT.

  20. Way to go Beth! Love the leap. I’m here to help. And put me down for a case of ’em once printed. I’ll be sharing the love and laughs.

    1. Thank you, thank you, Julie!

  21. It was definitely perfect timing to read your blog today. Thank you for writing it. Today is day 149 of post going boldly for me. And today is the day that I want to completely turn and run back and give up the going boldly. Because it is HARD.
    Your words have encouraged me greatly! Given me some hope for today. Because there is a plan. Much bigger than I can dream up.
    “Because we must Boldly Go lest we miss out on life.”
    Yes, we must!
    I am so looking forward reading about the details and success of you going boldly. Because to even take one step forward makes you a success. Going boldly is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard, but we can do hard!
    Thank you for the deep belly laughs and for sharing your life.

    1. I probably ought to write a post about the fact that, sometimes, Going Boldly looks a lot like running for the hills and slowing down and stopping and turning back toward the goal and hanging my head and walking back downhill toward Courage again. I wish Going Boldly was a linear trip, but it’s tricky, right? Let’s Go Boldly together, tied like rock climbers so we don’t fall all the way when we stumble.

      Thank you for the honesty AND the support, Sarah. You’re right – just one step forward at a time.

  22. Yay! Congrats, Beth!!! So excited to read your book. Would love to help with promotion. Can’t wait to order my own copy!!!

    1. Thank you, Katie! Very grateful for you!

  23. Beth,
    I have so enjoyed you posts. I can’t wait for the book. It will be a definite must read for my book group of seventeen years. There are ten of us. Some will need an e version while some of us want the smell and feel of an actual book.
    Looking forward to hearing more!

    1. Lisa, you’re already SUCH a good promoter… so, so glad to have you on the team. Thank you.

  24. So incredibly awesome!!! You totally have all the potential needed to succeed. I was wondering when you were going to write a book. I can’t wait to read it!!!!

  25. Just to let you know I’m still reading! I don’t comment because there are so many comments already and I don’t have time to read them. You, go girl…..

    1. Thank you, Janelle. You were one of my earliest cheerleaders. You and Sally. Always asking when, when, when I’d blog again. You were one of the first who helped me Go Boldly and BELIEVE. I’m perpetually grateful for you.

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