A Boot In An Appropriate Place
Written by
Katherine Harms
June 2011
Written by
Katherine Harms
June 2011

I spent the winter avoiding the project I knew I needed to write. I can tap dance around that truth as much as I want, but you won't be fooled. When all is said and done, I just avoided actually writing the project that is in my heart.


I excused myself graciously by pointing out that I had been dreadfully sick, and I needed time to recover. How much time? Who knows? I am almost never sick, so I have little experience by which to make any judgment about recovery time. Furthermore, the whole idea of being sick makes me sick, so I simper and look the other way, and I completely avoid dealing with the fact that I am a writer who is not writing.


After I returned to the US, and after we found a place to call home, and after I completed a non-writing project that had been hanging over my head since last fall, it was time to deal with this writing project. I looked away. I scuffed my feet in the dust. I sharpened pencils and re-arranged my file cards. I bagged up my books and I took them out again and laid them in a tidy, functional arrangement on my work table. Absolutely none of this fidgeting produced even one word of written material. No progress was being made on my project, the project that has rumbled around in my mind and my heart for months. No writing!


This morning after church, I went to the coffee hour. As I stood there trying to decide if I wanted a bagel with raisins or a plain one, I noticed a friend standing on the other side of the table. I hadn't seen her since my return to the US, so I walked around the end of the table and greeted her. I asked, "How are you?" and she said, Oh, I'm fine." She was not fine. I have seen people standing over the rubble of a house destroyed by a tornado who looked happier. Then she asked, "What are you writing these days?"


I almost avoided answering her, because I have not been writing. I have been making notes and arranging notes and letting various and sundry details wander around my head. But I have not been writing. "Oh, I'm working on a book," I said. "Nothing is ready to submit, yet. [What a terrible lie! There is nothing to submit, because there is not even a first draft!] It is about the life of Joseph and how his life teaches us to stop living from crisis to crisis." She looked me right in the eye, and asked, "So, how do you do that?"


Her question is the question I want to answer in my book. The life of Joseph, the character in the Bible, the technicolor dreamcoat guy, is one crisis after another, and my book is about learning the same strategies he used to be strong, to grow in faith, to stop reacting and to get a life. So, I shared with her the outline of the book that has been forming in my mind for months. She said, "Can I read your book when you get it done?" "Sure," I said, but my mouth went dry. If I promise that there will be a book to read, then I must get going on the book.


My friend then opened up about some things that have been happening in her life while I have been gallivanting around and avoiding my responsibilities. Her life has truly been one crisis after another, and she is feeling defeated by all the issues in her family. I realized that she is a person who actually needs the book I feel called to write. She is a person who would immediately recognize if I am writing truth, or if I am blowing smoke.


"I would love for you to be my first reader," I said. "Would you be willing to read with pen in hand and tell me what works and what doesn't?" She smiled. It was a beautiful smile. "Sure," she said. "I am sure it will be a great book."

That was my moment of truth. Have I been given a gift that should be shared with people who are facing crises in their lives, or have I been telling myself a fairy tale for the past six months? One thing is sure. I am accountable now. So here goes the book. I am committed. I have promised someone besides myself that I will put this book on paper and share it with people who need it. Come Monday morning, I have scheduled four hours for writing. I haven't been faithful enough as a writer even to know what four concentrated hours will produce, but for the sake of my commitment to my friend, I am going to find out. Now I realize that this book is not about me. It is about the people who need it. I have made a promise. I must keep my word. It is time to write. There is a a boot in a very uncomfortable location on my derriere. Get going, Katherine.

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  • Katherine,

    I absolutely love this post. The imagery and the way your write is very vivid.For instance, when your wrote the following:

    "She was not fine. I have seen people standing over the rubble of a house destroyed by a tornado who looked happier. Then she asked, "What are you writing these days?"


    I could just see this woman looking very sad. Later, when you told this woman about Joseph and your book, it sounds as if a light came on inside of her, I saw that too. I hope that you do write and finish your book. The world needs it.

  • Michele M. Bunn

    Yes, Yes, Yes - you have captured the essence of why we all write (well, me anyway) because it is bigger than just us and we feel the need to share the message somehow.  My blogs aren't really there yet, but I know its coming and I have so much to learn, but I'm on a fast track to soak it all in.  I just loved what you wrote.  You are committed now!