Sunday, September 25, 2016

Step One: Write the Book

When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers entered me in a poetry contest for a kid's literary magazine. She didn't tell me about it, and several years later, a teacher pulled me out of class and took me to the principal's office where they handed me a copy of the magazine, and there was my oddball little poem about an aging leaf. It was called, "The Leaf." Man, was I clever. I also got a little check.
From that moment on, I knew that one day, I would write a book. I've always written and told stories, even when life and career took me in a lot of different directions. I have piles upon piles of what my family refers to as "giblets of paper" of partly-finished short stories, the beginning chapters of sappy novels, terrible poems about love lost, and loads of little notes like, "Two people sitting in a doctor's office. They both have aging parents. They fall in love." Or, "Man with large nostrils holding a women's magazine. He's chewing on a bagel." Stuff like that. A LOT of stuff like that.
I started my personal blog several years ago in an effort to write on a regular basis. It gets neglected on a regular basis, but it has been a great format to put together words and share ideas. At the nudging of a friend, I ended up writing for the Huffington Post, and though they don't pay a red cent and that irritates me to no end, it's an easy format for sharing ideas with larger audiences. It also allows me the pleasure of treading terribly cruel reader comments from grown men who live in their mother's basements and think women shouldn't be able to make choices about their bodies. 
So I try not to read the comments. A super amazing writer gave me that advice early on, and boy, she's right.
In 2014, I attended a blogging conference in New York. The decision to go was made at the last minute, and everyone in my family completely got on board. Like Billy Ray Cyrus, I left town with a satchel full of dreams, eager to learn and network and get inspiration to continue the book I've been working on for a very long time.
At the conference in the exhibit hall, I stumbled onto a booth called The mission of the My Intent Project is to be a catalyst for meaningful conversations and positive energy. On the spot, the owner, Chris Pan, asked me to pick a word that symbolized my intent so he could make it into a bracelet for me. I probably should have picked "peace" or "compassion" or something much more symbolic but I knew my word right away.
Life got in the way, but the inner voice to focus didn't go away at all. The book I originally started began to feel stale, and I decided to recommit. In February, I had a job that was slowly sucking my soul dry, so I left that job. I made the commitment to work part time as a freelance writer, and devote true energy and purpose to my book.
In February, I had a formal little ceremony with myself where I put on the intention bracelet and started setting goals. The bracelet certainly wasn't going to write the book for me. Aside from airport security and showers, I've worn it every day. I need to replace it with a new rope because it's getting mighty shabby. Every day I twist and turn it, and darn it if it hasn't helped me focus like crazy. 
I set a goal date of September 21 to complete the book after creating a competitive contest with a friend who is also writing a book. We agreed the end of summer was a reasonable goal, and I have to admit, I was pushing it pretty hard that last week. Obviously, procrastination is kind of a thing with me. With help from friends, I decided to shift the focus away from a step parenting book to a book of humorous essays. 
Last week, on September 21, I finished my book. I finished it! It's 211 pages and 29 chapters and I even wrote an intro and I finished! 
I have too many people to thank for being my dream-pushers. So many girlfriends who know how important it has been for me to complete a book. My amazingly patient husband, Tim. My stepchildren and my kids and my mother and sister and I could go on for days. Even if all I do is run a few copies and staple them together for friends and family, I feel very much like my dear friend Candace's daughter Kendall, who said when she was a very little kid, "I'm so proud of me."
It's very hard to say where things will go from here. Quite honestly, I'm realistic and I understand it may go nowhere. But I'm persistent. I like connecting with people. I have a lot of work to do to grow my audience and I'll likely start with those of you who've been kind enough to read my blogs for the past few years. Bear with me during periods where I get obnoxious and it appears I am self-serving. I know it comes with the territory, as I know quite a few writers, and they have to be self-serving and let's face it, some days, that is irritating. I mean, this entire post is about me. It's irritating, but stick with me and one day, you may be sitting and reading my book and having a laugh. That's my goal.
Enough about me. What is your intention? 
If I can help inspire you in any way, please reach me. Pick your word and make it happen. I'm proof that it's possible, if you just show up and do the work.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! I have so many unfinished writing projects. Thanks for the motivation to see them through!