Back in 1996, when my mother was 59, her doctors diagnosed her with cancer. In the next breath they told her there was nothing they could do and that she very likely only had weeks to live. I became obessed with wanting her to know what kind of mother she’d been. What kind of impact she’d made on me, my little sister—Carol—our father, and everyone we knew.
Not wanting to waste a minute, I grabbed a sheet of paper and feverishly put down this love-letter list, which I read both to her, and aloud at her memorial weeks later.
I share this here for a few reasons:
1). To send my beloved Joanne Tisch my undying mama love on this beautiful Mother’s Day weekend.
2). To let you mothers out there know that it’s the small things you do that make such a profound difference. Your kids are watching and holding your sacrifices in their minds + hearts (even if they regularly throw tantrums and call you names). Believe me!
3). To inspire you to put pen to paper (or fingers on keyboard) for your own mother. We never know how much time we have left to let them hear us sing their praises.
Thank you for holding my mother + hopefully yours, too, in your heart as you read this:
Dearest Mom, I thought you might want to know a few of the reasons I love you—past and present. Here goes:
I love your laugh. I love the way you support me, always. I love hearing your voice (nobody has it but you).
I love the way you always answered all of my questions as a kid. And the way you cooked for us—always yummy—walking Leo before we woke up, and having breakfast and lunch ready before we went to school.
And the way you drove me everywhere. And swam with me (“fishy, fishy”). And read to me. And waited for me to come home from school, and listened to my day with interest. (And still do.)
And the way you bought me tons of stuff. And told Dad not to make me clean my room. I love how you took me to Shoup Park. And comforted me when it rained and we couldn’t go.
I love how you tucked me in at night, every night. And how you would come home late sometimes, and hug me with your fake fur that smelled like perfume after going out on the town.
I love how you glowed with joy when walking with your toes in the wet sand. With Dad not far off, in his shoes and socks. I love how you pointed out shells and seaweed, followed by a walk up Ocean Avenue.
I love the way you ask for guidance, and admit you’re not perfect. And the way you are eating healthy foodstuffs and doing your affirmations.
I love the way you send Tosh little notes and packs of gum. And, football and basketball Easter chocolates. And how you write us letters beginning with “Dear Dolls.”
And how you type labels on the tapes you send us. And how you save (and recycle) water and foil and plastic bags and paper towels. And how you notice little plants and bugs.
And how you put spiders outside without harming them. And how you always have fresh flowers in the house. And, the smell of roses in the garden. And how you taught me to love planting things. And, cooking and cleaning and mothering.
And how you are such a good host at dinner parties. And how you laugh at Dad’s jokes, time and time again.
And how you let me tackle you as a teenager on the front porch. And trusted me to stay out late at night. And picked me up so I didn’t have to drive home tipsy. And how you would wave at me from the front porch, or from the road, depending on how long I’d be gone.
And how you fed all of my friends and me whenever we wanted. And how you’d let me eat a loaf of toast after track practice. And how you’d make me salad for breakfast. Or sit next to me on the bathroom floor when I had cramps from my period.
And how you taught me to love talk shows and interviews. And to love books so now I can write them. And how you taught me that a good walk feels wonderful.
And showed me how to get up each morning with a smile, and energy to do the day’s work well.
And how to type (by example) really fast. And how to stay married and support my family. And how to pray at night before bed. And how to appreciate the rain with all my heart, putting all the indoor plants outside to have a drink.
I love how you’d shop at the funky health food stores (that are now all the rage). And make lumpy carob-chip, oatmeal cookies that tasted better than the smooth kind. And swim for hours on end with your grandson, answering all his questions about your swim cap. And the little red hat you wear in the cold. And your socks and flannel pajamas that are so cozy to hug.
And the way you keep your home so clean and nice, always open for my family. I love how you were gracious when I dropped the Tisch from my name, or stopped my studies in college, understanding my need to be independent.
And how you acted goofy around my husband when you met him, like he was Robert Redford. Or at the very least, like the man taking your financial burden away (hee hee). I love the way you’ve taught me to love the theater and movies. And those who make them. And act in them.
I love how your little nose gets tan in the sun. And how you called me “Freckle Nose.” And how you have always loved me, regardless (and helped me to love myself), knowing that whatever I did, my mom loved me.
And loved my sister. And my dad. And my husband. And my son. And even Brodie and Peanut and Trinity and Luke and the rest of the pack.
And my book. And my home. And my land. And my friends.
Cause that’s what you do best… LOVE.
I hope you can love yourself as much as others love you. Because the world is a much better place with you in it!
Those are a few of the things I love about you, Mom, but not all.
Words are never enough.
EASY… Ahhh. That’s my personal buzzword these days. As in, allowing my life + writing to flow easily. It’s springtime, after all. Slogging through winter felt hard this year… and I was in sun-swept Southern California! If EASY sounds good to you, too, I’ve got a few delicious recommendations:
1). I’m all adrenalined up about yet ANOTHER addictive writing book (click here if you missed my most recent prior book raves). While secluded away in our mountain home yesterday, taking an easy writing day all for me, I made the “mistake” of picking up this title just for a few minutes. You know how that goes. Five minutes turned into 20 turned into 90. And then it was nap time. And then lunchtime. (See, you’re not the only one with the focus of a basket full of puppies.)
The author, Lee Gutkind, in his book, You Can’t Make This Stuff UP: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything In Between, hooked me with tips like this:
“You need to create a writing schedule and keep it sacrosanct.” Okay. I’m listening. But that doesn’t really sound easy. Still, I read on. “If becoming a writer means enough to you as a person, then, as I have said, you will police yourself. But more importantly, writing should become a voluntary part of your life—not a forced internment. Many writers complain about the agony of the writing experience, but the mere thought of giving it up, even for a week, would be anathema.”
Hmmm. Sounded convincing. But I needed to break it down. I’d become so busy running my business and editing for others and working hard NOT working (but rather relaxing and riding my horses and being balanced), that I often gave up my own writing time for a week. Or longer. The realization of this made me immediately thirsty, like I’d just scaled a mountain in the scorching sun. Wrapped in blankets.
But create an actual schedule? That sounded restrictive, complicated, not at all easy or in the flow. Outside of editing for clients, I haven’t followed a schedule in years. And I wasn’t at all convinced I could. But when I read the following paragraph, I laughed out loud upon noticing that I was nodding at the book while also biting my bottom lip through a smile. A hint to self when I’m completely jazzed:) Here’s what else Lee says on this topic in You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, quoting author Annie Dillard (from her book, The Writing Life, 1989):
“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”
A “net for catching days.” My eyes rolled up and looked heavenward. I felt light headed. Grateful. Massively relieved. Like this was the final piece I needed to fully give myself permission to take more time for myself (writing blog posts more often, for example, which makes me happy because there are so many tips + resources to share). This granting-myself permission business has been cooking for a while (see the below announcement about BIG changes over here at BookMama). Scheduling time for my writing is part of it.
So, I’m going for it. Me time is now officially scheduled. Every day. On the books.
I’d LOVE for you to do this with me—schedule your writing! If you haven’t already, take out your calendar and commit to some kind of a schedule. (Okay, wait! Do it after you’re done reading this post—I’ll remind you, promise.) And, if scheduling time each day has you all fidgety and curling toes, take a breath. I’m not the writing police. But what about scheduling something… maybe two hours a week? And, to help hold yourself accountable, tell me below when you’ve scheduled your time, and how often you’re going to show up for yourself. That should help wrangle your butt in the chair. Public declarations help.
Big changes over here at Book Mama…
2). Things are evolving over here, and that has everything to do with easy—for us both. I’ve decided that since I’m so much more effective helping clients sign with lit agents and land book deals once I’ve met them in person and we’ve worked side-by-side for 5 days in Carmel, I’m no longer taking on new private clients who haven’t first come to an in-person retreat. (For you boys, I’m taking names for the first-ever all-dude writing retreat… go here for the blue sign-up box.)
This wasn’t actually an easy (there’s that word again) decision by any stretch. I have LOVED being a freelance editor and ghostwriter, and have felt honored beyond words to consult with so many of you. But as my Carmel “grads” increase in number, my life has become so full with this amazing family of women and I want to be more available for them + future retreaters. For editing when they need it, agent connecting when they’re ready, and navigating the many phases of publishing and marketing when they’ve landed their book deals. (A few announcements on deals any minute… waiting on contract signings.) Plus, nurturing our friendships! It’s all so exciting; making time for these women, who’ve taken up permanent residency in my heart and expanded my life in countless ways, is a big priority.
Plus, in-person creative jamming is just way more potent! There’s nothing I’ve yet found to top the energy, fun, and brain-trust immersion that takes place in this mystical environment. There’s no better way for me to get to know you, delve into your work, feel into your possibilities, and know which agents you’ll jive with. There’s a quickening process that happens in person that doesn’t have the same juice over the phone or via Skype. (I have a few spots left for the summer retreats… the year is already going by so quickly… so if you’d like to talk about joining us, sign up for a chat with moi here.)
And then there’s the beauty + healing energy of the actual physical locale of Carmel. But we don’t have all day here, so I’ll move on.
Before I get to my last recommendation for today, though, let me say that I understand coming to a retreat is expensive and not possible right now for many. (That’s in part why I cut the numbers of participants down for each retreat from 6 to 5, and then last month from 5 to 4, so that I can offer each woman even more value—the best of me to help her build a longterm, lucrative career.) But, having lived with creditor calls for two years following the break up of my marriage, I feel for anyone out there who wants support and feels that it’s lightyears away. The heartbreak that accompanies a lack of money can cut more deeply than any other loss. I don’t know that I’ll ever forget that pain and don’t even know that I’d want to.
Some of you gals (and guys) are high on talent and low on cash. It’s precisely for this reason that I’m excited about a few things: a). blogging more often (posting more FREE resources here—if you’re not yet on my newsletter list for those update, sign up here), and b). continuing to nurture Your Big Beautiful Book Plan, the digital book I co-authored with the one and only Danielle LaPorte. We gave it all we had—this step-by-step program for getting a book written and sold. And, we made it affordable ($150, with a new 3-part payment plan) so that book deals could be born sans our physical presence. It’s working, big time! Reports of landing agents and publishing contracts are coming in all the time now. It’s astonishing and just what we’d hoped for. (*Free for all retreaters.)
Join me for a powerful publishing discussion online tomorrow!
3). Lastly, I’m honored + excited to be included in The Inspiring Women Summit (it’s FREE) that starts tomorrow (April 20th). Join me in a powerful conversation on Landing Your Big, Beautiful Book Deal + avoiding rookie mistakes as you find your voice. You’ll also hear from women like Marianne Williamson, Lisa Nichols, Ali Brown, Gabrielle Bernstein, Lucy Liu, and many others in the series.
You know, Danielle and I wouldn’t be where we are in our careers without strong female friendships (cheering us on) and mentors (showing us the way). This summit is a chance to tap into FREE, really wise + enthusiastic girl-power support. I hope you join me, and very much look forward to seeing you there! To sign up, go HERE.
That’s all for today. Yes, I see shorter, more regular (EASIER) posts in my future. I want to thank you so much for being a part of my growing book mama community, and for bringing so much value to my life. It’s so much more fun writing with my tribe.
Please remember to schedule your writing NOW, and tell me about it below. I can’t wait to cheer you on!
The best writers are also readers. Thus, what a double DELIGHT it is when you find a writing book that’s so good you can’t put it down. My new fave is WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron. In it, she uses the latest brain science to reveal how to “hook” readers from the very first sentence of your work. I had no idea before reading this gem that our brains actually release dopamine and other feel-good chemicals when reading page turners. If you’ve ever wondered why you couldn’t put a book down (or how to write one others can’t), this is your next guilty pleasure. Hell, at $14.99, what’s there to feel guilty about? (Unless you’re reading it at work in the bathroom! You’d never do that, would you?)
Another title I’m mildly (okay, freakishly) obsessed with is THE EMOTION THESAURUS, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. Who doesn’t struggle out there to find just the right way to explain feelings & emotions in the all-important “show don’t tell” way? “The body crumpling in on itself” is far better than saying, “He was bummed.” And, “A slow smile that builds” kicks butt over “She was curious.”
Rampin’ up our game, people. It’s time to take it to the next level.
Speaking of higher levels, I’ve got two dudes—online magic makers—to introduce you to (if you don’t already know them). The first, Paul Jarvis, is my masterful web developer. You’ve probably heard me rave before. I found him through Danielle LaPorte (who couldn’t stop raving) and I’m so grateful he’s on my team and in my tribe. Paul has a rockin’, very inexpensive book out that you MUST read it you’re building any kind of a platform (you are, aren’t you?). It’s called BE AWESOME AT ONLINE BUSINESS.
If you don’t yet know about David Siteman Garland and his RISE TO THE TOP mediapreneur show (the #1 badass show + recourse community for mediaentrepreurs—that’s you!), you’ve got to check him out. He offers so many free tutorials it’s staggering! So honored and grateful to be his video interview this week. We had a blast, and talked about lots of the ins + outs of publishing. Leave him a comment and let us know what you think:)
Off to meet a few retreaters in Lake Arrowhead for the weekend. Have a few book deal announcements to make next week (and 2 more book recommendations, so stay tuned). And, let me know what writing books are blowing your mind.
Until then, have a great weekend!
Found this in my files today. Never before shared. The paper is still stained with my tears. (Written circa 2002.)
I lost a job today.
Never been one for writing poetry.
How does one craft that stuff, anyway?
Perhaps it’s borne of pain?
The sting of unrealized dreams.
I awoke amidst a profound loss.
It was there yesterday,
But so much bigger today.
The loss of a job.
My therapist tells me to feel the blow.
But, how do I do that without collapsing?
Or, is collapsing the thing to do?
For a month or two my future was bright.
My career hitting heights never before dreamt of.
But people, her “negotiators” muddied the waters.
They said I asked for too much.
I wonder what they stood to gain through my departure?
Now I struggle to let it go,
To return to the joy I felt before I knew such a future could exist.
My heart heavy, fear rages.
I pray I can keep this from ever happening again.
It’s just the nature of the beast, they tell me. You’re living an artist’s life.
I don’t feel like an artist right now, anything but.
I wait for the phone to ring, the emails to arrive, the apologies to come.
Does the woman at the top even know I’ve been hurt?
Or does she feel that she is the real victim here?
Her life so full she forgets one small deal.
Or is it too painful, this path I asked her to walk?
Coaxing her to delve down to the depths of her life.
Bearing her soul, her wounds, her hurts for all to see.
The girl who is so blessed, so famous, so in control.
It’s not her way, she tells me, to delve this deep.
It’s her motto to steer clear of all painful things.
She’ll open the box, she sees the value, knows she must.
One day, when she has the time.
She cries as she thanks me for taking her there.
It’s locked, that box.
We both know she is likely to swallow the key.
But even if she doesn’t, what if time eludes her?
As it’s done for her mother.
She did go there, for a time,
At my prompting and instruction.
I held her hand, as she stood tall and walked through the hurt.
She did me proud.
Exposed more than I could have hoped.
I am proud of me, too.
For telling her what wasn’t easy to hear.
For not being yet another “yes man” in her world.
For daring to lose her trust by speaking straight.
For fighting for the value of all she’s endured.
Yes, I am proud of me.
For remaining steadfast in the face of manipulation.
For holding firm when I ached to cave.
For doing my research when I was sure to be naïve.
For asking for more than was offered.
For a job bigger than both of us.
Even though I knew I could lose it all.
I grieve for the loss of this deal.
The loss of the potential bounty that was nearly real.
The late-night laughter.
The tears we’d share in the creation of such profound work.
The abundance of all things creative and dear.
The critics would have seen its value, surely.
The readers would have been changed.
Her gifts flung far and wide.
My love underneath it all.
Midwifing it forth.
Easing this baby into a waiting world.
My sense of purpose and gratitude would carry me.
My need to contribute to this important cause fulfilled.
But would I be so effective if the pay was a pittance?
Would she—and her team—still respect and love me if we failed to hit the charts?
Would it be my fault if, in undervaluing myself, I was too stressed to do my best?
What more could I now give,
From this place of empty?
What if it’s worth the risk?
Of possibly attaining all I’ve ever worked for?
The new furniture purchased in my head.
The house freshly painted, my son’s college tuition at least partially secured.
Finally vanquishing financial struggle for all that glitters.
But there’s no gold here.
Not for me.
I can only hope I’m being protected.
That I’ve lost for some greater win close at hand.
I can’t know why, but I can know faith.
Faith in the unsure.
Faith in the seemingly unfair.
Faith that another day brings greater jobs yet unseen.
Faith that the next one is so much easier than this.
Landing an agent. It seems like a topic forever on people’s minds. It’s the query I hear the most from friends, strangers, new clients: How do I get an agent? Or more specifically: How do I get a GREAT agent who answers my calls and actually calls me on his/her own? Just yesterday I talked with a woman about ready to flee her agency (and HUGE agent), despite the fact that said agent got her, a first-time author, a six-figure deal last year. With Random House. That’s the dream, people! Why then the sour apples? Because she’s not feeling the love. Rarely gets return calls or emails.
Danielle LaPorte + I go deep into this agent topic in our digital publishing love fest, Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. (And, if you haven’t yet signed up for our free spreecast next Monday, March 18th at 3 PM EST, where you can ask us anything you want related to your book baby or agents, here’s the link.) In the meantime, I’m replaying a blog post I wrote in 2010 about my agent coming to my house, and the craziness that ensued. My prayer is that it not only entertains, but gives you a bit of insight into this nut ball, albeit glorious world of book agents. Hint: You’re nut ball too, so hang tough because ultimately they’re worth it.
Replay from 2010 (with a hot present-time good-news update): Several months ago I picked up the phone in my office in Los Angeles to speak with a top literary agent in New York to pitch one of my clients. His proposal wouldn’t be finished for several months, due to several legal issues surrounding the material, and the overall bigness of the topic. My goal was to give the agent the heads up, assess his interest level, and lock him into our number one go-to position because, as an ex Editor-in-Chief of one of those mega-publishers, with a great reputation as a hands-on editor/agent (two for the price of one!), I believed he’d have the best shot at taking our baby and generating what he had with similar titles—namely a 7-figure book and movie deal. Yummm….
“Sounds great!” he said. “If the writing is as strong as your pitch, I’m very interested. Send it over as soon as it’s ready and I’ll make it a priority.” The word “priority” from an agent is music to my ears because you’ll hardly find busier folks. Phew!
Long story short: I emailed this agent yesterday, reminding him of the project, telling him we’re nearly ready, and even sent him a tricked-out video trailer of the author and title, with the promise to send the proposal within a week if he’s still interested.
It’s been nearly 24 hours, with no word. Now, this is not unusual. It’s not uncommon to wait months to hear back from a busy book agent, although those of us with personal relationships count on a speedy turn-around time of approximately 1-3 days. But still, the natives are getting restless. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but there has been more-frequent-than-normal inbox checking—a bit from me, and more than a bit from my client.
I knew my client was home chewing his fingernails to the quick, so I sent him an email a few minutes ago, letting him know that I hadn’t yet heard anything, and that if I don’t by Thursday, I’ll personally call Mr. Agent at his office (usually a no-no, unless you have something they’ve requested). Relieved, my client sent me this joke. Natalie [my ex assistant] and I were cracking up, and just had to share:
“A struggling writer returned home one night to find his cul-de-sac roped off, his street teeming with police, fire, and emergency vehicles. His house was burned to the ground. When he got to his driveway a uniformed officer informed him that his literary agent had gone berserk, come to his house, raped his wife, killed her and the kids, killed his dog and then burned the house down…
‘Are you kidding me?’ the writer replied, ‘My agent came to my house?’”
That’s classic. Do you love it? This joke hits home with actors, musicians, and writers—anyone selling their creative wares—because we all know how hard it can be to get these VIPs on the phone, much less nail down an in-person sit down.
Early on in my career, my first agent actually DID travel to my house. (Well, it was a cabin back then—yes that’s the real photo—off the grid, in the forest of New Mexico—but we had walls and a cook stove, so that counts, right?) As incredible as it was to meet Jeff Herman face-to-face—a BIG agent and respected expert on ALL things publishing, with popular books on crafting book proposals and pitching agents and editors—the trip was something of a comedy of errors. Don’t get me wrong; Jeff is a class act and we’re still buds. I called him yesterday, in fact, to pitch a client. [Jeff sold that client, by the way. Ana Holub’s gorgeous book on forgiveness will be out later this year.] But, God love him, he’d traveled hours from the Albuquerque airport by rental car on route to a wedding, had navigated miles of dirt roads without street signs at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, and by the time he found us in the trees and we’d wrangled him into the Inepi for sweat lodge with the local medicine man, I think he was sort of queasy in the stomach and light in the head.
Or, maybe it was the soup. If I remember correctly, I threw together some kind of Beano-worthy concoction that made him want to hurl. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did hurl when he went to the outhouse on his way out. It was a speedy exit, as I recall (can you hear burning rubber in the dirt?), as he strapped on his seat belt and high-tailed it to the nearest freeway as if fleeing from flaming spears.
Yeah? Where could I possibly be going with this ramble? You’ve heard me say it before…
Things take time.
Big things take big time.
Big agents, even longer. [Not always, though. When you’re really ready, it CAN be remarkably fast. But still. Depends on the week, and the tidiness or chaos of their desk.]
Jeff eventually got me a book deal (for my first book, Lives Charmed) and we celebrated with dinner at Robert De Niro’s chic Tribeca Grill in the heart of downtown Manhattan. I then slept on the couch in his office (Jeff’s, not Robert’s), surrounded by floor-to-ceiling stacks of manuscripts. Good times!
Agents are your friends. They’re the bad cop to your good cop when dealing with money and publishers. You get to be the darling; your agent, your big, bad protector. I pray we hear from Mr. Big Agent this week; we’ll keep you posted. On your end, keep practicing being agent-ready so that when your agent does call (or visit!), you’re on top of your game and ready to roll.
Speaking of games, I’m off to the Lakers’ opening night with my dreamy beau. Life is good. Even so, I’m waiting, just like you are. On many things. At all levels, we wait. Fingers crossed, our agent call comes soon. ****
Thanks for traveling back in time with me. Makes me smile remembering these shenaneghans:) The postscript to that story is that my agent friend did NOT end up signing this project after all. He felt the genre was too glutted. Fortunately, my agent friend Ken Atchity in Los Angeles, who specializes in taking books to film, disagreed and sold the project soon afterward to St. Martin’s Press. Nobody Walks was released several weeks ago to critical acclaim. Gotta love that! Yes, big things take time. In this case the time wasn’t too big. Not in retrospect.
Have yourself a blessed weekend, and be sure and join us on next week’s call (which is recorded if you’re too busy writing your blockbuster). Danielle and I always love communing with our book buds! And, if when you sign up (again, it’s FREE!), let us know here in the comments or on FB that you’re coming so we’ll watch out for you.
- Standing in the bookstore, do you imagine your name + title on the shelf?
- Does the idea of landing a book deal scare + delight you like nothing else?
- Do you ever worry it might be too big of a goal, too intimidating, or too late?
As someone who used to think I could never do it, I get your fears. I get your overwhelm. It’s all so complicated. Or so I thought.
Fifteen years later, from where I now stand (having written & published lots of books, many of which have won awards, been embraced by the media, changed lives, and hit the bestseller lists), I see how simple it really is.
If you’re ready to share your bigger message with the world, we’ve got you covered! Let’s rock your book(s) together. We can’t wait!
Books, Blogs, and Your Bounty:
A Free Q&A Spreecast Event with
Linda Sivertsen & Danielle LaPorte
Monday March 18, 2013
12 noon PST / 3pm EST
We’ll be live on video for 60 minutes of laser answers to any questions you have. This is going to be a no holds barred, rapid jam session about what it really takes to finish (and sell!) the book waiting in your heart.
This is your time. As the big publishers continue to consolidate and downsize, we want you to know what they’re looking for and how to stand out. Traditional publishing is not going anywhere; it’s a multi-billion dollar industry and the majority of books are still sold in brick-and-mortar stores.
Every day somewhere between 5-50 book deals take place (including foreign rights). Every day the big publishers are signing authors. But there’s no doubt they’re becoming more discerning. We want you armed with all of the latest, greatest Intel to make you one of them.
Danielle and I created Your Big Beautiful Book Plan to break it down. Help you get your word out into the world, where it belongs… quickly. We’re all about ease, speed, and results here. And it’s working! People who have used this program have recently inked deals at Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Globe Pequot to name a few.
Danielle and I have given this all we’ve got. It’s the best program out there on making your book a REALITY already, and getting it to the masses. If this makes you smile and your heart race, trust that feeling and join us.
More on Danielle…
Danielle LaPorte is an outspoken creative visionary. She published The Fire Starter Sessions with Random House/Crown and has also had major success with self-publishing. She’s a former think tank exec and business strategist who can dish for days about branding and platform-raising.
Join Danielle and me for this live Spreecast event if you’re:
- Someone who loves to write (anywhere) and aches to help others through what you’ve lived through and know.
- Hoping to learn techniques for building the dreaded “platform” that don’t feel akin to going in for a root canal.
- Wanting to master the making of a pitch, even for self-publishing your work.
- Jonesin’ to craft the kind of proposal agents are praying for and editors rush to bid on…
- Dreaming of landing that great agent, who gets you to the best editors.
- Hoping for a format to keep you accountable, make it easy, and most of all fun… Isn’t that what this change-the-world business is all about?!
We’ve done this over and over, for ourselves and others. And we’ve helped hundreds of writers, info-product producers, + wisdom mavens devote themselves to DONE. We’re talking life’s work, in print and on-line. Decade-long dreams, on the shelf and on e-readers. We absolutely love this business. And you’re going to feel the love.
Bring your questions and your dreams. We’re at your service.
P.S. If you get a chance, leave me a comment and let me know you’re coming. I’ll love knowing you’re with us:)
Spread the word
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Ever see someone—maybe a close friend—hit the Big Time while you’re knocked flat on your ass? It’s crazy making!
One year, early on in my career, I dumped a clique of once beloved girlfriends just before they all hit the stratosphere. I’d bought their homemade jewelry when they couldn’t afford their rent. I drove all over Los Angeles and danced late into the night as one belted out songs in tiny bars. I strategized about what they should wear to auditions. They listened to me ramble on about who I wanted to interview for my first book, or what agent I dreamed of signing with. We cried to each other over lost deals, lost loves, and pounds gained. Mostly, we held each other’s dreams tight.
Until I just couldn’t do it any longer. We’d become dysfunctional. Too gossipy and stressed out to offer consistent, unconditional support. Three of us always seemed to triangulate, leaving the forth out in the smog. They were bright, beautiful, and brilliant. We’d had a good run. But I was moving out to the forest of New Mexico and it was time to take a break. No more cliques. No more talking behind each other’s backs. No more high-maintenance emotions (mine included).
It was time for peace and quiet and communing with nature. I’d found a humble Native American Indian Medicine Man who lived down the dirt road to teach me how to be the best kind of person and friend I could be. I followed his every walking-lightly-on-the-mother footstep. (Ironically, his life was not without its drama. Sigh. He was human.)
Within a short amount of time, my ex gal pals all became godzilioinaires. Without me. One had the female lead in one of the highest grossing movies of all time. One signed a massive record deal and became a Grammy-nominated rock star. The third starred in her own TV series that ran for years and made her “set for life,” as a mutual friend reported. All while my agent mailed me rejection after rejection for my first book and I found 13 ways to cook potatoes because sometimes that’s all I could afford.
Certain they were sharing a limo ride through Paris, clinking champagne glasses, and laughing aloud about their old friend Linda, the wannabe, I was devastated.
That was nothin’. Soon there was no escaping their successes. Hit songs played on every radio in town. I couldn’t drive without fear of seeing one of their faces staring down on me from a billboard. If I didn’t want to watch them being interviewed at a red-carpeted award show, on a talk show, or an entertainment show, I had to stay away from my TV altogether and haul ass through the electronics department at Walmart.
Jealous, anyone? God yes. But it wasn’t too long before I was also elated… for them, and for myself. These were my old teammates! They’d worked so hard. They’d lived and breathed their visions. They’d refused to take harsh criticism to heart, and eked out a living knowing they’d eventually create great beauty from nothing. They may have been scoring touchdowns in the Super Bowl while I was stuck sitting on the bench, but I knew most of the plays!
After the initial sting of hating myself for wanting to throw their action figures from my speeding car window, I sent them love and focused on my OWN goals. On making myself as ready and deserving as possible. On studying editing books and slogging through cruddy first drafts as diligently as any artist learning sheet music or practicing lines. My new goal? To offer high value and be world class. Soon, my agent called with the news I’d waited years to hear. I was getting published; and they were elated to have me. He didn’t even have to bribe them. (And, yes, I did cross paths with my three lost friends, and we all hugged and made up.)
I learned that it’s easier to realize a big dream when you see others doing it. And for that reason, I’m sharing our most recent fall Book Deal Success Stories here. Think of these ladies as your beloved teammates (and, lucky you, without any past cat fights—ha!). I’m thinking this is YOUR year, and seeing as how it’s a brand spanking New Year—isn’t it time for your fresh start? (Especially if you’re armed with Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map. You got your copy, right?)
In closing, as you see their names and faces below (and send them goodwill in your heart and mind), remember: It’s a big world. There’s more than enough to go around. And you’re next. Or very, very soon. Just be sure and put yourself in the game!
I met the beautiful Janice MacLeod for the first time at my Carmel retreat. This Canada native oozes art. You’d never know that she used to write the stuff you threw away—like those Direct Mail notes from Direct TV and Visa that say, “We want you back!” Needless to say, she’s never, ever going back! Armed with a lust to live out of a suitcase, Janice worked hard to bank a year’s worth of living expenses and took off to travel the world. In Paris she fell in love with the man who became her fiancé this past December—just as she was also signing her book deal (in their Parisian apartment!) for: LETTERS FROM PARIS (SOURCEBOOKS, 2014).
I got really lucky meeting Elizabeth Murray—a renowned painter, photographer, Monet gardener, and author living down the street from my retreats (if she hadn’t lived so close, I don’t know that she’d have ever come!). Liz feels into and transforms nature more than anyone I’ve ever met. Plants and animals speak to her, and she’s enormously committed to protecting them. (It was Liz who first showed me the beautiful Native American Indian meditation spot in Point Lobos State Park—hundreds of years old—only a mile from the house. People from around the world say this is the most beautiful and profound walk of their lives.) I can’t wait for the world to read her stunning new insights on life and love in LIVING LIFE IN FULL BLOOM (RODALE, 2014).
I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a doctor who’s not afraid to think out of the box, and follow her own intuitive ways of sharing her art/healing work. Elaine Ferguson, MD, was in the Guinea-Pig group who came to my first-ever retreat (in Colorado in 2009), and we’ve stayed tight. She’s been far too busy at a day job these past years, but never gave up on her goal of writing + sharing with the world this very powerful title, which she recently SOLD (and is set to receive nationwide PR through a partnership with PBS—wow!): SUPERHEALING: ENGAGING YOUR MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT TO CREATE OPTIMAL WELL-BEING (HCI—HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS, 2013). P.S. working on getting a bigger photo of her!
Every time I start to feel overwhelmed, thinking I’ve got too much on my plate, Julie Jensen, puts it all in perspective for me and gives me a quick dose of what matters. This mother of five children couldn’t come to a retreat because health problems were limiting her ability to travel (she’s since gotten much stronger). Yet, her simple book, written from her heart, was so beautiful, so uplifting, so necessary for the world to see—that I had to help polish her message and proposal, and introduce her to agents. Laura Yorke recently sold THE ESSENCE OF A MOTHER (GLOBE PEQUOT PRESS, 2014), and I have no doubt it will move the world as much as it’s moved me (because remembering that our children don’t care as much about what we do as much as who we are be-ing is really cool).
Thank you for sharing this time with me! Please forward this post to anyone you know who may be wrestling with jealousy or feeling left out in the living-his-or-her dreams department. And, leave a comment and let me know your own jealousy-to-action stories. It’s such a relief to admit our foibles and see how creatively we can get over them already! xo
Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve lit a candle, gotten cozy, and listed my yearly goals on pretty paper. I do this twice a year, in fact — once on my birthday in late summer, and again before midnight on New Year’s Eve. My success rate is pretty decent with these things, which is why I keep doing them.
But I’ve gotta admit that these lists (and making them) has increasingly bored the crap out of me. So much so that this year on my birthday, I barely did it — gave myself maybe 10 minutes to script down a few ideas before I could get back to having real fun. It felt obligatory vs. celebratory, which made me a bit sad.
I wanted to feel, as always, continued (and even more) creative fulfillment, connection with loved ones, vibrant health, and financial freedom.
The problem? I didn’t feel inspired by putting those desires down as is, nor alongside things like, “I’d like a bigger refrigerator,” “to get more organized,” and “to read a novel uninterrupted under a palm tree.”
I was thinking, “These goal lists used to be fun, but they really aren’t anymore. I wonder how I can get the magic back?” In an attempt to inject the joy back into this once beloved practice for this coming New Year’s (which was only four months away at the time), I bought a new journal and an expensive 18-karat, gold-tipped fountain pen in Carmel in which to script my newest desires. But the excitement quickly wore off.
Next, I bought a bigger journal hoping that would help. But after a day, I could tell it wouldn’t and gave it away. Then, I bought a really BIG artist’s portfolio sketchpad with a leather case and a heavy handle, hoping the size and weight would ramp up my enthusiasm. It did. For about three days. Until I turned it into a diary.
I was back to being frustrated about what I was going to do about my lackluster vision for visioning my future list on December 31st.
Then lightening struck.
Well, really it was just Danielle LaPorte, who I guess you could say feels like lightening. I’m sure you’ve heard of her. Among many other things, Danielle is my co-author for Your Big Beautiful Book Plan and the bestselling author of The Fire Starter Sessions (Crown Archetype).
Over the past two years, she’d shared with me that she was developing a new way of goal making called “The Desire Map”, but we were always busy chatting about other things and I didn’t get the skinny.
Danielle recently showed me a preview, however, and I about lost it. I literally had tears running down my face. She’d nailed exactly what I’d wanted but couldn’t find. What I’d needed, but didn’t know could exist. That’s because it wasn’t yet in physical form. Until now.
If you’ve been on my newsletter list for a long time (you are a subscriber, right… if not, click here to sign up), you’ll probably remember a blog I posted a few years ago where I talked about infusing your publishing goals with feeling. I included a list of my most favorite publishing moments — the types of things you dream about experiencing when you’re still unpublished (or, God forbid, your book came out, but you’ve yet to experience many of your publishing goals).
My desire was (and is) to share inspiring visuals for what you have to look forward to.
Each dreamy moment was a real-life success I’d experienced, and I hoped would elicit deep and profound feelings inside of you. I’ll include that list below, in case it comes in handy when creating your very own Desire Map.
Let me close by saying that the idea that Feelings fuel our ability to manifest isn’t a totally new one. But how are you supposed to structure this feeling/desired-centered way of creating? It all sounds very illusive, doesn’t it? And tricky to stick with, seeing as how our emotions and attention spans are so fleeting. Being the maverick visionary that Danielle is, she’s figured out a way to add the structure, hand holding, and magic to this all-so-important mapping of our desires business. That’s what’s very, very new.
I can’t wait to open my copy of The Desire Map this week and dive in deep. Let’s do it together! Leave me comments about how it’s going for you, and I’ll do the same. And, to help juice you, here’s the list of some of my past (and some recent) goose-bump publishing moments—that, no surprise, were fueled by a lifelong desire to FEEL the freedom of living life as a working writer… since as far back as I can remember.
May the items on this list give you an even clearer idea of what the writing life looks and feels like for those of us living the dream, and what you want to experience and feel on your path to bestsellerdom.
… getting a call from a top NY agent that he’s read my work and wants to rep me.
… said agent flies out to visit me, and sits a spell — gifts in tow.
… hearing Mr. Agent on the other end of the line, saying: “You’ve got a book deal!”
… flying to the East Coast to meet with my publisher/editor, and sitting with fourteen executives in their conference room before being wined and dined by all of them at a nearby restaurant.
… holding my first book in my hands at a publishing conference… no words.
… media tour… radio, national TV, book signings, limos, green rooms, make up, hair, fruit baskets, congrats from nursery school chums and old boyfriends — weird/surreal.
… sleeping in gorgeous hotels and chillin’ on my agents’ couch (surrounded by mountains of manuscripts).
… podiums. Interviews. Standing O’s. Paychecks. Lines of happy readers sharing the love. Sweet dreams and new book ideas.
… seeing my work in magazines, newspapers, online, and displayed in bookstore windows.
… wanting to write a column and soon afterward getting a magazine gig doing just that.
… gig turns into West Coast Editor, flights to big cities, interviews with icons, and years of cover stories.
… reading book excerpts, my son and family beaming from the front row.
… getting stopped by strangers… “Didn’t I just see you on CNN yesterday?”
… making the bestseller lists, big and small/sweet.
… more book offers.
… taking my son to Simon & Schuster, where 20+ people file out to hug and love on us—giddy mother and son… before an amazing group meal at a trendy restaurant (gotta love these foodie publishers!).
… being handed the NYT bestseller list, where I was totally shocked to see my name… then came the congratulation calls and the tears.
… book and magazine awards. A university award, even though I never graduated.
… opening fan letters from old people, grateful people, kids who say they’ll live differently because of what they’ve just read. Whoa.
… more bestsellers. More awards. More ease, peace, downtime.
… writing retreats and new friends joining me from around the globe.
… people I admire suddenly following me on twitter.
… people who used to judge me now wanting to be friends.
… people I admire calling to tell me they want to work with me.
… being named one of the best on the web. Talk about goosebumps!
… showing my son by example that he can do whatever his heart desires.
It all started with one dream, one chapter, one book, one agent, one publisher, and a HUGE AMOUNT OF DESIRE. While your road to publishing has its unique footprint, remember the feelings you’re going for. In your desire to see your book in print, for example, how do you want to feel when your agent calls with the great news? How do you want to feel knowing that the details of your life experience are now out in the world helping others heal? How do you want to feel when you see your name atop the New York Times bestseller list week after week? Fun, right? Oh yea.
Let’s do this. Together. (Even before New Year’s.) It’s going to be big. I can’t wait!
To find out more about The Desire Map, click here.
Too busy to get your book down? Thinking you’ve got to get organized first? Don’t kid yourself. Chances are the piles of crap in your office and those unfinished to-do lists will still be there by year’s end… in 2026!
Since it’s not gonna happen for you—being “ready” to sit down all zen-like and caught up and all (sorry to be so nego, I suppose it could happen, in an alternate dimension)—don’t you think it’s time to make magic happen anyway? Everyone who loves you knows your book’s long overdue and it’s time to make some serious headway or quit talking about it already (no, don’t quit… that’ll make you really grumpy and no good to anyone and that’s a really bad idea).
That’s why today’s your lucky day, seriously, because I’ve some time-tested rescue tools to make it easier and much faster for you to finish your book. Believe me when I say these babies have transformed my experience as a writer. Oh, that’s easy for her to say, you could be thinking. She’s a professional. She’s written bestsellers in twelve weeks. While that’s true, I’m happy to debunk any images of perfection you may have of us writers and admit that it’s often haphazard and discombobulated, our process. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve only written one book fully organized (my first one, before the word “deadline” started haunting my dreams).
Since then, my office has often looked more like the floor of the Stock Exchange on Black Friday than the serene place it once was. Plus, I’ve had to take crazy on the road with me, writing at the bedside of sickies at the hospital, from my car during a fire evacuation, at Starbucks when my Internet was out and I was so cold my teeth were chattering (what’s the deal with having to wear a parka in a coffee shop, anyway—to get you to buy more hot bevs?).
But not anymore. Life’s infinitely easier these days. (Full disclosure… the kid’s grown and my parents are dead, so my son no longer cries for “mama milk” and my mom and dad can’t die again, which is helpful, because that seriously sucked.) So, other than that, what’s my secret? What tricks have I got up my sleeve? Drumroll, please… My-Top-3-Writing-Shortcuts-For-Harried-Writers-To-Help-You-Get-Your-Book-Done-No-Matter-What-Crazy-Shit’s-Going-On-In-Or-Around-You tools…
And, by the way, I don’t get one penny (or even a corporate pat on the back) for endorsing any of these things. Just sharin’ the love + the gold (or a way for you to make the gold, which brings in more love).
Writing Shortcut Tool #1: Scrivener—this is a weird-sounding $45 writing program (for Macs + Windows) that will knock you out of your chair—and finally help you make sense of those racing thoughts in your crowded brain and jamming your files. Never again will you have to search endlessly for a chapter or note in a Word file or a research article or a PDF or a video or audio file you’ve misplaced or put somewhere on your totally chaotic desktop. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Word docs. Have about a zillion of them. But there’s a better way to find + organize stuff (and you can use this in conjunction with your Word docs!)
I first learned about Scrivener at one of my retreats and immediately saw the organizational benefits and fell hard. Love at first write. Since then, every time I show my retreat girls how I organize my book projects, the reaction is unanimous. It’s as close to orgasmic as anything we offer in Carmel… well, maybe except what Jennifer, my chef, has in her hot little hands when she carries in a tray of her crème brulee with burnt marshmallow topping.
Aside from that, the women have been known to scream when they see Scrivener in action. I’ve honestly had ladies download the software right there, start copying their files into the binder and cry to me, and to each other, saying it’s the single best thing that’s ever happened to their creativity. (Never mind that I’m standing right there thinking, Hey, but what about me? Ha.)
If you haven’t already, check it out. (The photo here shows their cork board—so flippin’ cool—but there are so many other incredible features.) There’s a learning curve for sure. You’re not going to understand it in an hour, or maybe even a day. But watch the tutorials when you have time, download it, make copies of your precious Word docs and then cut and paste and start to play with them. It’s easy once you get the hang of it (or can see someone already using it) and will be worth taking the time to learn how to use this magical, magical program. Promise.
You’re welcome, my friend.
It’s Sunday and I’m sleepy after feasting on leftover Halloween candies Larry left on the counter while I was gone in Carmel. It’s no bueno to walk into your house after five hours in the car only to see 500 pieces of chocolate (100 for each hour) staring you in the famished face. Bad Larry. Very bad Larry.
I was too lazy this morning from last night’s binge to write today’s blog, but was also aching to share these tips. So, I did what I always do when I’m working on a deadline and the words are coming in fast ‘n furious and yet I can’t sit down at a computer: I whip out my phone and do something I can rally for (in this case walk Miss Merry, my toy poodle—who desperately needed to pee) while rambling into my phone and “writing” this blog at the same time. Mama loves to multitask, ya’ll.
A bit of an aside, and a word to the wise: once you’ve decided to start your book and you’re taking it seriously—maybe you’ve said a prayer about it, done a ritual where you’re asking God to help you get out of the way and/or clear your schedule, or you’ve committed to taking a half hour every morning to write or use your lunch hour at work—your unconscious sees that you mean business and inundates you with ideas that were never there before. That’s especially the case when you commit to a writing group or to show things to others.
Case in point: Mercedes. A professional surfer from Argentina who lives in Hawaii and coaches folks in creating Abundance, and joined us in Carmel last week. On Thursday morning, unbeknownst to us, she stopped working on her book to tell her peeps in her blog about how when she recently committed to write her book she was suddenly writing like a fiend, which brought her to Carmel on the heels of some unexpected magical happenings. In taking a stand for her art, she got snippets of ideas and full downloads often, and often at inopportune times. Isn’t that always the case? (She also got a random, last-minute shipment of free luggage and a jacket from her sponsor, Patagonia, something she hadn’t ordered, just perfect for the flight + fog of Carmel).
Here’s the cool thing about Voice memos. Mercedes, like the rest of us, has her phone with her most everywhere she goes (except, I imagine, on the big waves). She now knows that instead of thinking, “Oh, I’ll remember this and write it down later” (please no!) or, “That’s just a little thought, that’s no big idea,” she can trust the timing of those insights and get them down in the moment on her phone before they’re gone. She knows that she’s being inspired, no matter how small the thought, and that she’ll be able to string those little thoughts together later.
Once you start talking into your phone for a while, you’re going to find that you have a LOT of good, usable book material. Sure, you’ll discard some thoughts, but others will feel practically done from start to finish and you’ll amaze yourself with the quality and quantity of your output.
Then what? I’m still waiting for a voice recognition software I love. In the meantime, I either transcribe those snippets myself (like I did with my blog notes a few minutes ago) or have it transcribed somewhere fabulous (see point #3). Also, remember to synch your Voice Memos to your computer so you have another copy somewhere (I had the genius guy at Apple fix my settings so that mine automatically go into the cloud—don’t ask me how—so that they’re all on all of my devises). You can also email them to yourself if they’re not too long.
There are other voice recording programs too, some are easier than others to label/use. So do a little research and see what works best for you.
Writing Shortcut Tool #3: Transcription. I LOVE coming home from a trip where I’ve talked into my phone in the car, only to email those mp3 files over to Verbalink Transcription services to have their nimble typists bring my rambling words to life on the page. If I’ve got a big meeting coming up, I’ve been known to place a rush order and receive 10,000 words the next day. No kidding. I’ve used other great transcription services, but most can rarely deliver the next day. Verbalink is the best way I’ve found to keep up my momentum and ensure that those timely ideas aren’t forgotten or misplaced.
These folks are ethical and fast and inexpensive. I have them send me Word docs (that I then copy and paste into my Scrivener) that are remarkably typo free. I’m sure you can find less expensive transcribers if you send your files overseas, but I doubt you’ll ever find them free of errors. Besides, they’re located in Santa Monica, CA, and I like to support local + American businesses, so I prefer to keep it close to home.
Wow. Okay. Shaved a bunch of words off this post in an attempt to start keepin’ it shorter. Phew. Hope today’s tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. More where they came from. And, take a moment to leave me a comment and let me/us know any shortcuts you use.
Now it’s time for mama to ingest more caffeinated chocolate (with celery, of course). Or take a nap.
P.S. My thoughts + prayers are with our East Coast friends (including a few clients in negotiations with NY publishers—crossing all available digits). A few of those who were going to join us at my home in Lake Arrowhead this coming weekend have had to change their travel plans. I’m available to speak with anyone who’d like to join us and shortcut his or her process. (323) 769-5153
“Thank you for a whole new WOW! I had two big wows in the first two days in Carmel about my book, and then a million other ones.” ~Karen Misbach, novelist + lawyer, Richmond, VA
I just got through talking a client off the ledge. Let’s call her Jan. Researching comparable books for her proposal, she’d been reading the work of a current bestselling author—a woman for whom hundreds of people line up nationwide to attend her signings—and Jan was ready to jump.
“F this. I can’t compete,” she said. “The more I read, both her writing and my own, the madder and more discouraged I get.”
Here’s what I told her. Read this if you’ve ever felt paralyzed by comparison—which is, by the way, NORMAL!
Pretend I’m talking to you here. Because I am…
You’re an incredible writer. While your history and life lessons share some commonalities with others, your styles are different. You’re not in a competition with any one of them for anything.
I learned early on that there will always be someone prettier, smarter, more fit, and better than me in nearly every way. Yet, it’s the nearly that matters most. That’s the piece no one can do but you. Have faith in your nearly.
Über-talented people will shine their light for the world to see, and sometimes their brilliance will leave you feeling inept. Turd-like. A waste of wordy space.
Yet, someone out there makes them feel equally undeserving. I’ve interviewed enough celebs for books and magazine articles over the years to know that’s a fact. Trust me.
Personally, I’ve used moments of self-flogging comparisons as an excuse to cease working toward my dreams and goals, halting my progress. But not for long. Moving forward regardless is the only thing that brings any kind of lasting relief.
If you’ve read my past posts, you can probably guess the book that both inspires me and has on occasion made me want to give it all up to become a pea farmer in Peoria—Eat, Pray, Love. That’s not the book that’s currently slaying Jan (that one will go unnamed here). Interestingly, while I love the title she’s wrestling with, it doesn’t make me feel like a dullard. The author’s background and lifestyle are too foreign to my own to trigger fragile feelings.
But Liz Gilbert (my American Author Idol, the writer of the aforementioned EPL) and I share just enough commonality in this life to make it dangerous for me in a get-my-hopes-up kind of way. But the truth is: she’s better than me. Better at crafting memorable analogies, better at putting the fun in funny, and researching vast amounts of data to make it riveting + relevant. She’s far superior at bringing ancient history and classic literature to life. And, that’s just for starters. Liz appears to have traveled everywhere, and retained a somewhat encyclopedic understanding of each square foot of where she’s been. A homebody by nature, I hang onto her every-globe-trotting word from the safety of my comfy couch, and millions of readers do too. I prefer it that way. Why should I expend the energy and expense to fling myself about when she does it so well, her retelling of events so vivid and adventurous?
Why indeed. That’s the nature of good writing.
But does her mastery mean I should give up writing because my name’s Linda and not Liz? Do her enviable communication skills negate my own? Does the great value sandwiched between the covers of her books mean I have nothing of value to share in mine? Lastly, because she’s already written my favorite book, is there nothing left to say?
Jan could see that, and breathed a little easier.
Then, I drilled down deeper.
What if… because of the incredible success of Liz’s books, readers want more from independent, plucky, spiritual, female writers? What if her success actually clears more space for my own?
Could happen. After all, Liz can only write one book a year, if that. But people can read much faster than that. Now that their appetite’s been whetted, who’s going to serve up the next course? I’d forever regret not trying—even if it just turns out to be for myself, in a notebook, scribbled down at the edges of the day. In the end, the very act of getting it down will free me.
And what about this? If I’m willing to really believe in myself, what if…
… I’m actually better than my idol at something? I’ve been told that when I delve into painful topics, I’m more self-reflective, better able to unearth subconscious wounds. I don’t know if that’s true, and I don’t know that I’ll ever put that gritty work out into the world. But it’s a nice thought to entertain—that maybe, just maybe, I might have a talent my “mentor in words” might marvel at? None of us would know, though, if I up and quit because I was intimidated.
What matters is that I focus forward (now that I’m a horse owner, perhaps I’ll buy actual blinders to see if that helps) and continue going where I want to go. For no other reason than because it’s where I want to go. To stop myself because someone OUT there is better than me is unacceptable to me.
I hope it’s unacceptable to my client. I hope it’s unacceptable to you.
You’ve got all it takes to do YOU better than anyone.
Now go write for you, from you, as you.
You’ll find your audience.
P.S. If you’d like to add to this conversation, perhaps share your own experience, leave a comment here. I’d love to hear it!