A beautiful man I’ve been dating recently asked me what I want for my future—and what it would look like. As I ran through bits of my list (i.e. to edit books like Jackie O until the day I die, and to get married to my best friend and have a life FULL of fun, ease, happiness, sports, cooking, and other super fun stuff I’m not going to spell out in a blog, thank you very much), it occurred to me that the pictures of what I want can take a thousand different forms, but that the feelings are non-negotiable. Meaning, I can have an ever-changing roster of clients, new or even virtual offices, a revolving door of tennis partners, and twenty different places to hang my tiara, but that the feelings of being happy, juiced, creative, peaceful, nourished, and blissfully in love are a must. Those good vibes will need to park their pretty selves into each equation, no matter the people I’m befriending or the city I happen to call home.
It took me a long time to figure out those non-negotiables. Many a gopher-hole laden trial run, you could say. And, it was only through flailing through plenty of stops and starts and varied realities that they became set in stone.
I thought it might be fun to turn the tables here, and ask what it is that you want. Pretend you’re savoring a delicious meal with a hot athlete, and … wait… scratch that. That was my date… This blog is about you and your WRITING.
Pretend you and I are sitting together, discussing your dream-publishing scenario, where you’re telling me what you’d love to experience. When was the last time you really thought about it—I mean really dove into the images of what having the career of your dreams would look like? And, even more importantly, when was the last time you felt into those visions? Supposedly, that’s the detail big-time “manifestors” have in common–they feel their future before it happens, virtually ensuring that it does (assuming, of course, that you’re also up to your knees in the trenches, grunting away). The big, self-help/spiritual cheeses say it’s no longer hip just to make your list, but that you’ve got to also see, smell, taste, and feel your way there. So, how ‘bout it? You game?
Allow me to help nudge your process along by giving you some powerful visuals. I’m a visual girl, much to my little sister’s horror (when we were in college at USC, I actually pulled the unforgivable big-sister move by stopping her in the quad and telling her to turn around and go home to change out of her “embarrassing, frumpy, grey sweats”). So, I thought I’d go back in time and relive a few of my Goosebump moments to give you a better idea of what the writing life looks and feels like for those of us living the dream. Then, it will be all that much easier for you to envision your own writerly future.
At the risk of going long, I’ll break this up into three parts. Today (part I) is all about seeing the best of what you want. Next Tuesday (in part II), we’ll cover the daily grind—with advice from top authors about what it actually looks like to make it happen day after day after day. Two weeks from now (in part III), we’ll look into what to do once you’ve got those words written.
A bit of the good stuff…
… getting a call from a top NY agent that he’s read my work and wants to rep me.
… said agent flies to NM, drives out to our ranch, and sits a spell—gifts in tow.
… hearing mr. agent on the other end of the line, saying: “You’ve got a 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, 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, the back of limos, 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 bestseller lists.
… 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 (gotta love these foodie publishers!).
… being handed the NYT bestseller list, where I was totally shocked to see my name… then came the tears.
… academic awards, 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.
… people I admire suddenly following me on twitter.
… people I love calling to work with me.
It all started with one dream, one chapter, one book, one agent, and one publisher.
While your own road to publishing will have its unique footprint, remember the feelings you’re going for. As I look back through this list, the overarching themes have been consistent—that of feeling lucky, blessed, connected, grateful, supported, appreciated, heard, sleepy, bleary-eyed and yet exhilarated, and humbled to be of service to those I know and those I will never meet. Like you, I’m a small part of some bigger legacy of which I cannot yet see, but sense is ever evolving.
Hope that juices:)
Read on for part two – The Daily Grind.