I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and quickly realized that the one area that I really need to do some tidying up was in my writing world. Except for consulting reports and this blog, I have essentially quit writing fiction. After so many years of trying to find an agent or publisher (I actually had two different agents) I just kind of fell into discouragement and gave up. I gave up something that I love more than gardening or berry picking. There is just such magic that happens when a character or single scene grabs my attention, and I just go into this writing dance. It is quiet and private and noisy and messy all at the same time. A whole world is created out of nothing. So, this New Year began with me taking stock. I realized a couple of interesting things.
First, I started organizing my blog posts and taking some favorites and putting them into a collection along with some snowman drawings. I was overwhelmed by what I found. My first blog post was in 2005—over ten years ago. And the second discovery was there are probably over 600 pages of written words made up of short 2-3 page posts.
But that wasn’t the most startling discovery—the next one that tore at my heart a bit.
I have six books in print. The books have been good to me—I sell a lot at my workshops and retreats. The first one I published in 1987 almost pre-computer, and I have sold probably 20,000 books over the years.
But here is the kicker. The books I love the most have never seen print. In fact the books on the table for sale are not the books I love the most.
So why, I have to wonder, are these books that rest so close to my heart not available?
And this is what tore me up a bit. Several of these sweet, mystical wandering tales are so close to me that I don’t want to risk sending them out into the world. After all, if you read some of those books, you would see into me. You would see my soul. Somehow that feels very vulnerable. If a reader or critic took my stories and tore into them, it would hurt like hell.
When I was studying the creative process with Robert Fritz, he said that our creations need to be set free once we have created them. In other words, “I am not my creation.” I’m not sure I’ve accepted that, and that is why the stories closest to my spirit have not been set free.
And I think that keeping them locked away is hurting my creative process. I’m a hoarder in my way and see those many characters lined up behind bars like prisoners. That is why I have stopped writing fiction. I can’t keep spinning these stories and then putting them in lock down.
Oh, I have lots of convenient excuses—time, money, I suck at cover design, self-publishing is dismissed by the “real” literary world, etc.
But the truth of it is this feeling of vulnerability with these stories of my heart and soul.
I recently went to an evening workshop given by my new friend, Dee O. who is in a training program to present “The Daring Way” program created by Brene’ Brown. During Dee’s presentation she talked a lot about being courageous enough to be vulnerable out there in the “arena”. I may have drove off that snowy night with one more of my missing puzzle pieces. Am I willing to be vulnerable enough to publish these imprisoned books?
So, in early January I set a new resolve for 2016. My plan is to publish one book per month for 12 months. It sounds a bit ambitious unless you consider that I have already spent hundreds of hours on each one of these novels. They are not first drafts. I’m not facing a blank page each month.
The January book is done and the proof of One Drum is on its way to me. And a couple of days ago I opened Silver and began reading it. I was also secretly afraid that I would look at these stories again and hate them or tell myself how silly they are but, in truth, I fell instantly into Silver and only changed about 6 words in 80 pages. I love this story filled with earth rhythms and pulsing with so many layers of love . . . it brought tears to my eyes.
So, do I really have 12 books caged up in my computer tugging to be set free? I guess we shall have to see.
It is my hope that as I bring each one out you will take the time to order a copy, read the book, and then give me feedback—gently, of course.
And for my part, I will push back when a tiny voice in my heads tells me that nobody will like these stories because they are silly, not good enough, etc. And I’ll just finish and publish.
You go, girl. Starting . . . now.