Jun 21

I Could Vacation on This Money, Or I Could Print a Book

I signed the contract, wrote the check, and mailed it at the P.O. today. Asked the clerk for a pretty stamp. For good luck. I'm in high-risk territory here. If I do this wrong, if I'm deceiving myself. . . But if I do this right . . .

This is a self-publishing project: an illustrated little inspirational book for women. The fantastic drawings by Sheila Kennedy will make the book of work of art. This project has long roots. At a printery I'd seen adorable little books, like children's books, except they were for adults; loved the shape and size. Then in my files I found the list, 31 lines, that would become the text. I'd written it to restore myself after a rough patch. Re-reading it I was surprised it was still "alive." I thought, this could help somebody else. My Inner Critic had a field day:

*who will read this? *you, writing inspirational stuff? *you want to kill your reputation this will do it! *you really want to embarrass yourself! *it will cost seeerious money! *where will you find an illustrator? *what qualifies you to try to inspire people? *why isn't it a book of poems? *you are crazy!

But I shut up my Critic (he looks and sounds like Christopher Hitchens). It wasn't easy. It was like the Puritans in old Plimoth: If somebody in town went nuts or on a bender, they dragged him to his house, tossed him in and then nailed the door shut, to let him cool off. Just in the last two weeks I first spoke of the idea to other writers. I explained the concept or brought them the text, nervously asking, am I crazy?

Finding the illustrator was easy; I was led to her. I didn't seek design and printing estimates; knowing its likely price and what I wanted, I asked for it and signed. My publishing experience, all of it, came in very handy. (I'm the kind who'll park the car in the first empty space and walk, rather than keep circling to find one closer to the entrance.) And, gritting my teeth, sent the check today.

Several streams had run together: the business course that said manifesting "crazy" ideas was the sanest thing to do. My editing of faith-based book manuscripts, which I found strangely moving although I am not religious. Karmic issues I won't go into. The "now or never" bit. The "leap and the net will appear"/"walk by faith, not by sight" bit. (Did it before, risking much more than I am now.) The "better to regret what you did do than what you didn't do." The "dare you dare you, double-dog dare you." The "I could vacation on this money or I could make this book. I'll make the book."

Jan 22

Who Will Help Me?

Lately I've been consulting horoscopes and swamis, praying to God and wearing crystals, wishing and hoping in all sorts of ways that my writing efforts will soon bring me success. I have just put in five hours on a writing project. I'm surely working hard, can't be faulted on that.

I stopped and looked out the window and thought, "Who will help me?"

The answer I won't accept anymore is, "Nobody will help you; you'll have to work even harder and do it all yourself." Believing in the lone-writer-in-the-tower, man-against-the-world myth almost cost me my sanity. If you believe in it, it can cost you yours. One may write alone, but one can never succeed alone. A writer needs friends, editors, a publisher, and readers, just to get started. Ideally a writer also has a good teacher or a writing group. Then a writer wants acclaim, reviews, invitations, grants, prizes, and opportunities, and those come only through other people.

Well, I've been acting as if I don't know that.

Did I ever tell anybody what my current project is? About nine people know, and those are folks I can't hide it from. It's 95 percent done and I've only let one person read the whole thing.

And the project that follows that one? It's about half done. Two people know about it.

Should I tell more people? But I want to keep these secret! Why?
1. So no one will steal my ideas. And then give them better life than I can. And then get the success that should be mine.
2. In case these projects fail, I won't be embarrassed when I'm asked, "Whatever happened to that thing you were working on?"
3. I'm ashamed in case someone will think these are selfish projects.

Sheesh! What idiotic thinking! Nobody wants to steal from me. These projects won't fail. And calling a writer "selfish" is an old trick to keep the writer from writing. But nobody has actually called me selfish. I'm only worried that they will. Sheesh!

If people don't know what I'm working on because I'm hiding it, how can they encourage me? How can they help me?

They can't!

It's as if I've painted over my own window and am wondering why I can't see the view!