The other day, I had a book release party for my new Memoir, My Million Dollar Donkey. June is probably the worst possible month and Wednesday evening the worst possible time for such an event because people are traveling and working and such, but due to the date of the book’s publication and my crazy busy summer teaching schedule, a mid week night in mid summer seemed the only option to launch the book.
About eighty people showed up, and oddly, not the people I expected. I have certain students, friends and family members I thought would fill the ranks out of obligation or a sense of friendship, but few of them bothered to make the trip out for the event. Yet, many others came to voice heartfelt congratulations and enthusiasm, and I felt deeply honored that so many people paused their busy summer to show me respect, interest, and support. I learned a great deal about who cares about me on a certain “respect” level, and will be forever grateful to those who made the night successful for me. David worked so hard to make the evening wonderful, even giving me an introduction worthy of a star.
I wasn’t sure what to plan for such an occasion, but David, Soraya, and I set up the evening for a variety of activities and despite a threatening weather report, the evening went off smoothly in every way. I did a reading out by our gazebo which got great feedback, and people wandered out to the labyrinth and to see our new Before I Die board. Refreshments were served in the yoga studio where we played the book trailer. I signed about 50 books. David later asked what it felt like to sit at a table with so many people in line waiting to get your autograph. “Humbling” was all I could answer. We gave away some prize baskets filled with my homemade wine and items that are reflective of the book’s themes, and had some great conversations about writing and living off the grid. When the evening was finished, David and I had a glass of wine and talked about writing, life, and how the little moments such as this make hard work worthwhile.
Years ago, I decided to shift gears in my life with a dream of writing full time. I changed careers, went to school to be formally trained and relocated all with an eye towards setting up a writing life. While I had a perfect plan in place, life threw me a curve ball and instead of opening space for my writing, life took a direction that all but killed every morsel of opportunity for me to continue that journey. It’s hard when you make great personal sacrifice for something you deeply care about, and end up, despite the best of intentions, losing it all together. But that is life. It’s taken 6 years to reclaim even a sliver of the opportunity to attend to writing again, but at long last, I’m able to revisit my latent dreams.
The book release was just a start. I am teaching classes and writing retreats at Heartwood now and have a great student body of about 350 people in the Heartwood Writers collective.. This fall I begin 10 classes per term (3 weekly) at ACE – which is the Adult Community Education program at Vo-tech college in Sarasota. I’m teaching journaling, memoir, fiction and Writing Spiritual Wills. The best thing about teaching is that it keeps me deeply involved in the creative process, so I write more myself.
I’m working on three book projects now. A craft book about writing memoir with yoga sensibilities directing your flow and purpose to make the process kinder to self and to the world. A second memoir about building Heartwood – a continuation of my recently released book where I pick up the pieces of my life and build something out of nothing. And I’m revisiting the first book I ever wrote, a historical romance that had great promise but never really hit it’s stride. The story is still intriguing, however I admit, I’ve evolved so much as a writer in the last fifteen years since I first penned that manuscript that I’m having to rewrite the entire story to do it justice. Still, I assign special meaning to getting the book right after all this time. I’m someone who doesn’t give up easily on anything she starts, so seeing this project to a good conclusion feels like a nagging need.
My book is selling, steadily but surely. A few book bloggers are reviewing it on some big book sites. It is fun to get messages from friends and people I don’t even know, telling me how much they loved the story. Many people relate to the themes of the book, and I’m proud I’ve captured that universality. But as is the case with most art endeavors, I can’t help but think that, while I’m proud of this first publication, I can do better next time. Perhaps that is all a part of the process. Hitting one’s stride is never an obvious, linear thing. Mining your gifts happens like a labyrinth, with curves and turns taking you closer and further from the goal. You just have to keep putting one step in front of the other on the path, and trust the process. Eventually, by continually moving forward, you’ll come to the center.