Somehow I missed the end-of-the-year blog post that all of my Blog Paws friends managed to get done – that year round looking back at all of the previous year’s highlights with a nod to goals and dreams for the new year. It’s not that I don’t have my own highlights to list from 2012; it was finding the time to write them all down! I suppose the easiest way to sum up my lazer focused activity for 2012 is to link to this blog post and begin my looking back on the year 2012 there.
I announced my intent to self-publish on Amazon’s kindle platform just three months ago. On December 21st, a Friday, right before the Christmas holiday, I carefully uploaded my book file and ebook cover to Amazon. What an amazing rush of energy when it (somewhat) magically appeared “live” on Amazon the next day. Instant author!
Well, not really. The writing for this book actually started here almost three years ago. Healing Rescue Dogs initial reason for being has always been to be my online place to play with words, ideas, and to tell entertaining stories about the dogs in my life, my own and dogs that live with my friends. Or those dogs that catch my attention while I’m doing other things.
The long-term goal was always to publish. One way or another, I was going to write a book and send it out into the world. When Amazon changed the rules for the publishing industry, making publishing relatively easy for all of us, I had this huge AHA moment and felt all of my energy lining up inside of me. I’ll bet you know about those “aha” light bulb moments because you’ve probably had one or two of them yourself. Sometimes, you have to be really patient for them to show up.
Here are a few things I discovered about myself over the past three months:
1. I enjoy writing narrative essays. It’s like playing with a word puzzle: there’s the personal story that you want to tell framed around one big idea so that the essay becomes more than just about
2. Listening to my inner voice resulted in a better book. I think.
3. I am not techie. Music to my ears will always be the word “outsource.” I honestly thought that I could do the grunt work of formatting my manuscript for both digital and print publishing. Wrestling with WS over simple things like copy/paste with a right margin that took on the stubbornness of a cantankerous mule was my first clue that I was not going to do that production piece.
4. I have a short list of virtual assistants who can handle formatting and graphic design.
5. I learned that when I’m in the zen of writing (blocking out huge chunks of the day to write and re-write) that I don’t exercise and Tessa misses out on walks. But, my heart sings because I love the creativity and the hard work that goes into writing. It’s what I’m good at.
6. Here’s where we lay to rest that “instant author” label. Back in the day, almost 30 years ago, when I started SUNY Brockport’s graduate program for a Master’s in Teaching degree, I started taking writing course, participating in poetry workshops, and eventually, teaching junior and senior high school kids how to write. (That teaching career lasted almost 15 years.)
One of the best courses that I took during this time was a Shakespeare course. It was a “swing” course which meant that both undergraduate and graduate students were in it. We read a play a week and had to write a three page persuasive essay. Every week for an entire semester. That’s how I learned to write within a finite amount of space and upped my game for my students as their writing teacher.
The poetry workshops easily took up three or four years. The best ones were led by local poets, Judith Kitchen for one, was amazing. She still is. After more than 20 years, I still hear her voice as she guided a group of 10-15 of us through the critical analysis of our poems. She was supportive and wonderfully diplomatic when it came to offering concrete suggestions for how we could be better. I learned how to cut my lines of poetry to the bone, to where the story was.
When I finished my Master’s degree, the writing slowed down. It shifted to a more business like tone when I got involved in direct sales. While my writing shifted, my reading never stopped. I have been feeding my hunger for stories since I was old enough to read. Writing and reading make good partners, each one feeds the other.
Here’s the end of that list of things I’ve learned about myself:
6. Grit and determination got me to dig deep inside myself to re-connect with a long held dream: to write a book that would find its audience. The last time I felt this good about something was when I was teaching. And, that, my friends, was a long time ago.
7. Love Always Wags Its Tail will not be the only book that I write.
8. The year 2013 will be my year of “orchestration:” more books to write, a promise to get back into a yoga class and time for Tessa, Josephine, Jasper and the cats; a focus on family, and a turning away from those “bright shiny objects” that can lure
you me off course, take you me places where you I can’t afford to go.