Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing a Book, pt. I – The Practical Side of a Project’s Journey

“How’s the book coming along?,” they ask – spouses, coworkers, friends, loved ones and acquaintances. Sometimes there’s a sense of pure anticipation to the question, as if they can’t wait to see what we’ve been creating all this time. Other times there’s a hint of curiosity about whether it’s really happening or ever going to be finished. And we understand the uncertainty. It’s easy to make plans for our lives, it’s easy to talk about things; but it’s harder to actually do them, to follow through, to finish. And even if we begin an inspired project… well, we all know how that can go.

“Experiencing stops and starts to a project is a lot like life’s journey,” Stephen says. It’s not all one flawless effortless process even though we struggle to make it so. “A book at the end appears seamless,” he adds, contemplating our literary journey. “But of course it isn’t.”

So what’s it like writing a book? And where are we in the process of this particular one?

Writing a book while managing a career or full-time job is a lot like raising a family… While managing a career or full-time job. You’ve got a babe on one hip and another at the table needing breakfast; a phone in one ear, a spouse in the other; one eye on the clock and one eye on what’s cooking in the kettle. The book is a passion of yours – or you wouldn’t be writing it – but it doesn’t always get top-priority status compared to what it takes to keep your life running smoothly and your work keeping you afloat. But it becomes part of that family nonetheless.

With my first book, Portals to the Soul, the Psyche & a More Enchanted Life, I was fortunate enough to be able to devote the entirety of my days to researching, writing, editing and publishing the book. And I worked hard at it. I knew I had a certain window in which to create and get this thing out into the world, and I took full advantage of it. What made it easier is that I had a very clear and strong vision for the project and so I was highly motivated and more disciplined than I’d ever been in my life. But no two creative projects unfold in precisely the same manner, and I’ve personally started (and not finished) maybe 10 books since then ~ Focus faltered, life intervened, and I let it. While I’d rather these projects have been completed, I also trust the ebb and flow of things. Sometimes what gets in the way of a specific success is simply another type of success.

When Stephen and I began visualizing and writing Something So Obvious, it was a nonfiction book and it had a different title. As we got farther into it, we realized we really had two different, albeit related books. So we then began writing two different but related books - one a nonfiction manual for future workshops, and the other a fiction novel to complement the manual, as well as simply stand alone for general reading audiences.

We’d usually meet once a week for just an hour at a time. It was Stephen’s reprieve from a busy psychotherapy practice and it was a great creative outlet for me. Although the process was rather slow in comparison, it was always rich with imagination, surprise and reward. Thus, the more invested in the book we each became.

But life has a way of getting in the way of your plans at times, and oftentimes, the book has taken a backseat to other projects requiring immediate and prolonged attention. These include visualizing Middle Way Health’s expansion and creating a new website, starting a newsletter and eventually an online magazine, designing brochures and writing a blog, inviting the Dalai Lama to Sacramento and dealing with the politics, moving offices and re-decorating, moving again and creating another website… And on the list goes of things we do in order to grow, evolve and invite greater success into our lives.

Looking back at what we’ve done so far, Something So Obvious encompasses years of hard work and persistence – although this hasn’t been painful because we’ve always enjoyed and believed in what we were doing. But the book also began to take on more life than we’d expected, not only reflecting our personal lives, but affecting our professional ones. Having to dig deep and imagine beyond boundaries opened our minds further to what we wanted from our lives and careers and thus helped shape the evolution of Middle Way Health. Creating a work of fiction – where anything is possible – also began shaping the infrastructure of the practice, which in turn now feeds back into all of our creative projects.

So meanwhile, when we get pulled away from writing the book because we’re working on other components of our success or dealing with our personal lives, she waits patiently for us to return. And yet she lingers always in our minds still with a certain unknowing and an element of ‘What will be’ intrigue. No one knows exactly when or how or what she will become, the process of creation being what it is: a mysterious journey of vision, action, patience and persistence. So instead of fighting the process, we tag along with a sense of humor, a satchel of flexibility, and a sense of gratitude for having so much we’d still like to accomplish.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of our easy-to-read, practical life guide book, Falling in Love with the World Again, in our office or on Amazon.