Monthly Archives: October 2013

You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe

I’m in the middle of a yoga class, doing my best to relax into the pose (which isn’t that easy, seeing as it’s a challenging, not relaxing, pose) and the teacher shares this thought. “You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe,” he says, as we hold our reverse warrior pose. “You need to be grounded to shoot a cannon. Make sure you’re grounded in this pose.”

I smile, and feel my feet strongly on my mat. Visions of canoes flying backwards from a shooting cannonball dance through my brain, and I continue to root myself into the floor. To feel my toes gripping lightly. The “four corners of my feet” (as the yoga instructors like to say) sinking down. The strength of my thighs holding my body steady. I am grounded.

But the visual stays with me all day. You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe. I wonder how many times each day I’m “shooting” without grounding myself. How often do I move ahead, when I haven’t steadied myself? How often do I take an action or make a decision or just get up and do something, without strengthening my base? Without sinking the four corners of my feet, so to speak, into the floor? Without building a foundation strong enough to handle the shooting of my cannon?

Not that there’s anything wrong with a canoe. It’s just probably not the boat you’d want to shoot a cannon from. It’s the type of vessel you want when you’re paddling up an easy river, or lazing across a placid lake. But shooting a cannon? Not going to work.

This makes me wonder how prepared I get myself before I move ahead. I can be a shoot first, aim second, kind of person. I can decide something needs to be done and jump right in and do it without thinking it through. Without thinking at all. And sometimes this works. But sometimes my canoe is flying backwards, my body is crashing into the water, and I’m wondering what went wrong. I didn’t ground myself. I didn’t make sure I was ready for what I was doing. Ready, schmeady. I didn’t take the time and patience to shoot from the right boat, or to not shoot at all.

Does this play into my decision to go slower these days? To stop trying and doing so hard? Is it another reminder of my need to pause more? To rush less? To take my time and make sure the time is right? Do all roads lead to Rome and every comment made by my yoga instructors give me yet another chance to recommit to doing it a bit differently, at least sometimes? Yes, right now I think that they do. Which will most likely strengthen my resolve to try new ways. And hopefully remind me, over and over again, of my new resolve. I need every reminder I can get.

You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe. I’m going to learn how to shoot from the right boat, or to not shoot at all.

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They keep telling me to self-publish

Okay, I’ll come clean. I’m in search of an agent again. For the fourth time. What a process this whole book thing is. I had an agent a while ago, and once again, for right now, I don’t.

My first agent? That’s when my book was a mixture of self-help and memoir. The last time we spoke she said, “I’ll make a few edits on the proposal and send it to you tonight. Then you take a look and get it back to me, and then we’ll send it out.” That was the last I heard from her. She never returned a phone call or email after that. I could only hope she was okay and move on. But I owe her. Because if we’d sent out, and published, that book, then Way Out wouldn’t exist.

My second agent? I owe her big time. She got me to write the memoir, instead of the combo-book. “The combo can’t sell,” she said. “You have an amazing story. Write it and I’ll represent you.” Only by the time I’d written it she had a huge killer new job, and as much as she loved and believed in my memoir, she didn’t have time to devote to a new author, especially of a memoir. It was a loss to lose her, but, again, I owe her big time (and she’s been amazingly supportive and helpful since).

My most recent agent? I owe her for getting me really going on this blog, and all my social media. She loved my book and my writing, and fully believed that it could, would, and will sell. Those were wonderful words to hear. She loved my book as much as I had hoped my agent would, and we planned to send the proposal out early this fall. But over the summer her world went unexpectedly topsy-turvy and a few personal crises hit. She unhappily told me that she had to step back from work to focus on her personal life, so she didn’t have time to devote to a new author, especially of a memoir. I unhappily heard her – and respect her choices and her honesty (I’d rather she step away than promise to give me something she didn’t have). But those weren’t the most wonderful words to hear. Again it was a loss to lose her, but again, I owe her for how she pushed me along.

So I’m looking for an agent once more. I hear this sort of thing happens often, which helps when I think I’m the only one this could have ever happened to.

Then just the other day, someone I met again suggested I self-publish instead. “I was told it’s the only way to get a memoir out there,” he shared. “Memoir is the hardest genre these days.”

I’ve heard this before. I’m sure I’ll hear this again. I may end up self-publishing. (A very good friend who is in the business, and who has been suggesting I self-publish for years, would be happy to hear that.) I know that one way or another, I’ll get my book out there. If for no other reason than that my daughter won’t read it until it’s a book. But I’m not self-publishing yet. For today, I’m still looking for an agent.

Why? Because I want someone to hold my hand while I go through this. I think it will be more fun. I want someone (besides me) to love the book and tell me it’s great. I want someone to be excited for and with me, and to help me finalize the title and pick cover art. And to edit it so that it’s as good as it can be. Maybe because I’ll believe I’ve “done this” (whatever that really means) more if the book is published by a real publisher (not by me). I need and want to let that one go, because so many wonderful books are self-published these days. But it’s probably part of my many reasons that I’m still pursuing the traditional route. For now, I’m still looking for an agent.

The good news? I do find agents to look at my manuscript. And even those who say “no” often tell me how strong the book is. They just have their own reasons for not taking it on. But I do seem to find new doorways opening every time the one I’m counting on closes. I just have to remember that when it gets tough to remember it. More good news? I love writing. I really love writing. And I’m excited for this, however it happens. More good news? Self-publishing will still be there, when and if I choose that route.

For now, I’m still looking for (another) agent. Know anyone? 🙂

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#$@&%*! you, I’m not trying anymore

So many of us try so hard, so often. Trying to get things right. Trying to get things done. Trying to make others happy. Trying to catch up, let go, be smart, be funny, have friends, lose weight, impress others. I’ve decided I’m not trying anymore.

Well, I guess I’ve decided that I’m going to try not to try anymore, because I’m not sure I’ll get it right on the first try. I’ve realized I’m pretty invested in trying to do my best (or better than my best, as Maria in The Sound of Music, suggests) and I’m not sure I can stop cold-turkey. But I’m certainly ready to try.

Which is why I’ve developed my new mantra, “#$@&%*! you, I’m not trying anymore.” I say it more to myself than others. The “#$@&%*! you” part is not even the important part. The important part is that I need, and want, to stop trying.

How do we stop? How do I stop? Is it simply a matter of noticing when I am, so that I can choose a different approach? I hope so, but I doubt it. Those patterns are deeply engrained in me, and I’m sure I’ll slip up at least once or twice. Or maybe thirty or forty times.

I realize that the part of me that has been trying so hard believes that it needs to try that hard. And that it needs to succeed. That part of me believes that it is helping me, in trying so hard. It is determined to get it all right and get it all done, so that everything works out fine. It doesn’t think it’s driving me into the ground with endless trying (although it sometimes is). It thinks it’s saving my life, rather than hindering it.

It may have been necessary for me to try so hard when I was young. It may have actually saved my life. Or it may not have. But it doesn’t work anymore. Now I need to take a break, sit on the couch, have a cup of tea, and give up, give in, and accept that whatever I do is enough. It’s, as Brené Brown suggests “waking up each morning and thinking, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” It’s being willing to curse, if necessary, and then to stop trying. To just breathe. And smile. And enjoy. And BE.

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