Publishing?…Does your book have These?

Determination

Determination

Every creator has this hope-
that his or her creation will be strong enough to walk out into the world on its own, with an eye for the right journey.

—–
I wanted to celebrate sending off the book proposal, and I liked this image. You have to trust your creations enough to let them go. They should have “feet” of their own in which to engage the world and an eye for where they belong.

I liked in the image that it looks like the book figure is walking in a stream. I did not intend that but it made me think of the stream of consciousness.

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Resonating with the Irrelevant…What My Book Proposal Has Taught Me

Resonance

Resonance

I am just now wrapping up a book proposal on the topic of female embodiment and the power inherent in women. It was, in some ways, a delight to write. I focused on creating the book in a format that resonated with who I am as a creator. Thus, I included artistic images, poems, and bits and pieces from my speaking engagements surrounding this topic.

All was well and good, until about 3 days ago. I have been so busy with so many commitments that, although I was working on the proposal a great deal, I really was not paying attention to where I was in the process.

Suddenly- and this is the very tricky part for any creator- I realized I was almost done.

And that is when the panic hit.

When completion of a project is a dream in the distance, it is difficult to feel nervous. But, bring a project close to fruition and suddenly you begin to doubt and second guess yourself.

I came a little unhinged in the final segments I was working on – the introductory letter and opening material of the proposal.

I could not determine what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. I wrote in circles and deleted and wrote in more circles.

I began calling friends to get their opinions. They were busy and did not pick up the phone, so I called again. Never leaving a message until I tried at least twice.

I am embarrassed to say it was a writer’s version of “drunk dialing”.

Until I understood what was going on.

I was using my energy attempting to resonate with the most irrelevant aspects of my project and then wondering why I no longer felt assured in what I was doing.

I was spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about ridiculous matters- the 2nd and 3rd sentences in the 4th paragraph of my introductory letter- really? When the body of my work was whole, complete, and authentic.

Let me tell you this, the main body of the proposal will either resonate with the publisher or it won’t. The acceptance or rejection of the project will hardly hinge on sentence 3 of the 4th paragraph, but that is where I let my focus take me.

It’s an old defense mechanism of creative types the world over. Let me attempt to resonate with the irrelevant, so I do not have to look too closely and honestly at what I have created. For if I were to stand in front of my own authentic creation and allow the significance of what I have created resonate with me, I truly don’t know if I could stand it.

Once I understood what I was doing, I could let it go and stop calling my friends.

We are never at our best when we attempt to resonate with the irrelevant in our lives- whether that irrelevant is contained in a creative project, the details of a relationship, a work situation or whatever. We are only at our best when we authentically resonate with our best, most significant aspects of our work.

Self-Publishing: The One Question You need to Answer

Next Step

Next Step

When writing or creating something large, you can easily get lost in the process.

Ideas flit about and you try to keep track of them all.

You chase down dead ends. You jot notes down to remember certain things and then lose the notes. You write and realize that the last six paragraphs are a waste because you just wrote in a giant circle. You forget important ideas until the exact moment you are working on a different, essential idea and can’t stop. You switch topics and then lose track of the first, or was it second?, important idea.

And this does not take into account all the thoughts/decisions with the publishing process.

You can become really discouraged as this unfolds before you.

However, you will always be o.k. if you can answer one question: What is the next step I need to take?

The creation of any complete, complex work actually hinges on answering this one single question repeatedly.

Answer that one question, and you will be surprised how the work is capable of moving on, step by step, even if you feel lost or overwhelmed.

In an endeavor as large as publishing a book, there is really only one question to your potential success: what is your next step?

Self-Publishing: The One and Done Method

Hope

Hope

As I am working on a new book (yes, I will now become that blogger- the one going on and on about her creative work 🙂 ), I was reading about different creative techniques.

I was reading about an author who produced 2 books per year for years. As I read about his approach, I summarized it in my mind with the following:

He wrote like he meant it.

Too often, I am guilty of “sort of committing” to a creative act. In my current book, I leave loose ends throughout. Page arrangements are half-way completed. I make notes to myself about images that I need to complete for a section. I don’t complete the image and instead move on to the next task, and seldom complete that task either.

The book is currently in a state of half-eaten meals with a bunch of crumbs laying about.

I realize we always need to leave space for spontaneous ideas and such in the middle of a creation, but I wonder what it would look like if we fully committed to the portion currently in hand.

What if, during every page, every paragraph, every sentence, we wrote like we meant it? No “sort of” attempts. No “I’ll revise this later.” No “This is good enough for now.”

What if you said to yourself that you were going to be patient enough to finish the current paragraph you are working on before jumping to the next?

What would it look like for me to complete 3-4 solid pages of my book, before flipping ahead and partially completing the next thing, one unfinished task linked to the next?

So, I am trying this new approach- the One and Done Method- when I have a large project such as completing a book.

I will commit to completing One task and getting that task Done before moving on.

The reason for this is obvious. When you tackle a project such as self-publishing, it is literally one task after another.

I think too many projects slow down, in my experience at least, because you become overwhelmed by all the loose ends that have been created if you don’t complete each task as it arises. And you can lose the focus of the work and yourself in the process.

Thus, I am trying to commit myself- no matter how small the task may be- to completing to the end (including format, font selection, spell checking and so on) one item every day.

No more loose ends for this writer 🙂 Ever task reduced to the simple idea:
One and Done.

And I am going to commit to writing like I mean it, and I hope you do the same.

Self-Publishing: Do you have the “data” you need?

When I was getting my PhD in science, we always set the goal of 5 figures for each article we submitted for acceptance to peer-reviewed journals.

My advisor and the group he was associated with felt that 5 figures “told the story”. Five was likely an arbitrary figure, but it worked for us. We had a lot of accepted publications over the years.

This number also provided a guide for when we could consider we were “done” and ready to publish a given set (science experiments in a lab are not discrete- things overlap, build upon one another, and roll forward from previous work ).

The other thing the criteria of 5 figures did was it stopped us from telling lies to ourselves that we were ready to publish when we were in fact not. If we couldn’t pull five solid figures from the data, then we had not done enough to get a publication.

And this is where I am leading into the discussion of self-publishing. I have had several people ask, “How long exactly did it take?” or “How did you get this done so fast?”

My answers are “Not really that long at all” and “I already had all my data”.

What I am trying to say is that self-publishing did not take me that long because I already had everything I needed- a complete story (in my mind, at least).

I had all the artistic figures done, and a good portion of the writing. I just needed to link it together.

You can begin your self-publishing journey before you have everything complete. You don’t need “all the data and your five figures.”

However, like my advisor used to say, “You can’t make 3 figures worth of data into 5. And you can’t make 3 figures into a complete story. So, get back to work.” 🙂

You also can not publish a complete book from incomplete information.

If you start the self-publishing process before you have everything complete, i.e. you really need to write 5 more chapters of your book, that is fine, but realize you will complete the self-publishing process more slowly. Not because the process is slow, but because you did not have all the data you needed.

If it is important to you that self-publishing is a quick process, then make sure you have all “data” you need before you begin.

Otherwise, as my advisor would say if you try to publish too soon, because he grew up on a farm, “You are trying to get milk from an empty udder.”