So thankful for all the growth in my life lately… I don’t mean the ‘numbers and clout’ kinda growth, because I could never really bring myself to become good at that (and hence see very little of it🙈). No, I mean the kind of growth that comes in almost imperceptible shifts; the kind of growth that just knocks on your door one day, like an old friend you’ve never met before.
It’s been a year since I started to query my debut novel, and I know so much more now. I know about the market and how hard it is to break into, especially with a book that’s not particularly commercial. But I also know what I DO want, and it turns out, that’s not getting traditionally published at all costs.
In a recent conversation I had online with another author, I discovered I knew exactly what I want! Namely: a) be in a support group of creative allies, and collaborating over going it alone; and b) building a small but dedicated audience, over making my work the most commercial it can be.
Somewhere in the months since the first episode of The Raven’s Toll came out, it appears I have grown into this knowledge. Growth has knocked on my door, and I welcome it.
For years and years and years, I wrote things that I didn’t publish. Which is fine – I needed that time – but now I can finally see the power of presenting things. Determining something is done and sending it out into the world. From the moment you do that, apparently it brings on a whole new dynamic. One that makes me feel very happy and alive right now.
So I would say: go out into the world. Regardless of whether or not your work is perfect. Regardless of the audience it may or may not find. Putting it out there – putting yourself out there – is enough. It’s enough to encourage growth, and one day that growth will knock on your door. And no matter what it looks like, I promise it will feel great.
NB. I: Did I follow my own advice? No, I didn’t, and part of me regrets that, which is why I’m writing this. I still don’t mind I took so much time honing my craft, but I definitely didn’t have to be such a perfectionist about it:).
NB. II: The plant? In the picture? Is one of my windowsill tomatoes; a late bloomer, just like me. <3
Those of you who know I regularly cut my own hair and have an urban veg garden, but will only cook at gunpoint, probably won’t be surprised that my go-to corona activity isn’t sourdough bread. Of course, as a writer you still need procrastination activities – and so, I’ve taken to experimenting with stuff from my garden!
One the perks of working for a natural soap company is that you get inspired to work with plants, yourself! I put my own camomile on oil last year, and with some organic shea butter I nicked from the soap workshop last week, it has now become a soothing balm for sensitive skin🌼
Gotta say, the smell is not the best, probably because I only own two essential oils and kept trying to convince myself they work together when they really don’t…but my skin does feel like a baby’s bottom!
My second experiment: rosemary syrup!
This is a recipe from the Soap Book my employer published last year. You are actually supposed to do it with pine needles: alternate layers of needles and sugar, then put the jar in the sun for four months and watch it turn into a syrup that’s supposedly at least as good as maple syrup!
I didn’t have pine needles, but I did have a buttload of rosemary. Evelien, my boss, said she isn’t sure it will work, because pine contains a lot of resin that might help with the syrup-process. But! I looked it up and rosemary contains resin, too. So now we wait. And hopefully, in four months I will have syrup…AND some serious writing done, he he.
When a recent Instagram prompt asked for a quote that inspired me, just when I was rereading John Irving’s fantastic The Hotel New Hampshire – one of my favorite books of all times – this one jumped out at me.
It particularly speaks to me as a chronically ill person and writer, because I live in a reality where my ambition always outruns my energy, and my mind always outruns my body. Now, I could tell you some inspirational bullshit about how that is wonderful in its own right and not a problem, but that would be a lie. It’s not wonderful. It is a problem.
And so, I find that my strength does not necessarily come from liking my situation. My strength comes from knowing that even if I strongly dislike my situation, I can still be in it. I still fight for every shower I take, every exercise I do while taking my slow morning walks, every meal I manage to cook for myself. I still fight for ever goddamn word I write. I’m there. Just because it’s not pleasant, or easy, doesn’t mean that it’s not me. Or that it’s not worthwhile.
So. You don’t have to like pain and frustration – I know I don’t. It’s okay not to be okay. But if you can find a way to be with pain and frustration, to truly be with it, then that will make you the strongest person in the world. And that is what this quote means to me.
The Hotel New Hampshire is one of my favorite books pretty much for that exact reason. It is about survival, about playing the shitty hand you’re dealt in a dignified, meaningful way. Because, and that’s another great Irving quote, no matter what happens, you always have to keep passing the open window.