24 hours ago, I was in a tizzy about the writing life: I had reached out to dozens of people through emails and calls to set up readings, blog tour interviews or guest posts, and media coverage for The Divorce Girl. Working with my tireless and encouraging publisher, and without a publicity budget (welcome to the world of small, medium, and even sometimes, big presses in 2012), I used time to make up for money, yet reaching out and touching somebody wasn’t exactly getting me touched in return. Instead of counting sheep late at night, I was counting all the unanswered emails I sent out.
I believe so deeply in the healing story of The Divorce Girl and how this book truly has something good to offer the world at large, and because of or despite that, I was getting overwhelmed with all I lacked, such as a publicist, as well as my fears that there wouldn’t be enough self-propelled promotion of this novel. I kept envisioning my main character, a lovely teenage girl named Deborah, looking up from whatever book she was reading to see who was coming to meet her, and seeing no one, rolling her eyes at me and going back to her book.
“I need a brain adjustment,” I told a friend, who also makes a living in the arts and knew exactly what I was talking about. Having spent years deconstructing the layers of childhood dreams about what being a writer would be like, and instead, constructing realities based on working with publishers I admire, who value my work and help me reach audiences who care, I thought I was forever living in the land of feeling blessed to write. Turns out I can still get lost.
Today, I found my way via a drive to Council Grove, long (or so it seemed) bike ride with an old friend in the blaring sun (and occasional shade) on the new Flint Hills trail, and fried chicken at the venerable Hays House. My friend, who lives a life with contemplation and prayer, shared with me that when she’s too focused on what she’s doing (and not doing), she tried to adjust her words and deeds toward her relationship with God, which informs what she does (and doesn’t) and helps her regain balance.
It’s an obvious notion: focus your life on your relationship with whatever is most sacred and powerful to you. While it’s a simple turning of the inward head, it’s also a tilt from the habitual ways to live to the ways that live that matter most to us.
Driving home through the Flint Hills, the air-conditioning blaring, I slipped a CD with the soundtrack to, of all things, Godspell into the CD player, and sang my heart out. I would continue to work on promoting my book, but I would return my eyes to how I could “see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly” (dear friends who don’t believe in God, no worries here — just substitute whatever you believe in most in life for “thee”).
When I got home, I ended up trotting quickly to a radio studio to do a last-minute interview, and answering a bunch of (answered!) emails, including one that will bring me to my hometown synagogue in New Jersey to do a reading this fall. Brain adjusted to align with my heart and this great gift of life (despite its odd choice of dressing itself in 90+ humid degrees at the moment), I’m back in the saddle, realizing the horse will go where it goes, and I’m here to ride.