People often ask me whether writing my book has been therapeutic - and I answer, "No…but the publishing process sure has been."
You've probably heard a dozen times that writing a book is easy compared to getting it published. Whether you choose the traditional publishing route or the self-publishing path, both avenues require boatloads of work, which, for us creative types can be fraught with anxiety. We'd much rather be creating than promoting our work.
Nevertheless, it was time to launch my book and I felt completely out of my element and unprepared.
There are a lot of myths out there about self-publishing. One of the biggest is that we have complete control over our book. I'm here to tell you this is NOT the case. At least it wasn't for me; I didn't even have control over the price of this book..
So, how many of you have been through harrowing events in your life that eventually turned out to be gifts? One of the messages in Natural Disasters is this: there are valuable lessons to be learned in every circumstance. Or, as my protagonist, Maggie Chisholm says, "There's a golden nugget in every manure pile."
So what gold nuggets have I gleaned from self-publishing my book?
Being a therapist I see almost everything in life acting like a mirror for us: a mirror that often reflects back to us the things we haven't wanted to see in ourselves. For example, when I received the 1st proof of my manuscript from my publisher, I was totally mortified. The formatting was so messed up I had to ask them whether they'd outsourced the work to people who didn't speak English! Before sending them the manuscript, I was required to give them detailed instructions for its design and formatting. So, I spent 2 days specifying exactly what I wanted. But they changed the design, the margins, the fonts, lost the spacing and the italics, etc., etc. I was appalled, especially since I knew this would cause me to miss my original release date. But that was only one of many unexpected hurdles.
This entire process has also been a mirror for me in which I've seen my shadow side in glorious Technicolor: my impatience, my low tolerance for frustration, my childish responses to disappointment, and my reluctance to surrender to God's Big Picture. Which isn't about outcomes, or personal agendas, or egoistic dreams. It's about discovering who I really am in order to fulfill my purpose here…which is all about love. Ironically enough, it's what Maggie had to learn in Natural Disasters.
Nothing brings us face to face with ourselves quite like roadblocks along the highway to our goals. So, I have to say that the anger and dismay I've experienced via self-publishing have inspired me to take a deeper look within and work on relinquishing behaviors that don't serve me or my loved ones…starting with my negative responses to all the obstacles I've had to face.
I've also had to let go of my resistance to crawling out of my comfort zone and facing my fear of public speaking. If I'm going to share some of the lessons I've learned in my 7 decades on this planet, it's time to surrender this old childhood program of mine. So, in spite of feeling awkward and ill-prepared, I see this as an opportunity to grow, which is a big gift in this whole process.
Another gift is learning to accept what is. Having no control over my publisher's production quality - like the printing process - I'm letting go of resulting imperfections. Why drive myself crazy over work that doesn't turn out the way I've envisioned and can't be changed at this point? Imperfections are a fact of life.
Throughout this endeavor I've run up against my own limitations repeatedly. Having patience in the midst of exasperations, while showing compassion for the foibles and failings of others, including myself, has been illuminating. Such lessons are invaluable gifts…despite my frequent desire to grind my teeth and say, "I quit!" The bottom line is that we're all simply doing the best that we can with what we've got.
Yes, the self-discovery I've been experiencing, courtesy of my self-publishing venture, has been a personally expansive journey. And one for which I'm grateful. It's taught me more about self-love and loving others. For when we choose to look in the mirror and shed old attitudes and behaviors that hinder us from being all God has created us to be, we are opening the door to love. And I believe that love is our purpose for being. Which is the whole point of Natural Disasters.
So, yes, it's been an arduous journey. Yet the personal insights - the perks - have been more important than the pitfalls. I have more room to grow now…for with greater self-awareness comes a greater capacity for love.