I have a mixed bag for you all this time.
A Life Resource
I am working my way through Write Your Life: The Ultimate Life Hack for Achieving Your Dreams by Jessica Coleman. I’ve never had so much fun with a self-help book. Coleman, lays out a step-by-step process for planning ways to achieve what you really want in life. What makes this book so much fun for me, as a writer, is that the process is based on the way an author plans and crafts a work of fiction. I am trained in writing both nonfiction and fiction and often marry the two in a given work.
For example, Love on the Rocks with a Twist—Delightful Fiction with Lessons on Dealing with Others is based on a number of short stories, each followed by study notes on what the characters did well, or could have done better, in their interactions with others. Bridges to Consensus includes a number of fictitious sample dialogs in which one of the parties uses the skills taught in the book—a favorite feature of many readers.
You don’t have to be a writer in order to enjoy Write Your Life. I recommended it to an acquaintance who loved it, noting that it “was not intimidating at all.” I hadn’t thought about that before—that some people might find self-help books intimidating. I was particularly eager to dive into the first step, developing a character profile about myself.
The second step, about clarifying your goals, struck a chord because it is similar to one of the first steps I teach in preparing for a persuasive or consensus-seeking interaction— clarify your interests by listing what you think you want, then asking yourself the magic question, “Why?” until you have defined your interests or concerns in a way that leads to creative thinking about how to achieve them.
I’m really having fun with the third step, composing the first chapter all about myself. Although, as mentioned, you don’t need to be a trained writer to benefit from this book, I enjoy putting all my best skills into it. Who knows, it might eventually evolve into a memoir.
A Very Special Mail Carrier
On the day I began writing this blog post, I was roused from my computer by a knock at the door. I opened it to find a USPS carrier showing me an envelope that had been returned to sender. The return address had the initials MA, and my street address, but no apartment number. Rather than just dumping the letter into my box in the apartment complex mail room, he had walked up to my apartment to see if I had really sent that letter. What’s more, since he was coming up here anyway, he also brought me all my mail, saving me a trip to the mail room on a busy day.
I sometimes feel disheartened by all the dissension and polarization in our society. Someone like this man, who took the time and trouble to come to my apartment, heartens me. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the movie The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey. Galadriel, a powerful elven queen with super powers, asks a question of Gandalf, a wizard, “Why the hobbit?” When undertaking a dangerous quest, why did the wizard take along Bilbo Baggins, a member of a mild, peace loving race of people who average about 3 feet 4 inches in height?
Gandalf replies: “Saruman [head wizard] believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I found it is the small things, every day deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay, simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”
Likewise, the simple act of a kindly mail carrier gives me courage.
A Milestone in Progress on My New Book
I recently completed a polished draft of the book I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. I emphasize the word “draft” because there is still a lot to be done. In order to produce the best possible work, it’s important to get a book critiqued by other writer(s). I have engaged Jessica Coleman, mentioned above, to do a first critique for me. After I see what she comes up with, I will have a better idea how much more critique I want.
This is only one step in the process toward publication, but it’s a big step. It felt soooo good to get that manuscript winging its way through the ether to Jessica. Later, I might want additional critiques from other writers, and possibly from ordinary readers. Meanwhile, I’ll turn my attention to other aspects. For example, I will start getting things set up with the publisher, work with a graphic artist on the cover design, and research ways to promote the book.
I played with several different titles for the book and finally arrived at Women Can Renew the World IF … and So Can You. I would love to have your feedback on this title. Please give the feedback in whatever way is most convenient for you. You can simply use the comment space at the end of this post. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you read this on Facebook or LinkedIn, you can comment there.
I look forward to hearing from you, and in the meanwhile, focus on the heartening every day deeds of ordinary folk like Bilbo Baggins and my mail carrier.