Posted by: Stephen Paul | July 23, 2007

Out of retreat and into the (stressful) world

I had basically been in retreat for the past 5 years since we sold our businesses. It was glorious. I had gotten very still, and had entirely forgotten what was like to experience stress (a lot of stress).

During that period I wrote my novel, Hollow Bones. Sometimes people talk about how challenging the writing process is, but for me it was fun. I was writing to convey a vision of relatedness I had experienced. Each day I would spend time with the characters (Matthew, Hope, Lily and a gang of others), and I very much enjoyed being with them. They became friends I looked forward to seeing. I would never really know what would happen: Events seemed to take their own course, often surprising me.  

Once the writing was done and it was time to take the book into the world, the retreat was over. It took effort to stay calm as I dealt with the rejections from agents and publishing companies. I got discouraged, deciding I didn’t need the aggravation, but a friend convinced me that the message of the book had to get out.

I decided to self-publish. I knew it was hard and seldom rewarding, but I felt compelled to get the message out. I set up a one-man publishing company and researched and worked to get the book out. It was still fun because friends helped me with editing, cover artwork, and design. I am very actually very happy with the result.

Then I had to figure out how to get the book into the hands of readers. I always knew that would be the hardest part. It is. I developed a website, a blog, a newsletter–all new to me. I contacted local independent and national booksellers, asking them to carry Hollow Bones. I wrote articles, press releases, ads. I pursued talks, book reviews, and book signings.

I was back to meeting deadlines, back to pushing myself. I had to travel to California and Massachussetts in June. I pushed hard to finish things up before I left town. I knew I was out of balance, but what about those deadlines? I got pnuemonia on one of the flights. I have been basically out of commission for a month: So much for the deadlines!

Okay, I get it. Pneumonia is an excellent teacher. It was easy to stay balanced in retreat, but it’s a lot harder now that I’m back in the world. I can’t just write and talk about living in harmony: I have to live it every day. I have to do that or I won’t be able do this at all. I always have to remember to walk the walk.   

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