I’m Tired of Waiting: A Tale of Self-Publishing and Personal Growth

Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of being a published author.

The year I was nine, a poem of mine was published in the Pacific Grove’s very own Poetry Shell AND I got to have lunch with the editor, Lois who happened to be a PG resident like my great-grandmother. I interviewed her over a milkshake. It was a sunny day in Pacific Grove, which was notoriously foggy more than any other weather. To me, Lois was an inspiration. She told me to never stop writing.

She was the first of many teachers/mentors to encourage me.

So much has changed since “then.” We all know what I am talking about.

There are infinite platforms to “Just Do It.”

Nothing stops one from publishing themselves, but themselves.

I embrace blogging as I do because it offers so much immediate gratification. Perhaps it is because I have written in journals so many years and learned to type fast enough to keep pace with most of my thoughts, that it is easier for me than some BUT…

If you will get out of your own way, and develop a writing practice and get support and mentoring from an enthusiastic “posse” of one or more, you too can gain a new level of comfort with writing for your well-being or your business.

It doesn’t matter if you think your story of what you learned about (fill in the blank) has been told a hundred times by “better” writers.

Your story is unique to you. Your voice is unique to you. Just get yourself started.

And seeing yourself as an important voice that deserves to be fully self-expressed is what my work in this world is all about.

As your Self and with a Sense of Self.

For business, for spirit, for entertainment, for whatever you decide.

May 2012 be the year you FINALLY learn to WRITE as Yourself.

When I was nine, I was given a Hallmark Diary. Pink Plaid. Locked with a small brass key. I was sure it was secure BUT then no one was actually interested in my nine year old ramblings (right?)

Fast forward to 14. I am a freshman in Honors English: My new teacher, a new teacher himself, walked in looking fresh from the film set of Dead Poet’s Society and scripted his name with theatrical flourish in yellow chalk on a “green” blackboard….”John Calvin Dotson.”

We were then directed to put away all books, take out a piece of paper, pick up a pen and write…

“What?” said a fellow classmate in a shocked tone.

“Write everything you can, as quickly as you can, that passes through you. No editing. Go. Five minutes.” (No further instructions were given; no one asked a w follow up question.)

And so we tucked in over paper and with pen and wrote as though our lives depended upon it. Time became timeless and five minutes passed quickly. What had we accomplished? We had emptied our heads onto paper, foregoing editing as we wrote, and could focus better for the next forty minutes of class; but something even more important was initiated that day.

Five days a week, all year long, we started class with this writing ritual referred to as a  “braindump.” We learned (or at least I did) how to align what we were “thinking” with our writing; and that has for me made all the difference.

My natural voice/tone/style has been a part of how I write what I write– for the last 33 years. So writing is “easy” for me. Editing on the other hand can take MANY HOURS.

At age 14, I was introduced to the concept: Writing and Editing are two distinct processes.

It is important to remember this when starting new writing projects. I propose the following as a best process to get to good content as quickly as one can that one can Write first. Write fast. Write when inspired. Let it marinate a “bit.” THEN move into editing and consider using an Editor other than yourself as well. Choose someone who will be diplomatically candid and help make your writing “better” without imposing their voice on you.

I like to think that as a group facilitator and teacher of writing/communication/self-expression, I teach first how to acknowledge the voice within seeking to express itself and then how to refine and edit the final message to be Authentic and Impactful and Effective. And this approach applies to business and marketing writing as well as personal writing.

When Writing is Hollow it is experienced that way. When Writing is Passionate and Enthusiastic it is experienced as such. As much as there is a barrier between you reading this blog post and me writing, I HOPE you feel the conviction I feel for this topic and theme.

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It was Spring of 2010. I was sitting in a Sunday service at Unity of Bellevue and the minister then, John MacLean was in his WONDERFUL theatrical style (for he had a TV Entertainment Past!) discussing  the difference between Religion and Spirituality. I can’t recall what he said about Religion at all. I do though remember very distinctly what he offered about Spirituality: “Spirituality Provokes”

Suddenly, I silently gasped and had the thought, “Yes, and Authentic Writing Provokes. That is it!” This is always the mantra that drives the way I mentor and coach and guide writers and business clients to write and market themselves was born.

Yes, I sound like a broken record BUT I sing a song I love to sing over and over.

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Two years of Tuesdays with the Writers Support Group for the Reticent Blogger has given birth to other events that keep me engaged creatively, professionally and are the highlights of my week.

The Writers Support Group for the Reticent Blogger (aka Writer)

The Writers Supporting Writers Group

And introducing the newest weekly offering:

Developing an Authentic Voice for Self-Expression: An Ongoing Series

Whether you desire to write and speak well for your business or yourself, I invite you to write and speak with a sense of Authenticity and Enthusiasm. Discovering your growing edges is where the work begins. The Critic would have you delay publishing something that isn’t quite finished or critique what you have published. The Editor would help you refine the message and encourage you to publish your thoughts. These “voices” in us have their roles but prior to getting their feedback, we must let our “Free Expression” loose.

If you aren’t comfortable with full self-expression, avoid writing for yourself or secretly wish you enjoyed writing, I “gently” challenge you to take on learning how to be collaborative with Your True Voice, Your Editor and Your Critic. Great Writing comes of this “dream team” when on the “same page.”

Helping people give their creativity and self-expression “roots and wings” is happily what I also call my work and dharma.

May the Confident Writer and Speaker in You be Released in 2012, Year of the Water Dragon!

Deborah Drake – Authentic Writing Provokes, Writing Mentor/Marketing Coach and Self-Publishing Enthusiast

The good ideas that run away OR find me.

Writing is an activity that I personally do as easily as breathing.

And yet, there are those who “dread” the very idea of having to write a thank you note. I often wonder where the resistance to writing comes from each time I hear someone express having it.

And then there are the good ideas that we’ll have that run away like the Gingerbread Boy on a mission not to get caught. One trick to making writing an easier task for business and personal development that I use ALL the time is to be ready catch the idea, the phrase, the brilliant conversation overheard in the moment.

This doesn’t work so well if I am in the shower BUT even that can be worked around with a handy digital recorder.  (Some of my most creative ideas have come while washing my hair. I will admit that. How many can relate?)

The phrase CARPE DIEM comes to mind. Seize the day (or better still the moment.) Is there a napkin in the house?

Saturday mornings I take my tweenager to classes in downtown Seattle as she aspires to be an entertainer and her involvement in Youth Theater is a start. She begs for more training so assuming grades are kept strong and chores are done, we grant her wishes.

Opting to spend an hour or so at a cafe “observing life in action” while she learns Monologue and Improvisational Script Reading is a PERFECT opportunity to carpe diem and observe many a caper of daily life (not my own). At these times, I challenge myself to connect the dots creatively or find insights and wisdom to share with readers or clients.

Take today for example: After parking the car on the street and prepaying for the time as needed, I headed to the cafe that I spend the hour I have to myself.

A favorite writer of mine Doris Lessing, was a fan of sitting in cafes and capturing life around her. Her short stories, rich with emotional detail and human psyche themes, were often based on lives being played out in dialogue around her.

In one short story, she made even a traffic jam at a four way London corner seem like the most human of experiences, as the cars (not their drivers) argued with horn and turn signals and passive-aggressive maneuvers.

The Third Avenue corridor of Seattle is a busy one between the cars, the busses, and the less fortunate citizens of Seattle. Having needed to park a block and a half farther away than usual, I found myself walking in the transitional neighborhood between Belltown proper and Downtown proper. On the corner a block from my final destination, two were locked in an intense “conversation” of sorts.

A tall and overweight woman carrying many bags and dressed in a hodgepodge of winterwear was screaming like a banshee at a smaller and also plump and very weatherworn woman clinging to her rolling walker.

The air was thick enough to cut with a butter knife. It would be necessary to listen to this “monologue” for a good “long” minute as I and another woman had just missed the legal right to walk across tthe street. I know I could have dashed to avoid having to experience this moment of humanity BUT I opted to stay put and say a silent prayer of calm and resolution on behalf of these two beings who struck me as “related.”

I got the distinct impression it was actually a mother yelling at her daughter. The smaller woman seemed younger than the older.I breathed in the suffering I was experiencing outside of me as Tonglen Meditation would have me do, and imagined myself transmuting it into something neutral and accepting and positive.

My eyes caught the eyes of the woman beside me waiting for the light to turn green for legal crossing and we smiled weakly and sympathetically at one another. We said not a word though. And when the light turned green, we both stepped on and moved forward. I was still saying prayers of peace for the pair still locked in a passive-aggressive verbal battle. The young one was muttering she was sorry. The elder was screaming how tolerant and patient she was.

As a mother of a young woman in the making, this mean moment on a cold afternoon struck me as poignant and heartbreaking. It also leaves me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all the health and well-being and comfort in my seemingly simple life and lifestyle.

Not only do I have peace of mind and body, I have a circle of support that seems to grow not shrink. I have a business that is growing doing work I choose. I appreciate all that I have, even the small sadnesses and heartbreaks of romantic love and new business lost from time to time. In truth, the amount of goodness I experience daily outweighs any sadness and disappointment.

A brief walk through a cold city can itself offer me a gift of awareness to appreciate  what is always before me. We really are surrounded by many things to write and reflect upon. The good ideas (not always happy though) find us and want to be shared, when we are willing.

May we take each opportunity to stretch our authentic voices and make a difference.

A Reflection on Walking Dogs & My Writing Life

I am a temporary “dog owner”: At least for the next ten days. I offered to help dear friends out and “volunteered” my daughter (who LOVES dogs) to watch a small, well-behaved and rambunctious Daschund named “Lily.” (My daughter is happy happy, for she loves “dogs and cats” that much.)

Lily, isn’t trouble or very high maintenance, but then again, it is like having a toddler in the house. When she has a need she makes it known and stays on point until it is met BECAUSE she is single-minded of purpose. She has lots of little needs to be met that are keeping Bronte from staying on point with homework which impacts me, and I find it “amusing.”

DachshundClick here to get Images & Dachshund PicturesPictures

Lily wants to play or be played with or take a short walk or nap on her terms. She snaps to attention from a sleeping state when someone walks by outside, growls or barks, causing a ripple through the room that was previously quiet or filled with the sound of a clacking keyboard.

Morning routine is quickly established by day two. Daughter up “on time” with the help of “alarm dog” Lily to lick her awake. Lily is fed first, Bronte feeds herself second, lunch is made and we head out the door to get Bronte to school and hopefully we are all walking. Cold, cold mornings we were running later than desired so I broke down and dove B to school then drove onto the park to walk “me and Lily” at Crossroads Community Park, a staple in my life.

I’ve been making laps at that park for nearly six years now and I never tire of the seasons being played out in the trees that leaf and bloom and molt and recycle their leaves and berries.

I call this community place the Park of Little White Dogs for so many of the dogs are little and white. Not all of them are but many are some shade of white. Apartment living means downsizing on the dog one can and may have, if they must have a dog.

The second morning I am walking Lily and I and this morning in a fog as thick as white smoke (not pea soup…far too cliche…and this fog isn’t green!) I am greeted more warmly than normal  by other fellow dog walkers. It is as if they see me as one of them.

I am talking aloud more when I am with Lily, because even though she doesn’t exactly talk back, she is taking in all I say with her eyes and ears. So as we take laps and greet dogs and their walkers, we are chatting up about little stuff. And I experience a mixed feeling.

As sweet as it is to have a dog to walk, a companion to talk to, I am also feeling frustrated that I can’t speed-walk like I am more accustomed. We MUST take moments to take in the smells in the grass, by the tree trunks and of course the other dogs. Do I really need to be so driven on my morning walk? Is it really a race? I’m overcome by the urge to slow down.

Once back from our morning outing, she initially bounces about the warm front room wanting to play some before curling up in her nest of blankets on the couch. She “powers down” for a few hours, not a care in the world, but always waking to gently bark when an outsider’s footsteps are picked up outside. Then it is back to sleep. What a life!

And what about me, after my morning walk (with or without a dog to keep me aware of the value of slowing down to take in the scenery)? I now have a calm in my entire body caused by walking away all the excess energy and want to do one thing only.

I’ll hunker down and get some writing done in an order pre-determined yesterday. I’ll do my best not to be distracted or procrastinate or give in to playing too much (smile). I’ll address one writing assignment at a time in the pursuit of less for greater impact.

My guru/teacher this week is an observant and engaged wee small black and tan daschund who requires of me the right kind of attention at the right time who always has a willingness to engage in play. Play and self-care is good for this writer’s soul and creativity.

If I can give to my writing its own daily walk and loving and playful attention, I just may get all the writing items on my bucket list done eventually and at the perfect moments.

 

Does Your Marketing and Writing Pass The Four-Way Test?

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.

This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:

“Of the things we think, say or do:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?

3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Redmond Rousers Rotary members and it was special for it was my inaugural Rotary speaking engagement (with opportunity #2 coming soon!). It was exciting to be the program speaker and it was simply a lot of fun. The members were good sports as I took control of the literal “classroom” we occupied and they “winged it” in a writing prompt I customized for the evening (smile).

A fine curry was served for dinner and my “non-speech” went off without a hitch and we accomplished good stuff in 20 minutes. Keeping the content simple and the conversation flowing worked like a charm. Yes, I easily stayed within the time limit and facilitated a rousing dialogue. (Communicating with heart and simplicity works pretty much all the time too!) Turns out the Rousers each have a favorite story to blog about in the future and I look forward to seeing the Rouser’s Blog feature many more contributors and perspectives. (Keep me posted Kelly!)

I had been invited to speak two months back by Kelly Kyle, current President of the Rousers, who is an enthusiastic leader of a now growing chapter. Kelly has done a lot of PR in the last 18 months that has boosted awareness of the Service Projects of this Rotary Chapter via blogging and writing and social media marketing.

The most recent fundraiser, the Coupe de Cascades, (a 425 mile bike ride in a single day) even attracted the attention of Race Across America and may soon be an official qualifying race that occurs in Washington State. Here again Authentic, Heartfelt and Savvy Social Media Marketing and yes, blogging and writing, helped raised the level of awareness on what one local chapter of Rotary is up to.

How did the Rousers get so “SMART?” I happen to know this story because it was more than a year ago, Kelly also started coming (when her busy schedule allowed) to the weekly Writers/Bloggers Support group I host. I remember the day that Kelly shared how the Rousers had invested and wisely so into learning how to use blogging and social media practices to genuinely attract new members AND community support for their events.

The Rousers as a chapter agreed to “invest” in something significant. Kelly received excellent coaching and support and training from Blaine Millet of Word of Mouth on Steroids. What Blaine suggested and trained Kelly on intensively (at first) is what I suggest all my marketing and writing clients embrace as well. Some do and some don’t and frankly, “It’s Simply A Smart Marketing Strategy.” (And if your hurdle is authentic self-expression, well there is a solution for that…close at hand) Writing (for Marketing YOU) is best done with a truly authentic voice (yours~not someone who writes for you) that can also pass the Four Way Test. Yes, I know  that last statement is my strongly held opinion.

Developing that “voice” may not happen overnight but working to discover yours and refine it is worth the effort. Then with thoughtful timing of social media efforts and all other marketing, you will see positive results. And like all great relationships, it takes time to develop and may seem like a whole lot of work at first ~ and it’s worth it!

Over the next year plus, Kelly got into a writing and PR rhythm and beneficial things began to happen that were good for the recipients of the Rouser’s support and good for the chapter’s membership base.Guess what grew? (Imagine, your business and you experiencing the same kind of growth and good will!)

I’d like to make a suggestion that I hope you dear readers take to heart and put to work post haste.

Please take a lesson from the principles of 1.) the Four Way Test and 2.) the application of it through Social Media and specifically blogging about the wonderful activities supported by the Rousers of Redmond. If Kelly can do it with the right support, so can you!

Why not let the Four Way Test be a litmus test each time you consider the writing and promotions you will be publishing in the name of growing your business and creating and supporting your online presence and reputation? And let being social while marketing with bold truth and colorful story and authentic intentions be your guiding tenets.

Being Real Inspires. Telling Stories Captivates. Paying It Forward Feels Great.

May you feel comfortable in sharing YOU in your marketing message and writing and know where to go for a champion if support and a push is needed.

P.S. (Funny thing, I’ve been hoping to meet Blaine ever since I heard that story from Kelly the first day I met her and “rumor” has it we are having a cup of coffee sometime soon…I’m counting the days!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thumbtack marks the spot for Trusted Local Resources

Recently I joined an online resource and website that exists to help those in need find local and trustworthy sources.

Who wouldn’t want to be found for being a service provider that can be trusted and referred.

I strive to attract the “write” business opportunities and have fun doing what I love. Do you? And presuming you love what you do, DOES your site tell that story? Let’s Talk.

Master Your Voice – Write and Speak Authentically

The Daily Affirmation for the Writer Within You

Today I am a relaxed and agile and effective communicator in all interactions. I cultivate a relaxation that steadies me as I channel both brilliant and clear speaking and writing simple and complex.

And for this I am appreciated.

Who benefits from this state of mind that you can cultivate on demand?

You and Others.

May your day of communication be a day of creative graceful exchanges.

A Short Ode To Spring's Latest Attempt To Arrive

I am the next bloom on the cherry tree about to burst wide open, the next new leaf about to unfold its green self, and the song about to erupt from the robin red breasted and boldly singing to source of its Gratitude.

May your writing this coming week erupt from that place in you that believes wholeheartedly in what you are doing and being in the world.

There are people in need of you and your offerings. They simply need know what your offer is.

My offer is to assist you get comfortable with being perhaps more forthcoming and transparent about who you are, what you are up to, what you are a resource for and authentically expressing yourself so that the people who want and need you, have an easier time finding you.

All “writing rules” aside, what would you add to your writing body of work?