Imagine it. Believe in it. Create it.
I have often heard that writing a book is everyone’s “secret” dream. I recently read a surprising statistic-more than 90% of young people say they want to write a book at some point in their life. It certainly was one of my childhood dreams-yet one that I never, ever expected to be realized.
I’ll admit my childhood aspiration to become a writer was, in a large part, to prove myself. To prove that I was smart enough. Good enough. Had what it took. Had enough grit, determination, and persistence. I was raised in a family with ridiculously high IQs and multiple advanced degrees. Unfortunately, they were a pretentious lot who greatly enjoyed boasting about their genius to others they considered "less intellectually gifted".
Success in my family was based on intellectual achievement and material success. The quality of, in fact, the very essence of a person, was secondary. As a child, I was turned off by this emphasis on brain power and the corresponding arrogant attitude towards those “less intelligent.” Instead, I was concerned with humanity and individuality. Kindness, compassion, love, integrity, authenticity-these qualities were essential to me. Yes, intelligence added to the mix was nice, yet very secondary.
Thus, I was an enigma to my family. My values were unappreciated and misunderstood. Since my world did not revolve around idolizing and wanting to emulate pure genius, I was labeled the ‘dumb one’ in the family-the least likely to achieve anything of value. Sadly, for most of my life I bought into the family ‘role’ I had been assigned. Needless to say, it greatly affected my self-esteem and belief that I was capable of intellectual, or any type of nominal achievement.
Years later, I obtained my Doctorate of Philosophy in Metaphysical Science. I entered graduate school for one reason only-I am fascinated by the study of consciousness and what lays beyond the physical world. If I am being completely honest, obtaining my degree did boost my self-esteem and belief that I was intelligent. I no longer felt like the family ‘loser.’ So yes, there was a bit of ego involved and an underlying need to ‘prove myself’ .
I began writing online articles for scientific organizations. I was invited to become a research team member of a prestigious academic foundation investigating the interconnection between consciousness, non-human contact, and paranormal activity.
The foundation decided to publish a book detailing the results of its five-year, comprehensive, cutting-edge study. Lynn Miller and I were asked to write a chapter for the book. We put a great deal of time and effort into our chapter, which contained complex information/theories regarding Near-death and Out-body experiences. However, shortly after submission, we began to feel quite uncomfortable with the both the direction of the manuscript, and some questionable ethical choices made by "head honchos." At this juncture, deciding we were misaligned with the book’s original intention, we withdrew our thirty page chapter.
We began thinking…could this single chapter become a book? Did we have enough patience, tenacity, and determination to make it happen? Were we skilled enough writers? Could we possibly find a publisher willing to accept our manuscript? Especially one concerning consciousness and inexplicable phenomena-an extremely specific niche?
We decided to go for it, and were lucky enough to find a publisher almost immediately. Really, really lucky. However, our publisher passed away suddenly and quite unexpectedly. This was heart-breaking on both personal and professional levels. Our publisher was a lovely, highly respected researcher and author, and will be dearly missed by so many of us in the field.
We needed to start from scratch. We took a deep breath, crossed our fingers, and began mailing out proposals again.
Sending book proposals to publishing houses is downright scary. Publishers reject 95% of all book submissions. You have to dig deep and brace yourself for rejection after rejection. Some rejection letters will be kind, some less so. Some publishers never respond at all.
Nearly always, your pile of rejection letters will grow into a mini mountain. You take it personally, and feel like a failure. You get depressed and/or anxious. Your back hurts from sitting and typing too long. You develop eyestrain. Headaches become fun and frequent visitors.
Then you reframe your thought process and try to be objective. You remind yourself that the international best-seller, Chicken Soup for the Soul, received 144 rejection letters! Yet, all along, you secretly keep wondering, “Am I good enough?" Then, the cycle of anxiety, waiting, and self-doubt creeps in again.
You decide to put back on your big-girl pants, grit your teeth, and send out yet another inquiry. Until finally, one day, you receive an acceptance letter. You jump and down fist pumping. You celebrate. You call all of your friends and scream “I am good enough, I can officially call myself a writer!”
Once your manuscript is accepted, the real work begins. You dig in again. Edits, re-writes, organizational issues, more editing, and more re-writes. Adding new material, while deleting areas that lack flow or interest. Carving hours out of already exhausting days to polish words and paragraphs. Since there are deadlines to meet, you work when you are sick, having personal/emotional issues, feel like taking a break, having a meltdown, or just aren’t in the mood. You don’t have that luxury.
And then THE DAY arrives. After spending thousands of hours of brain frying labor, you are done. You are exhausted, yet ecstatic.
Writing a book is alternately exhilarating, incredibly stimulating, frustrating, and at times, just plain overwhelming. You may have a good cry. At times, you feel like giving up.
One of my favorite writer’s quotes about the difficulty of writing is by the American author Thomas Harris:
Writing is the hardest thing I have ever done-including digging irrigation ditches.
Another is by Ernest Hemingway:
The first draft of everything is shit.
(And by the way, he’s right! That’s a whole other blog in itself)
What have we have learned from this process? Several things. First, to turn off the old “We are incapable or not good enough to achieve anything” tapes in our heads. To never, ever give up on our passion, our dreams, or belief in ourselves. To try (and this is a work in progress) to not take manuscript rejection personally. And finally, to muster the courage to take action. To try again and again to realize our dreams. Not matter how many times it takes.
I always believed this adage was a bit corny and trite, yet, I now recognize its soundness:
Our book, Convergence, The Interconnection of Extraordinary Experiences by Barbara Mango, Ph.D. and Lynn Miller, MS is now available for pre-sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.