Disneyland is for Writers

My daughter is a Disney fanatic. We go every year, and tomorrow we’re going again. It is the one place on Earth my daughter is truly, 100%, over-the-top happy. It is also the perfect place for a person with disabilities. The staff are attentive and supportive and make her feel like she is part of the Disney World. I would take her every month if I could just so she could keep that wonderful smile on her face. And I would gather even more material for my books.

I am not a Disney fanatic. I enjoy it there, mostly because my daughter is so happy. But if she hadn’t fallen in love with Disney Princesses at age 6 I would never have gone. In fact, I was opposed to Disney and it’s money making machine of animation and theme parks. What kind of role model was Cinderella for my daughter? But Cinderella is who my child adored and so Cinderella we would find. At Disneyland.

We have been back every year.

I love the decorations, the characters, the scenery, and the shows. And I love people watching. If you need examples of every pure emotional state known to humans, go to Disneyland. You will see joy, romantic love, anger, frustration, fear and misery. Six year olds fall to the ground in utter despair while their overwhelmed parents plead, beg and finally yell. Adults squeal in delight when Mickey Mouse shakes their hand. Couples clutch each other in terror on the rides.

There is enough melodrama at Disneyland to fill five volumes of Bronte inspired literature.

When you pack for your trip to Disneyland, bring a note book and several pens. You’re going to need them to write down all the fantastic scenes a trip to Disneyland will inspire. Take note of how people physically behave when excited. How do adults behave when exhausted? What does a person look like when their expectations have been destroyed?

While your family is busy chasing Princess dreams, you can chase characters for your next book.

The Radical Housewife and Family Values

Tired of election season nonsense? Me too. That’s why I published this book.

Ebook cover 978-0-9797152-2-8

On and on the rhetoric goes. “Abortion…” “Family Values…” “The Sanctity of Marriage…”Feminism…”   The debate is one sided; white men define what the American family should be and condemn women for destroying it.

Enter Shannon Drury, feminist and stay-at-home mom. Wait a minute, how can she be both? Because feminism is about choice, and Shannon chooses to stay home with her kids. How she made that choice and why she continues to fight for women’s rights is what you’ll discover when you read The Radical Housewife: Redefining Family Values for the 21st Century.

One breath at a time? Of course, but first I need to study, clean, investigate and doubt myself.

Why is it so impossible for me to sit still? Is there such a thing as creative ADHD? I think I managed to focus on breathing for two days before my brain went back to habitual overthinking. So many questions to solve. Should I get a PHD? How can I help Medusa’s Muse grow? Do I keep publishing books, or stop? How can I find more editing clients? Do I need neck surgery? What is the name of the yellow moth in my front yard? On and on my brain goes, adding to a list of possibilities and defeats. If I’m not tackling a problem or creating something, I feel itchy.

That is why I forced myself to stop. For two weeks, I made myself climb out of my head and only do things that required moving my body. No writing. At first I felt guilty. Then, I felt relief.

Hyper-creative people forget the importance of rest. Driven by the need to express our inner selves, we burn bright and fast. And then we drop. Once we’ve used up all our energy, depression sets in because our thoughts are still rushing while our body is not. Or we try in vain to capture the right word to make the scene perfect, only to discover we don’t have the energy to type.

This is what I learned while forcing myself to stop: I will never run out of creative energy. In fact, if I rest my body, my creativity burns brighter.

Try it. Set down that pen, close the journal, shut down the lap top and go outside. Spend 7 full days doing nothing that requires you to be creatively productive. Instead of writing, make a collage. Work in your garden. Go for a long walk and absorb the sites, sounds and smells of your community. Cook. Read a book. But do not write. When you finish your seven days, you will discover your clarity and creativity has improved.

Right now is the perfect time to try it. NanoWrimo is next month.

Life is lived one breath at a time

For seventeen years, I have followed a Buddhist path. I meditate, study Zen, read books written by great masters like Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Han, and practice Mindfulness throughout my day. It is because of my practice that I am able to manage the chaos that comes from raising a child with disabilities. But despite all my practice and study and research, I had hit a spiritual brick wall. It was time to find a teacher.

Rev Zenju Earthlin Manual is the woman I consider my teacher. Ever since I heard her speak via a Zen Center podcast, I knew I had to meet her. I read her books, followed her blog, listened to all the teachings I could find, and finally contacted her to ask for a meeting. A few days ago, we met at her Oakland “Still Breathing Meditation Center.”

Rev Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

The first thing that struck me about Rev Zenju was her calming voice and smiling eyes. She seemed tired, but eager to meet me and talk. As soon as we sat, she offered me Jasmine tea and then she asked what she could do for me. I told her about my child, my struggles with grief and worry, how hard I’ve been practicing and learning about Buddhism because I felt it helped me take better care of myself and my daughter, and how I felt that I’d gone as far as I could on my own and I really needed a teacher to tell me what to do next.

She smiled and urged me to stop practicing.

Huh? I thought practicing was the most important thing.

Shaking her head she smiled again and said, “You’re too much in your head. You need to be in your body.”

Then she reminded me that life is not a journey or a path. The eight fold path isn’t a roadmap and there are no steps to master in some kind of enlightened sequence. I have spent so much time studying and practicing I’ve forgotten that the point of all that study is to live. Just live.

“Life is lived one breath at a time,” she said. With those words, a great weight was lifted from my chest. We laughed about the ways we both fight so hard to figure things out and make plans. You’d think living would be easy, but it seems to be the hardest thing for everyone.

Studying Buddhism and practicing meditation has strengthened and sustained me. I have learned how to balance the chaos and have compassion for myself. The basics are there and I know the path. Now it’s time to live.

Breath in… breath out… breath in… breath out…

I hope to return to “Still Breathing Meditation Center” each month and meet her other students. And I hope Rev Zenju doesn’t mind if I call her my teacher.

Still Breathing Meditation Center

Summer, bored kid, publishing, and no time to write

My fingers feel tight as I stretch my hands outward, forcing the muscles to loosen. There is a large spot of something sticky on my computer screen; is it a mocha splash from last Spring? I blow dust off my keyboard and sneeze. How long has it been since I’ve written anything?

Every summer is the same: my daughter is out of school and bored. She and I try to find things to do in this small town. Because of her disability, going outside in 95 degree weather is impossible. While other kids swim, hike, go to camp, or ride bikes, my daughter hides from the heat and counts down the days until school starts. We do our best to have fun by doing crafts and escaping to the city as often as possible. At least in the city there’s an air conditioned shopping mall, aka Mecca for teenage girls.

At last, school started. My daughter is happier, and I can write again.

Ebook cover 978-0-9797152-2-8

Besides being a full time, busy mom all summer, I also launched a new book through my press, Medusa’s Muse. Publishing takes as much concentration and energy as writing, and this book seemed to take even more. All summer, I struggled with printing problems, last minute manuscript issues, legal questions, and budget constraints. Shannon Drury and I worked hard marketing her book, and then just when the book launched and all seemed smooth sailing, Shannon broke her wrist. Not a fun way celebrate the launch of a first book. But the book is alive and slowly gaining readers. I am so proud of Shannon’s book and my part in creating it. It was my most challenging book so far and I learned a lot, but I am so excited about this book I would do it all over again.

My daughter left for school on the bus this morning. I pour myself more coffee and return to this long ignored blog. Now, what shall I write about…?

It Just Got Even More Expensive To Make Your Book “Visible”

MedusasMuse:

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with the Bowker website. Now I’ve found this article about the cost of ISBN’s. Is the rise in price a way to weed out indy publishers? Or just the cost of publishing books?

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

BOSTON, Massachusetts — Bowker, the US agency for ISBNs, has raised the cost of a pack of 10 of these book “identifier” codes, from $250 to $295.

And thus, it just became even costlier for an American self-publishing author to buy the universal identifier(s) needed to make a book “visible” to book-market tracking services.

Ironically, some observers will say that the move further hobbles the ISBN, itself. Its validity already is being called into question, as pricing and an association with old-industry “gatekeeping” continue to erode its usage. For some time now, the ISBN has been unable to give us a full picture of titles active in the market.

On Tuesday in Berlin at Klopotek’s highly regarded annual Publishers’ Forum, industry consultant Brian O’Leary will call on the international community to consider changing “the roles of standards and their governing bodies.”

And…

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