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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Downward Dog

This morning I tried to do yoga in the living room while the puppy nuzzled my feet. He thought downward dog was an invitation to lick my hair. When I got down on the floor completely, he thought it was an invitation to pounce. It seemed a fitting way to start the day. “Imperfect Serenity” is an apt description of my current mood.

I’d been humming along on my new book until last night when a friend’s comments spun me into a little crisis of self-doubt. It’s my own fault, asking for feedback after only two chapters, though it’s probably good to face the hard questions now, rather than after six or seven chapters. The question I’m asking this morning is how to tell the difference between making my writing accessible and dumbing it down or depoliticizing it to make it marketable. I already suspected that what I have so far is not as accessible as it could be. I had noticed that I had a lot of footnotes, which is usually a bad sign for a trade paperback book. I also know I can get preachy when I get into the political issues. My friend’s comments and those of my husband who had just read a bit confirmed that. But on the other hand, I refuse to change who I am fundamentally to fit into a publishing world that caters to celebrity cookbooks and self-help drivel. So the writing challenge of the day is how to be a more effective me, rather than someone else.

So I’m suddenly remembering that I sometimes pray for guidance with my writing. I need to trust that and do it more often. I need to remember that writing is a leading for me, not just a career, though I would like it to be a career, too. Remembering that may also be a way of making the book more accessible, staying with stories of people searching for God’s guidance about what they should accept and what they should change in their lives. This may also just be one more of those experiences designed by the universe to teach me trust and patience. After writing a book about motherhood that I wasn’t able to sell, my confidence in myself and Providence is just a little shaky. And yet I know trusting is the right thing to do.

I’m not a perfect practitioner. I have an image of how serenity is supposed to look, but just like my yoga practice, my spiritual life is often disrupted by the puppy mussing up my hair and the kids needing breakfast. But that’s what I want to write about: how we live a spiritual life in the real world of interruptions and distractions.

On another note, after my last post someone e-mailed me to ask how to sign up for RSS feed to get notices whenever I add a post. Here’s the advice of my friend Phil who is my mentor in these matters:
Here's a link to the blog subscription tool I use:
You set up a (free) account using your e-mail address and a password, and then you can subscribe to any blog that offers an RSS, XML or Atom feed. (I think you just right-click on the feed icon on the site, copy the link, and paste it into Bloglines' subscription form. But you can experiment.)

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous ccmelby said...


Reading your post made me think of something I had just read in Julia Cameron's book "The Right to Write."

"I do not experience writing as a monologue. I experience it as a conversation. Writing raises questions 'I' hadn't thought of.
Writing offers 'me' a different perspective, a different and more engaging way to look at things...I call it living 'heartfully' and buried in that word 'heart' is the word 'art' and another word, 'ear.' Writing is the art of a listening heart."

You're having the conversation, asking the questions, and listening to your heart. Keep writing.


3:15 PM  

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