Writing a book has been a fascinating process.
I’ve been doing what I do as a marketing professional for so long that it often feels like I could do my job in my sleep (my, how efficient that would be!). This, as you can imagine, brings a tremendous amount of mental stability and warm and fuzzy feelings.
Learning to write a book, on the other hand, has been new and different and really damn hard most days. The laundry list of dumb questions I ask my agent, editor and publisher is at least a mile long — it’s a miracle they still put up with me. Some days I feel terrified I won’t hit the deadline, worried I’ll never come up with 75,000 words (that’s a real number) to describe the self-doubt that lives deep within mothers, and I’m bone-tired exhausted from sitting at a computer for nine hours in a row.
In fact, that last one is the reason I haven’t written a blog post in a while — after writing all day, I simply collapse into my pajamas with an enormous glass of red wine, begging not to look at a computer, or words in general, until the following day.
But, I’m enjoying being new at something.
Being the least knowledgeable person in the room has been invigorating. I’ve never taken so many notes, asked so many questions, and had so many first-of-their-kind experiences.
Take last week, for example. I had a big meeting with the company that’s publishing my book. At one point, I found myself sitting in a huge conference room surrounded by the marketing, publicity, sales, design and production teams and everyone was talking (and was excited about) my book!
It was crazytown.
I kept thinking that, as a little girl, I never could have imagined such an experience. I knew I wanted to be in marketing since I was 15 years old, but I never, in any fantasyland or afternoon of make-believe, ever imagined I’d be an author. So, when the head of the sales department turned and asked me, “What does success look like for you, when this book comes out, Katherine?” I found myself speechless.
Now that was definitely a first.
I thought about tossing out a really high number of books I’d like to sell — like 50,000 — because that’s how my former, overly ambitious self would have answered that question. But I didn’t say that, because it simply wasn’t true. So, I remained silent, chewing on my lip, trying to think of what to say. And when I came up empty-handed, that’s exactly what I said.
“To be perfectly honest, this meeting is my definition of success. The fact that I’m even sitting in the room with you, means that the life I’ve lived and the positive changes I’ve made for myself and thousands of other mothers is so special that you’re paying me to write a book about it. That, is success to me. It means my life on this earth has mattered and will forever be in service of helping other women. I’m thinking that’s good enough for me.”
As soon as I said those words out loud, the negative voice in my head piped up and started snapping that I sounded like a real wimp — an author with no goal of how many books she wants to sell; in other words, no ambition.
But, I shut that bitch radio down.
This was the first time in my entire career (or life, for that matter) that I avoided setting an insanely ambitious goal to chase and hunt down with all my time, energy, and effort so I could prove I was worthy. As I was speaking, it was honestly hard to believe the words were even coming out of my mouth — words that basically said, I don’t care what happens in the future because right here, right now, I’ve already achieved success and I’m just going to soak it up.
Wow, oh wow. How wonderful it feels to live in the present moment and not use it as a stepping-stone to get somewhere in the future.
I highly recommend it.