I have been up in the air. Between San Diego, LA and Denver. I do not really like to fly but driving across the country seemed too long and too costly, so I bit the bullet.
This October travel has been focused on finally embodying my desire to publish my writing. Each day I have envisioned an ease at navigating myself toward publication and my travels have materialized opportunities to talk with authors in Boston and agents in San Diego, so I can become educated about the complex publishing world. It has been a true adventure to foreign lands. Eye opening does not cover it. But before I get ahead of myself lets talk about publishing and the writer’s world as it is today.
The publishing world has morphed into an animal that either seems designed to be about who you know and your skill at schmoozing and networking, or having the self power, self determination and stick-too-it-ness to self publish. Then recently another group arrived to throw a life line to those who needed some mediation and help to do all the nitty gritty of getting something you love and feels like a brand new baby you just birthed, into print and with a cover that might compete in the ocean of books that come and go every single day, most ending up on the Barnes and Nobel 99 cent table. This is where I chose to start. And now the baby that was conceived nine months ago has been born., delivered and is sitting in my living room in Asheville.
This year I published with a group of women a book called “Freeing Godiva: On Women’s Empowerment”. It arrived in eight big boxes today. Way too heavy to carry up three flights of stairs. And in April my book “Roadmaps to Success”, with Deepak Chopra will come out. So, I have both feet in the rapidly moving and ever changing world of words on paper and ideas for the masses. Now it seemed like time to take some of my writing that is inspirational and provocative and find a mainstream publisher who will think it is better than Hemingway or Miller and sign me on. This is a new animal for me. This means I have to believe in myself.
So, as I envisioned the possibilities, I got a call and invitation to come to San Diego for the 85th birthday party for Louise Hay, the grand dame of the self help publishing world. 450 people, consisting of closest friends and authors contributed to an extravaganza honoring her ground breaking presence in the self-help community. She is truly an icon for us as women and for having launched the most famous names in the self help industry. I was excited to go. I stared at my closet, I did not have any high heels. Sneakers would not work. Then came the old feelings.
The voices of our culture, the voice of my mother, the voice of doubt, all started to clamor for attention as I imagined my going to this event in California. This was the Academy Award of conscious publishing. The voices in my head were a cacophony of lecture tones that went something like this: “You don’t have anything to wear Maya, look you closet looks like a bad thrift store? What will you do if they ask what book you published with Hay House? If Wayne Dyer is at your table how will you explain that you are a Gypsy and not published on any the trendy themes? That was just the start of a bad day.
These are words I recognize as the voices that have stopped me in my tracks before, halted amazing visions on a dime and kept me ensnared in my own web of self sabotage, so that my drawers and files and computer are all overflowing with unfinished novels and the next Titanic Movie. I had to shut them up once and for all and get on the plane. Not easy.
I have dismantled those voices before but they seem to migrate back at the most inopportune times. I needed a new perspective. I heard MY voice say, “just let them run their course”. Painful idea. But I did. I did not resist the messages, the feelings of unworthiness, the shame or the anger at how much room they hove taken up over my life. I just let them run full tilt until….they had nothing else to say. All the while I simply breathed.
I think the voices got bored with me. I did not react and start an inner argument, I did not become afraid, or grumpy, or little or reactive. I simply acknowledged their words and presence and then when all the hubbub died down and there was some breathing room I added my own voice. Short and sweet. “You are just perfect the way you are Maya and you love what you write, so be happy and be yourself”. “Wear what makes you feel good and others will feel good too. Share about you life as a Gypsy and your passion for the adventure and those around you will feel passion too.” Quite elegant in the simplicity don’t you think? My heart felt lighter and certain. (But I did buy a pair of kick ass heels and have the blisters to show for it).
So the day arrived, I floated into a room full of Lady GaGa shoes, all the right Couture, and name tags on every silk shirt, strapless gown and Armani suit. The blazing sun beat down on the patio. Silk table clothes, fountains of oranges and yellow roses, trays of sushi and glasses of wine began flowing at 11:30 on the dot as the Valets tried to find a parking space for the hundred or more cars.
But all eyes were on the name tags. No eyes met very often, everyone was sizing up either the competition or the comrades in arms. Most had a questioning look as they gazed at the name tag as if to say, “ Shit! I should know this person, what the hell did they write?”. The inner circle had nicely typed name tags and the new people like me that came with another author had to write our names on our own name tags, immediately culling us out to the outer edges of the throng. But, I managed to write Maya Christobel with some flare.
There was only one important question to ask anyone with a drink in their hands. “Are you with Hay House and what have you published? And what are you publishing this year?” There is was. The question that would challenge my deep honesty. So, each time the question came to me I simply breathed and smiled and said, “I have not decided whether I am publishing with Hay House or not. This year I am Nomadic, living a simple life and the answer will become obvious in time.” (Did I REALLY say that?). Silence.
It was a wonderful and sweet exercise in self love. In not measuring myself against what was being called success and it was fun to find out who would move away from my answer and who would be genuinely interested and not take offense. I made two wonderful friends in the ocean of possibilities and befriended my own self as I did not try to be anyone other that who I was in that moment. I watched sharks swimming in search of contacts, acknowledgment, room to plug their next book, business cards flying, face lifts taut with smiles. And I met wonderful, genuine, heart felt people like Lauren Mackler who made my trip possible. They, like her, were passionate about their books, willing to admit being afraid or ignorant of the process just like me, or feeling fragile but excited to be swimming in the self-help ocean, limitless possibilities in front of them.
I floated through the the outdoor tent the size of New Jersey with white gauze curtains blowing in the afternoon breeze. I nibbled on fabulous food, sipped Champagne and realized that this wonderful gathering was not about me landing a contact in the publishing world or having a long conversation with Deepak about the book I was lucky to share with him. It was about finding the amazing comfort zone of myself, in a sea of fame and fortune, in the glitzy world of being a famous author, of loving who I am that is uniquely me, who will write something that will stand apart, even if I have a hand made name tag and heels from Target.
So, when we finally sat, all 450 of us to a beautiful three course meal, I looked down at the artistic birthday invitation that was perched on my plate, orchids and roses the center piece, cascading over the table for eight. On the front of the card was a hand made glazed paper flower. When you opened the card there was a circular mirror that immediately reflected you…back to you. I do not remember the poem on the inside of the invitation. I just remember the reflection of my own broad smile, smiling back at me.