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June 18, 2009

I credit a power much greater than myself when it comes to some of my reading choices. I love to read and have for a long, long time, thanks to my mom and dad reading to me and buying me books since I was a little kid. These days I don’t really buy books much, but when I moved to this town four and a half years ago, I got a library card before I got a job!

I love libraries. I love the free books and DVDs, not to mention the large collection of free, current magazines to read.  Sometimes I go to the library seeking something specific, but often times I go and simply ask the Universe to point me in the right direction to something I’ll like, or that will have significance in my life.

I spent most of my youth reading fiction books by authors like Elizabeth Berg, Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Anne Tyler, and many, many more that I can’t remember or name right now. However, a couple of years ago I started on my 97th journey of self-discovery and was turned onto many non-fiction books dealing with spirituality and such by my (then-brand-new) boyfriend, at-the-time therapist, and my mom.

I read Conversations with God, The Mastery of Love, When Things Fall Apart, and You Have to Say Something, to name a few. For the first time I started really looking into meditation, Buddhism, and how to take responsibility for my own feelings and actions.

Since those days I have read dozens of books that are along the same lines and I get something new and interesting out of almost everything I read. Over the last couple of weeks, though, the Universe has really been taking my library trips seriously!

I was strongly drawn to the Bibliography section a couple of weeks ago, where a book called The Lightworker’s Way leapt off the shelves at me, especially because just a couple weeks before that library trip one of my coaching buddies shared The Lightworker’s Prayer with me; both of these are authored by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. I printed out The Lightworker’s Prayer and have shared it with many of my clients, and of course I have a copy hanging on my bulletin board in my office.

The book reinforced some of my newly-forming beliefs and spoke to me in a beautiful, touching way.  Just last week I went back to the library and walked by the bibliography section again. I didn’t look any harder than I had the day The Lightworker’s Way had jumped out at me; yet on this day it was nowhere to be found.  I’m serious when I say these things leap out at me!

This time, however, I turned my attention to the right a little further down the stacks, and something else caught my attention: a section of auto-biographical books by author Madeleine L’engle. I’ve read her A Wrinkle In Time a couple of times in my younger years, and I remember that she died somewhat recently (2007), but I had no idea what I was picking up when I grabbed her A Circle of Quiet.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this book, and I’m only on page 31. Did you ever read something that spoke to you so deeply that you felt close to tears? No, not some sappy Nicholas Sparks novel that is engineered to make you run to the hankies; something that resonates you with you very, very deeply.

Let me back up for a moment. I love life coaching. Guiding people is a pleasure for me. However, life coaching is not the final stop on my journey. I am a writer. Last year, when I started writing in earnest, I felt a spark of joy and effortlessness that I had never, ever felt before. I especially to write fun and silly pieces with a message. As I mentioned, though, I’ve started slowly racking up rejection e-mails and letters from magazines and publishing houses.

I’ve been in a slight funk this week. I know I want to write, in fact, besides this blog I regularly work on various book ideas, submit articles to certain local publications, and just two days ago completed my first ever short story for entry into a competition. However, I struggle with the voice in my head that says “You should concentrate on coaching and finding more coaching clients now! You haven’t made any money writing! Writing as a career is too hard for you to accomplish!” And on and on and on. Obviously, that kind of beating from my brain every day does not a motivated Jen make.

But this book rejuvenated me. Literally overnight. Last night before bed I read a few paragraphs on L’engle’s own struggles with rejection.

But during that decade when I was in my thirties, I couldn’t sell anything. If a writer says he doesn’t care whether he is published or not, I don’t believe him. I care. Undoubtedly I care too much. But we do not write for ourselves alone. I write about what concerns me, and I want to share my concerns. I want to write to be read. Every rejection slip – and you could paper the walls with my rejection slips – was like a rejection of me, myself, and certainly of my amour-propre.

She goes on to write about the various books she had on hold at publishing houses, and the various reasons why she was being rejected. As her thirties came to a close, she believed her bad luck would end, and a new decade would usher in new successes. However, that wasn’t entirely true.

On my birthday I was, as usual, out in the Tower working on a book. The children were in school. My husband was at work and would be getting the mail. He called, saying, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this on your birthday, but you’d  never trust me again if I kept it from you. _______ has rejected The Lost Innocent.

This seemed an obvious sign from heaven. I should stop trying to write. All during the decade of my thirties (the world’s fifties) I went through spasms of guilt because I spent so much time writing, because I wasn’t like a good New England housewife and mother. When I scrubbed the kitchen floor, the family cheered. I couldn’t make a decent pie crust. I always managed to get something red in with the white laundry in the washing machine, so that everybody wore streaky pink underwear. And with all the hours I spent writing, I was still not pulling my own weight financially.

So the rejection on the fortieth birthday seemed an unmistakable command: Stop this foolishness and learn to make cherry pie.

I covered the typewriter in a great gesture of renunciation. Then I walked around and around the room, bawling my head off. I was totally, unutterably miserable.

Suddenly I stopped, because I realized what my subconscious mind was doing while I was sobbing; my subconscious mind was busy working out a novel about failure.

I uncovered the typewriter. In my journal I reocrded thhis moment of decision, for that’s what it was. I had to write. I had no choice in the matter. It was not up to me to say I would stop, because I could not. It didn’t matter how small or inadequate my talent. If I never had another book published, and it was very clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing.

When I woke up this morning, or rather, when my cat woke up me up to be let out, I couldn’t fall asleep because I was full of ideas and plans. You see, right now I have at least three book ideas knocking around, but because of all my other doubts I have hesitated and hemmed and hawed about completing them. After trying to fall back asleep this morning for half an hour, I gave up, sat up, and wrote down my new plan.

Basically, it involves finishing my books and, using the amazing new technologies that were not available to Madeleine L’engle in 1972, when A Circle of Quiet was written, getting them out there some way, some how.

I can publish them as e books. I can give them away for free on my website and blog. I want to write to convey what I’ve learned, to help people, to bring joy to people.  Financial gain would be a happy by product, but, like L’engle, I feel as though I have no choice in the matter: I must write.

And write I have, on this blog post! Hope you’re not too exhausted reading all that! Be well, and remember that if you listen and look, things that make a difference will come into your life.

Be Joyful!

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 18, 2009 1:59 pm

    This is wonderful! I love how she said she had to write…and had no choice in the matter. It’s so helpful…being reminded to surrender to your passions no matter what…and it will all fall into place when it should… XO

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