Last updated on October 27th, 2023 at 04:38 pm
The week before my book manuscript is due, I will unplug from my iPhone, Facebook, and Gmail and lock myself away in a beautiful cabin, alone with my laptop, my writing vision, and my thoughts.
I have been on weeklong silent retreats where I unplugged from the world and talked to no one for a week, and I loved it. This will be a different experience because rather than doing yoga and meditating and chilling by the pool, as I have done on past silent retreats, I will be finishing my manuscript.
I have been working on this book for a year now, which seems surreal.
I have been blessed enough to document my progress and share my dreams, my successes, and, at times, my frustrations. Oddly enough, even though I still have 30 pages left to write and a whole manuscript to finish editing, I feel remarkably calm. In fact, I cannot detect an ounce of panic anywhere in me right now.
I partly attribute this to the fact that I meditate for a half-hour daily, and have for years, which helps me maintain my equilibrium and sanity on the inside no matter what is happening in the outside world. Despite my innate sense of calm, one could still conceivably argue that I am doing myself and my book a disservice by not focusing on it exclusively these last few weeks. In fact, I have not been prioritizing it completely for the past month and a half, which has, by the way, been the best month and a half of my life so far.
These have been the happiest days I have ever known, filled with fun, friends, adventure, mini-miracles every day, and other big dreams in my life manifesting in surprising and beautiful ways. I met a spiritual teacher who feels like a spiritual soulmate from another lifetime, and we will collaborate on teaching workshops together in India. Meeting and collaborating with Nithya Shanti is a dream come true. I have also fallen in love.
You may wonder how and why this is relevant to my book. If I am truly honest with myself and you, have I allowed myself to drift, not focus, and lose sight of the most critical priority here–completing this dream?
I would argue no for a few reasons.
First of all, I have been steadily working on the book for nearly a year, making incremental progress, and am actually in pretty good shape as I near the “home stretch.” This is just a first draft manuscript, after all, not the final version I will later submit to an agent.
In two weeks, my writing coach will edit the rough version to help me determine if the structure, plot, characters, tone, and themes work, and then I can get busy polishing my writing. I can easily write 30 pages in the next week. Five pages in a day is a breeze for me at this point since I’ve been in the regular flow and rhythm of writing for months now. Then, I hid in the cabin in the woods to edit the manuscript for a week straight.
It can happen, and it will happen.
Second of all, everything that has happened in the past miraculous month and a half. It was the happiest little moment in time in my life so far. It has been woven into the tapestry of my life, and it will help determine how my book will end. When you are writing a memoir, you have to decide at what point you will begin the story and what point you will choose as the “end.” Obviously, it doesn’t always make for the most exciting story to say, “I was born in….” and to end with, “…and now I live in Troy, NY, where I am a freelance consultant and writer.”
To make a memoir genuinely relevant and exciting, it’s necessary to extract only the stories and details from our lives that fit into the context of the particular story we are telling. In this case, I am telling a redemption story about how I overcame trauma and suicidal depression to create a joyous, magical life in which I love every minute, living in bliss.
I skim over my childhood and skip straight to the “trauma years,” when my life crashed and burned for a while. I talk about my journey from there–the travels, the loves, the losses, the spiritual path, the continuous and serendipitous adventures. By the time we get to the end of the book, I am a happy woman, at peace with myself and my life.That said, I still have to pick a scene to use to “end” the book. In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert is “crossing over” to an island with her Brazilian lover. It’s pretty romantic and sweet.
I am still deciding “how” the book will end.
There is no traditional “Hollywood, ride-off-into-the-sunset” ending here. Because the whole point of the book is that joy comes from inside, that happiness is a choice, and that it is not dependent upon external circumstances.
That said, it seems to be working out conveniently for the sake of my story and life that I am happier than I have ever been and have plenty of miracles to pick from to share as part of the book’s conclusion. Essentially, I feel as though my book has been busy “writing itself” for the past month and a half in the form of my magical and wondrous life, which will be featured in the book. My life is the story here.
It would be a “spoiler” for me to tell you how I think the book will end. And besides, my life is still unfolding daily. In the meantime, who knows what will happen next that might make it into the book?
What is especially beautiful about my life right now is the fact that my childhood dreams are coming true. Since I believe that we “write our own stories” by choosing to create a vision for the future, believing in it, and walking into it, I am proud of myself for making my book publishing dream a reality over time.
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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