Publishing a Book: 10 Years Later–and What I’ve Learned

booksarriveI realized the other day, that it’s been 10 years since I gave my first public reading at The Tattered Cover book store.  I’d just self-published This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love.

Yes, that’s me lying on the boxes of books I’d printed—nervous, excited, innocent and proud.  I’d worked sporadically and doggedly on this book for 12 years before printing it myself, putting it into the world.  I had no idea that just a few months later the powerhouse New York publisher Tarcher/Penguin was going to discover my book, buy it and publish it in hard cover, then soft cover, and then a new edition of soft cover.  Let’s just say this book has had a lot of covers.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the 10 years since This Time I Dance! made its debut at its first real book store.

10 years goes by supersonic  fast.

To be honest, I thought I’d be so much further along.  I thought I’d be buying a summer house near Bill Gates and sipping skim milk cappuccinos with Oprah often, you know, while we painted each other’s toenails.  In other words, I thought I’d be more intimate with wealth and fame.

Then again, I didn’t realize I’d be this far along.

I am more at peace

and more grateful than I knew was possible.  There are many week days in which I am fluttering and flying inside myself.  I’m not just succeeding in terms of book sales and workshops filled.  I am feeling loved and met.  I am feeling awe at the whole design, the places I thought weren’t working, and the ones that did.  I am feeling chummy with the Head Honcho of All Things Good and Wonderful.  I am feeling established, like a grown up, like a woman who has seen too many things and just enough.  And I’m still feeling innocent because I can giggle at the drop of a dime, and I trust this Marvelous Universe, and I’m in awe of the journey and my awe has grown exponentially.

I love who I’ve become, as a result of having to believe in myself for more than a decade, whether or not I got publicity or won prizes.  I have had to dig down into myself and become a guru to myself to connect with my innate dedication.  I have had to recognize my truth and worth and love, whether the world showered me with shekels or heckles.

I found readers and students and fans and human beings who needed what I had to share.  And with every “thank you” I felt as though I could rest.  I could die.  I knew yet again, that everything was worth it.  I set out to write a book and hopefully pick up some readers.  Instead, I developed a love affair with humanity and thousands of new like minds and friends.  I found my world.

Professionally, I found a way to breathe, and walk barefoot, and make my living from being myself and nothing more than that.  I’d say I found my place in the cosmic design, only it feels more as though I found myself, and the cosmic design came rushing to my door with a bouquet of peach tulips.

I am startled at what my “life’s work” has turned out to be.  I was an English major in college, and dreamed of writing for years.  I thought I’d sell some books, of course, but the Universe wanted me to nourish souls or something.  I had no idea.

I am about to put out a new book! (Inspired & Unstoppable! Wildly Succeeding in your Life’s Work - yes, you can pre-order it on Amazon, and please do join me on the ride of this next journey.)  Holy word power.  I could not have written this new book (which has changed my life already) if I had “succeeded” right away the way I imagined.  I could not have embodied these precious lessons.  What a loss to my soul that would be.  I found joyous equilibrium by relentlessly facing uncertainty with intelligence and self-compassion.

I found everything I ever wanted, by not getting what I thought I wanted.

Along the way, I discovered my real self, and I am like one of those people that I’d always admired but considered far beyond and above me.

I guess I can sum it all up the way I did when talking to a friend.  I started out thinking I wanted to be the “cat’s meow.”  But instead I grew into a jaguar.  I found one who could roar for a thousand miles.  It’s not what I ever thought I wanted.  But it’s so much more powerful, satisfying, and promising.  It’s so much “the everything.”

It’s been a great 10 year ride.  It’s been an amazing blink.  I thought those boxes on the lawn held books.  Now I know they held tickets to the longest “vision quest” and the greatest adventure of my life.