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Book writing process: strengthened the book and me


I’m squaring up the loose ends of setting the content for a nearly 200 pg research-based book. Sounds daunting? Well, after editing, it won’t be that long. I suspect I’ll have it cut back to about 150-125 by Monday. The experience is the point of this post, though. It has been nothing short of mind-blowing and life-altering. It all began with an idea and a fifteen minute interview, followed by another ten minute interview. Between that and some research, it all began taking shape, and I suspect, so did I.

What do you value?

This is perhaps the most important question that has been facing me since I started on this journey, and the shifting answers to this seemingly simple question have been shaping my life through this writing process. No, this question does not appear in the book anywhere, and it has very little to do with the content of the book on the surface. However, I promise you that this question became the driving force behind the book’s construct, and it literally changed my life as well.

What do you value? For me the answers shifted between many things until they whittled down to just two. No, it’s no coincidence that this question is strikingly similar to another question: What do you want? (for those of you who know the co-author of this book well 😉 ). What were these shifting values? They were all over the map from good physical health to strong financial health and from stability to freedom with adventure, notoriety, “success” – whatever the hell that means, and fun all tangled up together in one confusing mass. And frankly, the couple of false starts I had on this book were the tangled mess that my values were, too. Don’t get me wrong, the  content was strong, and the organization was okay, but it wasn’t great. The whole project lacked greatness, because it lacked focus. Guess what? So did I.

Driving home one day from a job that was paying me well but was eating away at the rest of my values, it became clear to me. Everything became clear to me. I discovered the real focus of the book and its values along with the real focus on my life and my values. The core of this book is heart-centered. It’s about relationships, one relationship in particular, and holistic health–health of mind, body and spirit and finding and maintaining that balance. I realized that if I used these values as the frame of the book–its skeleton–the rest would fall into place. I pitched the idea to the co-author, whom this book is about, and she loved it! It’s all been falling into place ever since.

My personal values came into focus, also. During that same car ride home, I found myself miserable again–living once more in a perpetual state of ennui–a horrible, foggy feeling that I shook a couple of years ago when I resigned from a long-term career as a grant writer and communications director and turned freelance full time. I swore that I would never return to that state of mind, where I was an owned employee, ever again, and here I was, trapped in a cubicle-littered, florescent-lighted hell. I shuddered, and I knew instantly that I needed to make drastic changes to align myself with my values. But what the hell were my values? Too many to count–too out of focus. A mess. A couple of minutes later it struck me–all of those thing that I thought mattered to me came in the form of two things: freedom and creation. <– Those were my values!

I abruptly quit my job.

Daring? Not really. This last horrible job at least taught me what I was worth monetarily–I had been undercharging like mad until I landed some private clients through new-found professional contacts. I also learned how invaluable my work truly is to a business–I’m arrogant enough to have thought this all along, but to see it in action and have it proven to me was something else. So, I took the leap, without a net, and here I am falling off of the proverbial cliff. It’s okay, though. I pieced enough small projects to pay most of my major bills immediately, and I’m still scrambling to figure out how to pay the rest–with no help coming from the United States Postal Service, which has decided that it will take more than a week to deliver one of my client’s checks to me… but, I digress. This decision allowed me to do three critically important things: 1) Return to being authentically me and happy without compromising my values; 2) Open up opportunities exponentially so that I can resume the work I was meant to do to realize my dreams; and 3) Complete this book!

Oh, wait, this book development process also had other unintended consequences… I’m getting healthier physically by eating better and exercising more while also linking like-minded people together, which is manifesting into a small grass-roots movement. Imagine a network of planet-loving, holistic wellness-minded small business owners banding together to share their resources, cross promote and support one another for the greater health and success of their community. Yep. It’s pretty cool, and I’m in the middle of it all.

Thank you, book. And thank you, Forbes Riley, who planted the seed for all of this to grow.

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