Write It–Five Truths About a Successful Writing Career

DSCN3909Although many writers or emerging authors feel that they live at the mercy of the book publishing industry, they don’t. Creative people with good imagination skills also have powerful manifestation skills. This means, that if you remove unconscious blocks to success such as negative beliefs about not deserving success and if you visualize the outcome you desire, you manifest a book deal.

And if you stop believing in limitations such as there are only enough agents to go around, then you won’t manifest your desires. Writing a novel is a creative act. You once thought about the writing the novel. Then you researched your characters and themes. Then you wrote a rough draft and then you wrote your final draft. And all of this, you imagined first. If you can manifest a novel, you can manifest a publisher. Though it might not happen overnight.

And then, we need to develop our craft. Divine Timing helps us along this path and brings the right people to us at the right time. For some novelists, the journey between writing the first draft and publishing a novel is ten or more years. Others experience serendipity and end up publishing a novel they never considered writing at all. And while this leaves you scratching your head in puzzlement and envy, these writers posed no resistance to the manifestation. Sure, it looks like pure magic and in a way, it is.

So here are 5 Truths about Succeeding as a Novelist:

  1. Manifestation is an inside job. Instead of trying to align with movers and shakers in the publishing world, align with your manifestation in your inner world.
  2. Divine Timing is everything. Many writers, including me, tried to publish manuscripts prematurely. And thankfully, these manuscripts were rejected because had they been published, the critics would have devoured us.
  3. If you’re only writing a novel to make money from a publishing contract, then you’re on the wrong path. Writing is a journey of self-discovery.
  4. If you only think about what you’ll get out of a publishing deal and don’t care about your readers, then eventually you will fail.
  5. Rejection does not mean you lack talent. It just means, that you either need to return to the drawing board and make improvements or the readership for your book does not exist yet. Never give up unless you’re writing for the wrong reasons.

If you’re wondering why an unpublished author is giving you coaching, it’s because I’ve learned some challenging lessons on my writing path. This type of wisdom is just as valuable as wisdom from famous authors. And you too have nuggets of wisdom to share that you learned on your writing journey.

Write it–After Sending the Pitch

DSCN3909After you pitch your book to an agent or publisher, it’s time to place your focus elsewhere. Instead of fretting over your query and playing the pensive waiting game, return to your manuscript and proofread it. Or you can put your manuscript aside and work on a new project.

From a metaphysical standpoint, we get more of what we focus upon. So if we focus on the agent or editor’s response, then we give our power away. The power is always in the present moment. This means to spend the present moment doing something constructive. Refine the manuscript. Or work on a completely different project. Read the work of authors you admire, but only to learn new writing skills and not to berate yourself.

Join a writing support or editing group. And instead of focusing on the manuscript you just pitched, help other writers. When we reach outside of ourselves and offer support to others, we create a healthy energetic field. This field attracts our manifestations. And since we are all connected spiritually, the agents and editors you pitched to are picking up on your expansive energy.

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Photo by Patricia Herlevi

Also, when we focus our attention on helping others, the support we require also shows up. We learn by critiquing other people’s work. We learn from editing other people’s work. And other writers inspire us to make our work better. We experience ah-hah moments that we wouldn’t experience sitting by our computer screen fretting because an agent hasn’t responded yet.

Send love and blessings to agents and editors. But don’t do this because you want a return on your investment. Do it because you care about them and the work that they do. Send love to other writers too. They are not your competition but your comrades. Supporting other writers has good karma attached to it. And the fact is, writers need each other. We inspire one another and we teach each other. That’s why writing conferences give us such a charge and energy shift.

And when the agent or editor’s response shows up as a phone call or e-mail, no matter the response, take it with stride. If you receive a rejection, think of that as a time of redirection. It’s like my mother always tells me when I experience rejection, “That’s not the one for you and someone better will come along.”

While my younger self never believed that, in my maturity as a writer, I know those words are true. It’s all about Divine Timing and being in the right place at the right time. If you love what you do and keep improving at it, the right literary team will come along. But for now, focus on this moment and what is currently required of your attention. If anything, take the dog for a walk.

I am an intuitive and creativity coach. Sign up at Whole Astrology for a session today. I would be pleased to support on your journey.

Write It–Waiting for the Muse

DSCN2318From 2008 to 2012, I was a writing machine as far as short fiction. Characters visited me when I walked through neighborhoods or rode the bus through town. I also had more free time on my hands. The downside was the amount of time I spent hunched over a laptop writing the stories which ranged from bittersweet dramas to laugh-out-loud comedies.

And while I enjoy writing short fiction, I haven’t had the leisure of writing any new stories since 2013. I concentrated on a non-fiction book on music, a memoir on housing struggles, and two novels. And like some of you reading this post, I panic because I feel my muse has escaped to Never Never Land, never to return to me. And then, what will I write?

So what are some activities we can do while we wait for our muses to return? Here is a list that ignites artistic flow and creates a home for a muse to reside. I’m also remembering that Hollywood movie about the filmmaker with the Greek muse.

  • Go for walks, not just in beautiful settings, but also in urban environments
  • Ease drop on conversations on public transportation and in cafes
  • Sit outdoors at a cafe and watch passerby
  • Photograph your favorite places and buildings (then you wonder about people in those buildings or places)
  • Daydream (Yes, I know, our mothers told us not to indulge in daydreams)
  • Take a short trip somewhere or take a vacation
  • Spend time alone (since others can jam up your flow)
  • Read news headlines but not the articles (come up with your own stories)
  • Spend time with children and ask them to tell you stories
  • Spend time in nature
  • Meditate or journal

Once you open up space for stories to enter, they show up. Be warned though that you could receive multiple stories at one time. That’s what happened to me and this meant that I spent an hour or two each day crafting short stories.

I am an astrologer and creative coach. Sign up for a session with me at Whole Astrology. I am also an author of several unpublished novels so I’m on the lookout for the right literary agent for my work.

Photo by Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved

Write it–Don’t Toss Your Story in Flames

DSCN2318We’ve all witnessed scenes in movies where an author tosses a manuscript into the flames. And many real life novelists and story writers destroyed their work in this way. Now a days, it’s too easy to “select all” and “delete”. But wait a minute…

We must remember that the writing process is subjective and our egos often, if not always, run the show. The ego shows us polished work of a famous author leaving us to believe that we’ll never experience that success. But why are we comparing our first or second draft of our first novel to a New York Times Best-Selling author’s work? I know I’ve fallen into this trap and if I’ve done it, so have thousands, if not millions of other aspiring and even veteran authors. I drove myself crazy comparing my memoir to Liz Gilbert’s phenomenal success.

But let’s get realistic here. After you read the last page of that best-seller that caused you to cringe over your own manuscript, check out the acknowledgement page. You’ll see a long list of editors, fellow writers who critiqued the manuscript, the agent, former writing teachers, MFA professors, and possibly a writing group in the acknowledgements. We have come to believe that writing is a solo process, but in actuality, it takes a team to publish a novel, and that does include the graphic artist, photographer, and public relations department.

What we fail to see with the finished product include the first few drafts with notes and corrections in red ink. We fail to see the many attempts the author took to polish a chapter or even the sentence that launches the story or the final paragraph that leave the readers satisfied or wanting more. We don’t see the writing conferences the author attended or the workshops they enrolled. We don’t see the number of rejection letters from agents and or editors who sometimes left suggestions for improvements. We also don’t see the times when even that author wanted to douse their novel in flames.

So if your novel appears problematic, then join a writing critique group on or offline (although some critique groups are insufferable, I admit). Or attend a writing conference and go to the workshops that speak out to your work. Get your ego under control by learning spiritual practices such as yoga (breathing gives us space), meditation, or reading self-help books. Find someone whose opinion you trust who will critique with a firm, yet sensitive hand, such as a writing mentor.

Get a list of your novels strength and weaknesses, then research ways to solve the weaknesses and bolster the strength. There are no excuses in regard going online to a site such as Writers Digest or picking up writing books or magazines at the library. I’ve done this at various steps on my writing path. Also you might have to trim the fat of your novel and start from a blank page. Perhaps, deleting a character or twisting the plot inspires you to write a better novel. Deleting a paragraph, chapter, or character is not the same as tossing your novel into a lit fireplace. Although it’s also less dramatic and writers adore drama.

You can also place the novel in a file (computer or hard copy) and store it until you feel inspired to return to the novel. Start your next novel using the new tools and practices you gained from the first novel. And don’t do what I did and rewrite all your previous novels because you compare your current mastery to your more innocent efforts. And whatever you do, be your best advocate and supporter. Don’t put yourself down or say that you’ll never succeed as a novelist. If you feel a strong desire to write novels and that desire comes from your heart, then keep moving forward.

You’ll get there when you get there. And if it makes you feel any better, I started writing fiction in my thirties and I’m turning 52–the proud author-mama of five unpublished novels. I’m not giving up though. I love the stories that come to me, I enjoy the writing process and I’m sure I will enjoy publication of all my novels in good time. I wish you success too.

If you would like an astrology-coaching session from a multimedia artist, sign up at my blog Whole Astrology. Also visit Metaphysics 4 Everyday Living. And keep on writing.

Write it–Detachment & The Pitch

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Photo by Patricia Herlevi

I started pitching my work to editors and agents back in the 1990s. And if I use the fishing metaphor, the fish nibbled and even bit into my baits. I also received rejections which stung more in my younger years and miraculously don’t sting any longer for the following reasons.

I researched the animal we call a literary agent. Well, actually literary agents appear to be human and have the same feelings as authors. Many literary agents seem approachable because of their humanity and their passion for literary work. However, agents speak a different language than authors at times. They speak about platforms, awards, the marketplace, and editorial concerns. And it helps if authors learn this language.

Agents have preferences which these days we can easily research online. Veteran agents appear in numerous articles especially with magazine sites such as Writers Digest. And you can follow tweets or Face Book pages for the newer agents. Check out sites such as Absolute Writer and Manuscript Wish List. This leads to my next point. Stop believing in limitations–that there aren’t enough agents to go around.

It’s true that from 2008 to 2012 literary agencies were closing offices or merging with other agencies and this gave the impression that authors didn’t have a chance of signing a deal with an agent. Numerous authors such as myself decided to go the self-publishing route. And I also noticed that many self-published authors treated literary agents and traditional book publishers as enemies–big mistake.

Since there is an abundance of literary agents, it’s easier to detach from rejections. And the best approach is to put a list together and then go down the list knowing that the right agent will appear (eventually). Some authors hit the jackpot on the first or second try because they did their research and wrote an approachable pitch.

Early on, I sent out mediocre pitches and I didn’t do my research, but was still surprised when literary agents rejected my work. And then I punished myself and wasted time at the pity party instead of polishing my pitch, attend a writing workshop, or get online where agents hang out, such as on Twitter. While I don’t believe that a writer needs to develop thicker skin, I do believe that detachment and mindfulness prevent meltdowns when the rejections show up (as they do for most authors).

On a metaphysical note, meditate before contacting agents. This places you in a positive frame of mind and since we’re all connected, the agent feels your positive energy when they read your pitch.

Another warning that comes from my experiences, don’t quit the day job in hopes that an agent will help you win a big advance. True, many new authors have received large advances in the past that transformed their lives, but other authors receive small advances which hardly paythe bills. Find other work on the side such as copy editing, teaching for a lifelong learning program at a college, proofreading or blogging professionally while writing novels.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket or treat an agent as the answer to your prayers. I have heard stories of authors landing deals with agents that eventually dropped the authors because they couldn’t see the books to publishers. There are no guarantees. Signing with an agent does not mean you have sold your book. And you’ll not see any money until you receive an advance (and don’t sign with a book publisher who offers you no advance).

Successful authors build platforms through Face Book and other social media. I started this blog and launched this author website knowing that building a platform for me is a slower process. Authors with bigger personalities or brands attract followings much quicker. Experiment with blogs, social media, and YouTube channels. In fact, create a channel that showcases your expertise such as Grammar Girl.

Offer tips to authors and interview authors, editors, and agents on your blogs or videos. Another option is to launch a radio show through any of the online radio channels where you interview authors and other people in the book publishing industry.

So I’ll leave you with: Detach from the outcome and keep going down your agent list until you make a connection. And two, remember that there are plenty of agents and if you follow your gut (intuition or synchronicity), you will land a deal with the right agent. And don’t forget to do your research on writing queries, pitches, polishing manuscripts, and on the agents.

I am an author and astrologer-coach. Sign up for a coaching session at Whole Astrology. Feel free to leave comments here. Thank you for following Belle Author.

 

 

Write it–An Author’s Call to Action

(Published formally on Bonjour Bellingham)

DSCN6075Do you actually feel called to write or to do something else with your life? I believe that anyone can learn the craft of writing and even publish their work, but does that mean that writing will bring them the satisfaction that they seek?

I’m thinking of the late Joseph Campbell, someone I greatly admire.  Campbell answered the call to his quest which was to study mythology from around the world, find common themes, and to teach those themes to his students and his fans, like me.  He delved into psychology (Jung) and anthropology as well as, social themes of our day, not to mention popular entertainment(“Star Wars”), but the point that Campbell drove across for me was answering the call.

The call comes to a reluctant hero.  In Luke Skywalker’s situation, he was called on a journey and to answer the mystery of his father’s identity.  But answering a call, any call that leads to a quest, involves making a choice.  Do you choose to stay stuck in a boring, but comfortable life or are you going to leap into the unknown.  A quest is leaping into the unknown, whether you hop on a plane or embark on a new career path as a novice or an initiate.

We can’t avoid life baptizing us or sending us on one initiation after another.  In many ways writing is a shaman’s quest if you do it right and from the deepest part of your soul. If you can’t write from the deepest part of your soul, and you only write to put more money in your bank account, then you are on the wrong path.

People on this planet need a transformational experience these days.  They might not know it yet, but we as writers need to glean prophesies in the wind and intuitive what this world needs next, not the bottom line of the marketplace or the next wave of a trend. Forget the trends, they are superficial and a distraction from what you know you must do.  Sure if you can find a way to use vampires to wake people up spiritually and I mean light spirituality, not the dark stuff, then maybe that’s your calling.  It certainly isn’t mine.

DSCN4865A true calling feels foreboding in a way.  It’s like entering a relationship with a soul mate because you know your life will be turned upside down and never feel the same again. Once you walk through that door it slams and locks behind you.  Your old life is gone forever.  Then you embark on the journey as a writer.  You dig deep into your soul for stories, archetypes, and you may not always know where you or your story are heading, but you trust that the energy around you does know so you pay attention.  You follow those intuitive hunches and threads of synchronicity as they lead you like bread crumbs through a dark forest.

Then when you feel that you are on safe ground you experience your first obstacles.  These are the double-headed monsters of doubt, fear, lack of confidence.  You project these fears outward and attract critical monsters in the physical world in the form of the publishing industry’s rules, critics, people who rip your work to shreds and other monsters.  But you persevere because the calling is stronger than the obstacles.  You experience victorious days riding into a village on a stallion and other days you wallow in the mud with war tinging the hills in the background.  But it’s a cycle and you will soon ride victoriously again.

A true calling involves wrestling with demons in the soul and sharing wisdom gleaned on the journey. Once you respond to the quest there is no turning back.  At some point it is your soul you deliver to the world the form of a book.  And only you can decide whether that soul sought enrichment or cheap thrills.  The public might respond more favorably to cheap thrills, but only enrichment serves the highest good and brings the greatest benefit.

Would you like support for your writing process? Do you require a coach to keep you on track? Sign up for intuitive coaching sessions at Whole Astrology As a veteran arts journalist and a novelist, I have the expertise to get you on track to manifesting your dreams as a successful author.

Whole Music–My Love Affair with….Music

(from the Whole Music Experience blog)

Queen Anne tub, 1995
When did my love affair with music begin? Was it while I swam in the waters of my mother’s womb when she played old jazz standards and Broadway tunes for me? Was it during my first music class in elementary school? Was it after John Lennon’s untimely death when I played Beatles albums back to back and cried quietly in the background? Or was it during my college radio show when I discovered alternative rock and folk-rock music? Or was it the first time I heard one of Astor Piazzolla’s tangos sizzle on my stereo?

With a human-to-human love affair we know when we first taste love on the lips of another or see it in the eyes of another as he or she gazes at us from across a room. But what is it about music that has some of us going gaga or giggling behind a veil of indifference? And what is music anyway? It’s intangible and we can’t hold it in our hands? We can’t really embrace something intangible, but our emotions can. I happen to believe that the strongest force on the planet is music. There is nothing more powerful to align us with the Divine or to separate us with a wall of hatred or indifference between us.

Music calls the shots and its frequencies direct our emotions and shapes our moods. When a marching band blasts its way down the streets, a part of us marches along with them. Try not tapping your feet or swaying a bit. When the orchestra launches into a tango suddenly we’re all looking around for a dance partner or at the very least, we catch ourselves swooning and thinking sensual thoughts, sometimes against our will.

I have immersed myself in more music traditions than I can name in a blog posts, but let’s just say I’m well acquainted with field recordings hailing from places the average person can’t even pronounce much less find on a globe. I grew up with the usual pop music, turned to alternative rock in the 1980s and 1990s, and then discovered world, then jazz, then classical, then early music, while landing back in traditional or folkloric music. I’ve pounded a drum in drum circles, I’ve attended sound healing circles, and I’ve joined my voice and other musical talents in jam sessions or played solo mainly.

Astor Piazzolla, Wikipedia

I have no idea what my brain looks like on music, but I would shudder to see what it looks like if I never had the musical training or experiences that I have had. As a journalist then later a music researcher, I’m on board with deep listening skills. I hear the subtleties which is why I enjoy classical music to the extent that I do. I know a lot about music. I hosted and produced radio shows centered on music, interviewed musicians for over 20 years, reviewed over a thousand recordings easily, and became a lifelong learner in regard to musical traditions and musical healing practices. I don’t know where I end and music begins.

I’ve met people in my lifetime who have little to do with music. These people are often suffering from an illness or malaise. But I also know people who suffer from certain brain conditions or hearing conditions, don’t enjoy the musical journey. But for everyone else, ask yourself, when did your love affair with music begin? Feel free to leave comments below.

Patricia Herlevi is the author of Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). Are you a publisher looking for a book that marries ethnomusicology with the healing power of music?