What Can I Offer?
Hi everyone! I wanted to connect with you again in February. February’s a short month but has historically been the hardest for me—so cold, so dark, so “I’m so over winter!” February is much kinder now that I’ve moved to Florida, but I’ve been missing you all, so here I am!
The last few posts on WomanPause have been interviews. I’ve LOVE speaking with amazing women and feel so blessed to have them share their thoughts and wisdom in conversation. And, still, I feel like I need to speak directly to you!
I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been up to. I’ve had some wonderful successes lately but felt hesitant to let you know. Wouldn’t that be bragging, singing my own praises (what’s wrong with singing!), tooting my own horn (I love horns!)?
Step Into That Light My Friends!
Why is it so hard for so many of us to share our accomplishments? To step into the light? Isn’t a success for one of us a success for us all? I’d like to see it that way, and I do when it comes to others … I’m working on owning my own accomplishments too.
So, in that spirit, here are a few:
My ghosty piece “Phantoms” can be found in the wonderful flash anthology called And If That Mocking Bird Don’t Sing: Parenting Stories Gone Speculative edited by Hannah Grieco at Alternating Current Press.
Another piece I wrote, a short braided essay “Hunger” was recently published in Atlas and Alice. It’s about me, my body, and chocolate. (Here’s a content warning: it deals with eating disorders.) Since “Hunger” went live on Feb 17, I’ve received an outpouring of love and appreciation. I am deeply honored, grateful, and saddened that so many could relate to the pressures put on young girls to be thin.
I wrote a teeny tiny fun feminist retelling of creation called “Crash” that was published in 50-Word Stories! That too, received a bunch of wonderful comments! It’s time we women changed up the narrative—don’t you think?
Probably my most exciting accomplishment, though, is that I finished my novel!!!!!! YAY!!!
Deena’s Come of Age is a relationship romp, sort of a cross between Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and Terry McMillan’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back. In addition to love (and love triangles) there is also a dominating mother, two teen-aged kids, a bunch of pets, nosy neighbors, and a best friend added to the mix.
My next step is to start querying agents and … building a platform.
The Dreaded “P” Word
Building a platform! Am I the only one out there terrified by social media? Who wants to share but not be judged or, worse, canceled? Who cringes at the thought of self-promotion?
Platform. Self-promotion. Dreaded words to many authors—to many women! Yikes. Yuck. Life’s too short to give my time over to efforts that don’t feel good or that I don’t enjoy. But … And … I know if I want to get my book into people’s hands, a platform is a necessity. So, I asked myself if there was any way I could change the Yuck and the Yikes to … Yummy? What would make such a thing as “platform” taste good?
I looked to two women whom I greatly admire, both of whom work with writers around social media: Allison K. Williams and Ashleigh Renard. Every two weeks, they lead a free Zoom interactive talk about platform called The Writers Bridge—I recommend it! I hopped onto the last one and … well … I got some Yummy vibes!
What Are You About?
Allison and Ashleigh suggested an exercise I found incredibly helpful. I’m going to tweak it here a bit, so that it works for everyone, not just writers who want to build the “P” word. Want to give it a go?
- Make a list of your “themes.” What topics are you most interested in? What excites you, inspires you, gets you moving, your heart pumping?
- When you’ve got those down, tackle this: What are you all about?
I think that’s an amazing question! What are you all about?
When I think of what I’m about, I think of connection. Learning from others and their unique experiences. Sharing with others what we have in common. Asking others for help when I need it. Giving others a boost.
Connection—that thread that holds us together in spite of what might keep us apart.
I’m also about sharing. That includes sharing my successes. AND certainly my struggles. I have worked hard in life and have fallen many, many times. I would love to inspire others not to give up—even when they feel like it. To help others feel the old fear and not let it stop them. I do my best to follow my dreams—no matter how silly and unreachable they may seem … well … to basically anyone but me. I do my best not to listen to people telling me “No!” or “You can’t!” OR “You’re too old!”
People used to call my mother stubborn. And stubborn, she may have been. But I am so grateful to her for providing an inspiration to me of hanging in and pushing forward … and reaching for the stars.
Reach for the stars! Why not?
We all need dreams—why not dream big?
I am actually thinking of getting a tattoo across the inside of my left forearm—I’m a lefty—so I can see it whenever I’m feeling self-doubt: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” Those are the words of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was the president of Liberia from 2006-2018—the first woman to be elected head of state of an African country. Big dreams. Scary dreams. Important work.
I’ve come to think of platform and my next steps not as selling myself—I am not for sale!—but as promoting what I have to offer. What do I have that might be of use to others, what ideas, experiences? How can I help others take seriously their dreams, help others reach for those stars?
I’d love to know what you might want to read about going forward. What I can offer you!
I’m planning to include more links to articles or events that might inspire you—things that have inspired me! And I will share more of my falls/fails and what I’ve learned from those setbacks or push forwards. I’ll be sharing my publications on the blog. Of course, I’ll also be sharing my dreams.
The Scariest Stuff!
Sharing my dreams—my scary dreams—may be the most difficult part of all. It’s where I hear mocking laughter, envision disbelieving head shakes, eye rolls, that sort of stuff (all the toxic messages I’ve internalized over a lifetime). The stuff that could make me shut down, pack up and go home! But … I’m feeling the fear and will do it anyway!
So … my current dream is to find a wonderful agent for my book and a publishing house that will take great care of Deena—my protagonist—who has come to be my dear friend!
And stars? Reaching way, way, way way up … Netflix mini-series anyone???
Why not? A girl’s gotta dream!!!
Share With WomanPause!
PLEASE share what you’re about! Share with us your wild, wildest dreams!! Let us know when you’ve reached for the stars and touched one! Let us know when you reached and didn’t! What did you learn? How did you grow?
Write a comment! Send me an email! I’d love nothing more than to hear from you!
And here are some wonderful opportunities for anyone who wants to experiment and explore on the page:
A MUST check out is any workshop on this wonderful list of offerings by Alison McGhee. I’ve taken MANY of her classes and am in a one-year once-a-month writing gathering with amazing women that Alison leads. (We met in her Building a Story workshop, and we just HAD to keep it going!) Alison is a wise, generous teacher, gorgeous writer, and dear friend!
And if you’d like to take a class with me, I’m offering a three-week workshop through the Detroit Writing Room in April called Freedom Through Form. You can sign up for one Zoom class or all three. Email me with any questions. I’d love to see you there!
Enjoy the rest of February, and see you again in March!
If You Know Another Amazing Woman (Or Person Of Any Gender!) Who Might Like To Join Us At WomanPause, Please Forward This Link: WomanPause
For one-on-one support in uncovering your voice on the page, please consider working with me! I’d love to join you on your journey!