Connection, Painting, Sharing, Learning, Growing: Phase II of the Novel Writing Process

. 4 min read

Hey pals,

So I've decided to more regularly share here what's going on in this life journey of mine because, the truth is, though I and many of you share regularly on Instagram, that platform is ephemeral. Our stories evaporate after twenty four hours after all, and that doesn't quite serve at least my mission to share this journey with fellow/aspiring/would-be creatives for the long haul.

To step back for a second, I want to note that this has always been the point of this blog: to share openly and honestly the path of pursuing one's wildest dreams. That's why I do the interviews that I do. And that's why I'm writing about all facets about my life here (not just writing specific activities or feats), as they all cater to the big-picture goal of mine. That is, to have as much time as possible to write the novels I want to write, and think/plot the novels I know vaguely, in some back pocket of my mind, I want to write.

So, here we go.

Two weeks ago, after just over a year and a half of beginning to work on The Play House I moved to the next stage of the novel-writing-process and emailed it to my editor. A lot of people—family, friends, online pals—ask what exactly that means.

Now, if I was without a doubt planning to publish traditionally, the next stage would look like spending ample time researching agents and publishers and beginning to narrow down the ones that would be a good fit for my book. (I still may do that next Fall when I predict the manuscript will be ready to go.)

But. I'm not entirely sold on traditional publishing, to be honest. The reason here being that I don't believe in waiting to be "selected," or "chosen," or whatever to share your work with the world. I believe in taking your life into your own hands and connecting directly to your customers/audience/readers/what have you. I am also a bit of a control freak and the idea of someone taking my book and plastering on a cover with a kitschy design taken off Stock Photo makes me nauseous. And that's saying nothing of the way I predict traditional publishers like to mould stories so that they are digestible by the lowest common denominator.

And so?

And so, I've been taking the advice of highly successful self-published authors like Tim Grahl and Joanna Penn and working my butt off to connect with like-minded people who are interested in the sorts of subjects you find in The Play House to begin to build my own network, and therefore not be so reliant on a publisher, which by the way doesn't do much for marketing authors anyway.

Though scary for a hot minute, this has actually been an incredibly fun and empowering process. The thing I'm seeing is when you put the effort into putting your book/work out into the world, you take yourself out of the pigeon hole that artists have traditionally been put in; you learn a ton; you stretch, grow; you make friends. There's no downside.

So what does this next part of the process look like, in sum? It looks like sending a lot of emails, having a lot of conversations (over social media and in person), and, if you're writing fiction, sorting out how you can best pull pieces of your story/world out of the context of your book and use them to serve existing platforms with an audience that fits your target reader.

Specifically, for me, The Play House is laid with a foundation composed of Hawaiian mythologies and rituals—rituals that help people heal and tap into their inner selves, their inner wisdom, their connection with nature, and even spirits. And so, having learned about these in order to compose my book, I am reaching out to podcasts and websites that have an audience I believe would be interested in hearing about this, and benefit, of course, too.

As a preview, some of these rituals include the ancient practice of forgiveness ho'oponopono and the chant entitled Oli (a healing prayer that works to bring our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional layers into alignment). Hawaiians are also big on herbalism ("earth medicine" or "plant spirits"), communal circles and community at large, ohana (family not necessarily bound by blood but by genuine compassion, culture, support, loyalty, and love for each other). I will dig into these on the blog here, too.

To move forward, what this period of time also means is space for a new creative outlet. I know a lot of authors who take this opportunity to work on a new story, but for me—a one story at a time type—it means taking the opportunity to delve into a medium I've been simultaneously obsessed with for years and yet intimidated by: painting.

So, this Thursday I will finally be biting the bullet and walking into an art studio for a three hour lesson on abstract watercolour painting, which I'll take once a week until November. I'm so excited. I've always had a thing for the texture of paint and for getting lost in colour. In other words, I've always loved the process of painting, but never quite enjoyed my end result. So, my hope is that by November I'll be able to create something I actually like to look at later on, too. And if I don't, it doesn't matter. The beautiful thing about taking up a new medium like this is that there are no stakes. It is purely for fun, purely for creative expression— which is a staple in my life, one I need or I risk feeling sick.

So, I'll keep you guys posted on how all this goes. Until the next month you can expect more interviews with artists — I've a few lined up with beautiful poets that I can't wait to share.

And finally, before I sign off, I wanted to share my friend Maja Kotala's initiative "Sewing Together." It benefits girls in Africa by teaching them the business of fashion as well as the craft of sewing and designing so that they can eventually become self-sustained creators. How empowering and inspiring is that? Maja goes to Africa each summer to facilitate this herself, and if you know her, you know how much this initiative lights her up. It's her calling and I'm all for supporting both her and the young girls she's motivating and educating. If you want to learn more, click here. If you're sold and want to donate, click here.

"No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path."
— Buddha