Lessons I Learned From My Book : Losing Sight Of The Shore
What a whirlwind of a week it has been! Having finished my new book, “Losing Sight Of The Shore”, I was re-reading the formatted manuscript for the 20th time last Sunday, feeling every bit like a parent saying goodbye to their baby before launching it into the big, wide world. Admiring the beautifully presented work saved as a PDF file ready to upload on to Amazon, my heart suddenly leapt to my throat as I spotted a mistake on Page 79. Oh Lord! A grouping of three sentences had been repeated twice, two paragraphs in a row. Having reviewed the work countless times over the past month, my jaded eyes must have missed it. Had it been an error in punctuation, I might have let it go. But not this one.
“Julie, this is an urgent message!”, I emailed my graphic designer in the United States. “I know that I have signed off on the work for ‘Losing Sight Of The Shore’ but there is a fairly major error that I overlooked. This needs to be corrected and the manuscript re-formatted before I can upload it on to Amazon by this week!”
In the meantime, Julie had been blissfully unaware of my recent crisis. Having cried “Hallelujah!” after completing the manuscript formatting for me late last week, she had stayed away from her computer for the remainder of the weekend. I would be unable to reach her until Monday morning US time, by which time it would be Tuesday in Australia. Darn that time difference!
“Should I panic?”, I Tweeted. Philosophical answers like “Keep calm” and “Look on the bright side, no one’s died”, came flooding in from Facebook and Twitter. And so I decided to take the advice of my retinue of friends and followers. I meditated, I went on coastal walks around my home, breathing in the fresh sea air and getting a good dose of sunshine. Enjoying a circuit at the gym and lunch at one of my favorite sushi cafes at Bondi Junction, I sauntered across to Zara and treated myself to a lovely Winter-white jacket. By the end of the afternoon, I had a spring back in my step. Checking my laptop when I got back home, no word from Julie yet. “Stay calm, it’ll be OK.”, I told myself all through the evening. Indulging in Peter’s Osso Buco and a few wines for dinner with the next door neighbors, I even managed to have a sound night’s sleep.
Awaking early on Tuesday (Australia time), I was thrilled to receive an email from Julie. “I’m on to it.”, she said. I’ll have the corrections done by today. The Kindle version will be done by tomorrow as it takes a little longer.” Over several hours, I sat by my computer as she sent over manuscript after manuscript. I volleyed them back with my comments. It seemed like there were other oversights within the same chapter. Thank God I had followed my instinct to read the manuscript one last time. Backwards and forwards we went, my breath stopping sometimes, then coming back with a jolt when my laptop “pinged” with the arrival of another update. Finally, we were done and dusted.
As any author will tell you, the writing is the easiest part of any book. It’s what comes afterwards - the battle with self-doubt, settling on the cover design, the countless re-reading, re-writing and fine tuning before the manuscript is ready for printing - that is the agonizing part. In fact, it’s not unlike gestation in all of us mammals, beginning with all the fun at fertilization, the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, and the agony and the ecstasy of the birthing process. And as any parent, artist or writer will tell you, any experience of 'creation' changes and expands us as human beings, mentally and emotionally. Here is how “Losing Sight Of The Shore” changed me:
1) A Cathartic Experience - Telling my story in “Losing Sight Of The Shore” was a cathartic experience for me, an emotional purging of sorts. Writing about the more traumatic events of my life and then re-reading them allowed me to gain the wide vision perspective of an outside observer, without all the raw emotion of a first hand participant. This distance helped me to gain some invaluable insights into my own character and my life situations. Enabling me to face my past, I now understand that where I stand today is the result of where I have been.
2) Fight Or Flight - Through reading my life story in my book, I was able to observe that my modus operandi when faced with stressful situations was “Fight or Flight.” With my early years plagued by crisis and chaotic situations, I had become conditioned to react in this manner, whether a threat was real or imagined. By delving into, re-experiencing, and accepting the choices that I made in "Losing Sight Of The Shore", I found myself in a better place to release those aspects of my character that no longer serve a purpose and are chaining me to a point in time that no longer exists. I have since embarked on a quest to become more 'present' and live in the “Now.” Having read and re-read Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power Of Now”, I now meditate twice a day and have stepped up my daily exercise routine. The results, not least of which has been a long-awaited inner peace, have been gradual but no less life-changing.
3) Telling Your Story Honors People In Your Life - While I may not have been able to acknowledge or honor all those who have stuck by me and supported me during my more trying moments, and equally shared in my triumphs, I am thankful that I am able to do so through "Losing Sight Of The Shore".
4) This too Will Pass - “Losing Sight Of The Shore” has given me a greater appreciation for the never ending cycle of life. A phrase that has been taken from a proverb indicating that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary, I am learning to deal with my challenges and triumphs in a more philosophical manner rather than face them with my customary “rollercoaster” of emotions. After all, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” -T.S. Eliot