In the spirit of change and renewal, this wordpress site will soon be closed, but the blog will continue on this address: http://ingerkenobi.com/
Dream Big and Work Hard
Hi there! I’m back! After five sunny days in Dubrovnik, I’m back with my keyboard and notebooks. I know from experience that I don’t get much writing done when I’m away, so instead I brought a lot of books with me. Business books. Every morning I woke up around 5 am, made myself a latte and went outside on the terrace to read and take notes. It was heavenly. Our terrace had a view over the ocean, the sun was hot but not too hot, and the roses and lavender bushes permeated the air with the sweet scent of summer. To think that I used to work inside an office building!
My husband and I were in Dubrovnik to attend a wedding, and I was one of the bridesmaids. While getting ready for the big dag I realized something interesting: I’m not a girl. While the other bridesmaids were in full throttle with hairspray, body glitter, strip lashes, curling irons and hair extensions, I looked down at my own miniature makeup bag and felt totally mystified by the whole experience. Karen from Confetti and Curves had recommended a great new mascara, so at least I had stellar lashes. (Thank you Karen!)
It was fun though. Being a bridesmaid at a destination wedding threw me into a brand new environment, and I couldn’t help but think that, ‘this will be great material for a book one day.’ I mean, how often to I meet people who start the day with three shots of vodka? Plus everyone was so happy and friendly, so I couldn’t help but to have a great time. And I even tried on the bronze body spray. Brilliant.
Since I don’t really ‘do’ vacations, studying and reading business books became my lifeline to my new publishing adventure and my journey as a writer. I know just how easy it is to loose momentum, not to mention faith, so working towards my goals every single day (including wedding days) seems to be the only formula that works. At least for me. At least for now. I need to keep the eye on the prize, and the only way forward is by mixing intention, purpose and big dreams with hard work, fearlessness and determination.
I could have slept in. I could have had more champagne. I could have stayed up later, but I didn’t. At this point in my life I’m a big fan of this saying by Oprah Winfrey:
So while on vacation I did what I had to do: I kept going. Which makes it so much easier to sit down at my desk again and pick up where I left off. This is priceless. I’ve finally managed to spin a seamless thread between my time away and my time at home, which I’m forever grateful for.
Speaking of being grateful….A few years back I started a gratefulness diary. Then life got busy and I forgot all about it. Yesterday I started one again. You see, I read somewhere that positive experiences have the sticking power of teflon, while negative experiences stick in our minds like velcro. It’s just how we’re wired, unfortunately. But we can change all that by consciously notice our good fortunes and count our blessings. So now, every single evening, I write down five things I’m grateful for. You should try it too. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at the result. Being grateful works like magic.
I wish you all a wonderful week:)
Fear Sweet Fear
When I think about everything I have to do, and that everything that can go wrong, I feel paralyzed with fear.
When think about that I get to create something that is totally mine, I feel like flying.
Yesterday I had a numbing tour of of the world wide web, searching for printers and publishing platforms. I cursed myself for not having more wine in the house, and for writing and for wanting to publish my work in general. ‘What’s wrong with being a doctor!’
Then I remembered why I’m doing this, and I calmed down again. Basically what I’m dealing with is the delicate dance of: Think BIG-while talking one t i n y step at a time.
Do I need to know everything before I even start? No. Does it all have to be perfect? Impossible. Will this take time? Yes. you bet.
I feel like I’m the host of a wide range of personalities, (which I am) it’s just a matter of knowing who to listen to and when. Timing is everything. Sometimes I need to be all flowey and intuitive, at other times I have to be practical and analytical. These things don’t necessarily contradict each other, and I like when there a dialogue, not a monologue.
In any case, that’s me on a Tuesday morning. I hope you all have a great week:)
Home Sweet Home
This is just a quick hello to say that I did survive the Hen Night, and now I’m safe and sound back in the Cotswolds again.
Last time I was in London I attended the dreadful, ‘How to get published,’ class. I thought the class would be wonderful, but it wasn’t, but then it inspired me to start my own publishing company, so in the end the dreadfulness turned out to be a good thing. It’s like that sometimes. You just never know what’s going to bring you closer to your own truth.
As I approached London this time, sitting on the train with my notebook and pen, I wondered what important life lessons awaited me. What life altering experience will come my way this time around? Nothing too profound happened, I’m sorry to report, but then again I was there in the capacity of a bridesmaid, not a writer in progress. I did, however, win the price for best cocktail, and I made a bridal dress out of toilet paper. That was fun.
Later that night, as I lied in my hotel room drinking tea and reading, I was so grateful I hadn’t been roped into going to another bar. In fact, I left the party around 10 pm, which seemed pretty late to me. I’m fully aware that this makes me sound totally lame and boring, but the truth is that I don’t have time to roam around and drink and giggle all night. I’m not up for it. I’m itching to get started with everything- the company, my book, my projects- so the last thing I need is to come crawling home at some ungodly hour and then sleep all day.
I awoke the next morning at 5 am, fresh as a daisy, made a cup of tea, did some yoga. The usual. Then I got dressed, read for a while, and by 8.27 am I was on the train back home again. It was bliss. It was pure bliss. (Check out my video-clip on Instagram. I filmed it as I was approaching my train station. The English countryside is truly amazing.)
Today is Monday. Husband is away on location, the cats are outside, and I’m inside reading and writing. Life is good.
It’s all about the plan
Embrace the Hen Night. Embrace the penis straw, the glitter and the cocktails. You can do this.
I can do Hen Nights. Of course I can, I just don’t understand them. A friend of mine is getting married next week, and tomorrow we’re all meeting up for a Hen Night in London. There will be no male strippers, thank God, but there will be raunchy party games (I’ve been told) and party bags with questionable content. Oy vey, as my Jewish ex-boyfriend would have said, and rightly so.
But whatever, I can embrace this experience and chalk it up to future writing material. That’s the good thing about being a writer- everything that happens is grist for the mill.
And who knows, maybe I’ll run into another indie publisher, or someone who knows a killer book designer. You never know, so it’s best to keep an open mind about these things. Besides, I can’t wait to see the bride to be. She used to live in London, but then she moved to Canada (which I’ll never forgive her for), and she’s getting married in Dubrovnik. It’s all very international and exciting. We’re of course going to this wedding, which just means I’ll work on my launch-my-own-publishing-company in 23 degrees weather and within walking distance from where, ‘Game of Thrones,’ is being filmed. I can already picture myself on the beach, reading about kindle platforms and marketing strategies, while wearing my polka dot bikini and sipping cold drinks. It will be fun and different.
But first the Hen Night. I’ll study on the train, I’ll get some writing done at the hotel, and I’ll be sure to bring my notebook with me. It’s all about being prepared and careful planning.
I like making plans. Every night I write down the five most important tasks for the following day. It’s a nice ritual, and it grounds me when my mind is spinning in circles trying to figure out everything at once. By making the list the night before, my subconscious can mull it over when I sleep, and when I wake up I know exactly what to do.
Last night I dreamt that everyone I knew gave me a lion. That was a great dream. When I woke up I walked into the kitchen were our two cats eyed me hungrily, all sleepy and purring, and I thought to myself, ‘Look at these cute little mini-lions. How lucky am I?’
It’s all about the mane
Ever since I decided that my publishing company should be called, Lion’s Mane Publishing, I’ve noticed that my hair looks different. Different how? It’s a bit higher. Some would say it has more volume, and they would be right. My hair is starting to look like a mane.
You have to trust me when I say that changing my hair has not been a conscious decision on my part. I really don’t know what’s going on. I just find myself in front of the mirror, combing up the hair and swishing it around. Maybe it’s part of the morphing process.Or maybe it’s a result of being sleep-deprived. I wake up at 3 am every morning. I’m jet-lagged. Like I’ve been to Australia and back. Maybe voluminous hair prevents me from falling asleep, like some soft sleep-repellent shield around my face. I’m a Leo, astrologically speaking, so maybe I’ve always meant to have big hair. Now I’m just making things up. I need more coffee. I need an assistant that can bring me endless cups of tea and coffee.
Yesterday I went through my closet and got rid of all my clothes that don’t say, ‘Director of an indie publishing company.’ Not that I know what such a person would look like, but I feel that he or she would look cool. She would look relaxed, but with an edge. She would look mature, but not in an intimidating way. Think Lorelai Gilmore meets Juliette Binoche, and they adopt a girl who looks like Jackie Kennedy in her Viking Press years. Something like that. This person would never wear my grey jersey top, for instance (too boring), or any of my old Embassy clothes (too formal). Bye bye!
In addition to de-cluttering my wardrobe, I’m de-cluttering my life. I’m clearing the decks, so to speak. No more book-club, no more volunteering at the local charity shop, no more sleeping in, no more diddling about. I don’t want any distractions. I’ve kept on writing though. The business does not interfere with the writing, and the writing does not interfere with the business. In fact, they seem to compliment each other. I hoped that would be the case.
In any case, these are exiting times, and I’m really touched and grateful for all your wonderful comments and good wishes. Thank you so much! It means a lot to me. xxx
PS: Why didn’t I have any lion cub friends crowing up?
I’m launching my own publishing company. The idea came to me a few days after the nightmarish class on, ‘How to get published,’ which in all fairness should have been titled: How to feel insignificant and small. After all, you’re not Zadie Smith.
When it comes to getting published, I thought I only had two options. a) find and agent/publisher b) self-publish. It never occurred to me to start my own publishing company. But after the idea popped into my head, and after a day of frantic research, I realized that it’s not only possible, it’s also something I really want to do.
So I’m doing it. So far I’ve done the easy bits: registered the company name and bought the domain name. Lion’s Mane Publishing. The name just came to me, and fortunately (I’ve checked) it doesn’t mean anything nasty or incriminating. The only other things called Lion’s Mane are a mushroom and a jelly-fish.
What I’ve come to realize is that there is this huge discrepancy between writing and reading, which are some of the most rewarding things you can do with your life, and trying to get your work published, which feels like entering Gulag or Dante’s hell. ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’
By launching my own publishing company I want to do everything different. I want to create a welcoming, supportive and creative atmosphere, and I want to publish books I’m interested in. Books on climate change, green living, eco-fashion, sustainable solutions, basically climate non-fiction, which is perfect since Margaret Atwood just coined the expression, ‘Cli-Fi.’ Meaning, climate fiction. I’m also interested in memoirs, original ideas, fun and eye-opening stories, in other words: anything that would make a brilliant Ted Talk.
Life is short. There are books to be written and published. There are authors to meet and communities to create. It’s time.
So where to begin? By taking it one step at a time. Last year my husband founded, ‘Rogue State Media,’ a drone filming company. He recognizes my urge to get everything up and running right away, but he also knows that there is only so much you can accomplish in one day. My to-do list is growing as we speak, but I try to stay level-headed and just focus on the next five steps. Like this blog post, and creating a twitter account, and learning about recycled printing paper, and setting up a an Amazon author account, and…….
When I worked as a private secretary, I had to stay focused in the moment while thinking ahead. That skill is coming in handy. In fact, as I’m finding out, everything I’ve ever learned is coming in handy. Like working at a small publishing house in California, like running the business with my husband, like the seminar on online writing, trusting my intuition, and even speed-reading. I have a tall stack of business books to read through, so thank you JFK for introducing me to speed reading.
It’s early days, but things are unfolding at a remarkable speed. This is a new chapter for sure. Just imagine. On June 13th, 2013, I wrote my first blog-post on this blog. It read:This is not my first day of wanting to be a writer, but it marks the day were I draw a line in the sand between wishing to be a writer and actually doing something about it.
Almost two years later my book is this close from being done, and this morning I received this email, ‘Congratulations. Your company LIONS MANE PUBLISHING LIMITED is now incorporated.’
I’d better get going, but first a celebratory latte. Cheers!
This is what I took away from the master class on how to get published last Friday: agents are pompous snobs.
Correction: the agents at this class were pompous snobs. ‘Well, the truth is, most people can’t write,’ one said in a lofty tone. The other one said, ‘And to be honest, I’m very, very busy with my already existent clients, so I don’t have much time to read from the slush-pile.’ However, they wanted to ensure us that if the writing was good, then of course they would take us on as clients.
Someone asked about taste, as in: aren’t agents just as subjective as the rest of us? How much of the decision making comes down to personal taste? ‘None,’ they said. We are professional people and know good writing when we see it,’ they said.
I raised my hand and asked how much of the decision making is colored by trends and what they think will sell. ‘We know what will sell, ‘ one said. ‘There is no guesswork here. We can predict trends six, twelve months into the future, we know the market in ways that you don’t.’
I wanted to tear my hear out, but instead I finished my allotted glass of wine. I think it was Margaret Atwood who said that there are four types of books. Good ones that get published, bad ones that get published, good ones that will never get published, and bad ones that will never get published. That seems more realistic to me. I also recently met an author who said it’s all about who you know. He didn’t get published until he had a contact on ‘the inside.’ And let’s not forget all those amazing authors that got rejected time and time again, until one small publishing decided to take them on. (Read about them here. )
The point I’m trying to make is this: agents are humans too. I once read this article about a this agent who said, ‘Listen, my rejection letter is not a reflection on your writing. Maybe I just had a bad day. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe the book wasn’t for me. But please don’t give up, keep sending your work out there.’ I wish this agent had been part of the class. We were told, in so many words, that if it isn’t Shakespeare, we’re not interested. Which is ridiculous, because most readers don’t even read Shakespeare. And it’s like saying that if you’re not Leonardo da Vinci, put down your paintbrush. If you’re not Ottolenghi, but down the baking tray, if you’re not Coco Chanel, step away from the sewing machine.
Fair enough. Statistically speaking, only one out of a thousand manuscripts gets accepted. The competition is real and daunting. I get it. But what I don’t get is this weird attitude of ‘we’re almighty and omniscient.’
I guess I’m just frustrated because there is so much conflicting information floating around. Some agents are hell-bent on authors being super present on social media. Some says it doesn’t matter one bit. Some say, ‘we’re not interested in you, just your book,’ while some say, ‘it helps if you have an interesting personality and have done a lot of interesting things.’ Can’t we just agree that when it comes to books, it’s not as easy as 2+2=4?
On a positive note, I did learn how to write a cover letter. That will be useful. But after I told my friend about this class she said, ‘Man! Self-publishing is looking very attractive right now.’
Master Class Time!
Please arrive just a little before 18.30 so we can check you in and provide you with a glass of wine. I’m attending a getting published master class in London today. We’re starting off with a glass of wine (thank you!) and then we’ll hear from a best selling author on ‘Everything you need to know about how to find agents, how to approach them, and how to write a compelling synopsis and covering letter.’
I need this. When I started out, I never thought about what to do after the book was finished. I guess I hoped I would just meet an agent, at a party or something, and that would be that. The whole science of snagging the attention of agents, publishing houses and readers, is something I know very little about. So I need help. Hence the master class.
This class comes at a good time. I’m this close to finishing the re-write and editing of my book, I have other projects up my sleeve, and I’m finally ready to send my work ‘out there.’ I had a stab at this last year. Last year I was so thrilled to be done with the first draft that I felt that the universe owed me a book contract. That the book was half-baked and totally weird didn’t bother me. Not at all. I felt it was only right that someone else should take it off my hands and transform it into a beautiful butterfly.
Agent after agent after agent refused me. And rightly so. I was cocky and full of myself, and I knew the book was crap. Surely the recognize potential when they see it! This is what I told myself. I was wrong.
Looking back, I’m glad I went through all that. Moving forward I know what not to do, and with the help of the master class I’ll get some pointer on what to do instead. I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a great weekend:)
Z is for Zapping through the A to Z blogging challenge
I’m done! One post for each letter of the alphabet. Thank you all for your comments, thank you for reading, and thank you for writing. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your posts, I’ve been impressed with how many of you stuck with it day after day, and I’m surprised at the sense of camaraderie I felt with by fellow bloggers. What will Amanda write about today? And Sarah? I wonder what word Al the Author will choose for the letter L? Oh look, a new person!
If this challenge had taken place in Norway, there would have been three more letters to deal with.
The Russian alphabet has 33 letters, the Arabic one has 28, and in China they don’t have an alphabet, but instead over 5000 signs. That would have been an interesting, and time consuming, challenge.
26 letters feels just right. Now we’re done and can move on to other things. Personally I’m going to take a wee blogging break, but I’ll see you all when I get back.