I have been working on a draft of my first book for over two years, and I was able to finally birth the majority of it during my 3 month maternity leave earlier this year.
I now have a 50,000 word draft that holds my heart and soul within its pages. Some of the words poured out of me, I couldn't have stopped them if I'd tried. Others I had to drag begrudgingly from the depths of my being. Writing this book stirred up so many emotions in me - I would just sit and weep as I remembered anew certain stories from my past and as I attempted to weave together all of the struggle and frustration and joy and sadness and pain and love that had been buried deep within me for so long. It was like therapy that I didn't even know I needed.
After I had somewhat recovered from the strenuous act of writing the book, I soon realized I have no idea what to do next in terms of getting this thing published.
Which is why I decided to go to Tribe Conference again this year. Tribe Conference is a weekend conference for writers, artists and other creative entrepreneurs hosted by Jeff Goins in Franklin, TN. I have been the past two years and it has become one of my favorite events of the year. I was hesitant to go because I didn't know if I would be ready to leave my 6 month old bundle of joy for an entire weekend. But I have the most amazing husband in the world who offered to come with me and do "guy stuff" with the baby during the day so that I could spend the evenings with my family. It was perfect.
So I arrived in Franklin with one goal in my heart: I would try to meet others who could teach me about the process of publishing a book and I would try to learn what options I had for moving forward with my first draft manuscript.
There's just one itty bitty, tiny, little problem: I'm an extreme introvert. But I promised myself I would do this no matter what. And also, facing fear is what the book is about, so I can't exactly back out now! So I did it afraid, just like I do most of the really important things in my life. I had to give myself a pep talk each day before walking into the conference. I told myself: "Self: you are here for a reason. You belong here. You are right where you're supposed to be, so just relax and let things happen. Don't try too hard, just allow yourself to be fully in the moment, and engage with the person in front of you. Be kind, be open, be generous, be interested in others. You don't have to be the life of the party... just focus on making ONE meaningful connection."
Just make one meaningful connection.
Within a few hours of arriving at the conference, I met Christine and Ash.
Christine has just recently gone through the process of publishing her first book. It's called Beyond the Music Lesson: Habits of Successful Suzuki Families and she also blogs at www.suzukitriangle.com about teaching the Suzuki Method of violin to children. She generously told me a little bit of her story and the process she went through with her book. She explained how the editing process worked for her, and she even gave me the name of her editor, whom I have since connected and shared my story with.
Ash and I quickly discovered that we had both done the same online business course at the same time back in 2014. I've been meaning to brush the dust off of those materials and dig in again and meeting Ash gave me the inspiration that I needed to do that. Ash has an amazing business called Attitude of Wellness where she teaches natural and wholistic health practices.
Well, that was easy. Only two hours in and I'd already made two meaningful connections. Mission accomplished! But the story doesn't end there.
The next day I had lunch with an ENTIRE GROUP of ladies who are actively doing the same thing as me: writing a memoir, specifically, because they have a story to tell and they simply can't keep it inside any longer. Some of them were much further along in the process than me, but we were all there to support and encourage one another. We're even forming a Facebook group so that we can stay in touch and hold each other accountable for the long term. I am pretty excited about it.
Later that day, Leo Babauta founder of Zen Habits wrapped up the day's events. At the end of his talk, he asked us to get up and walk around the room as they played loud upbeat music over the speakers. When the music stopped, he asked us to turn to the person nearest us - musical chairs style - and put our hands on each others shoulders. He then asked us to look deeply into one another's eyes and just hold each other's gaze.
Ok Leo, this is really awkward but I'll play your silly game!
We went through this excruciating exercise three times. On the second go-round, I found myself gazing intently into the eyes of a man named Chad. After what seemed like forever but was probably only a few awkward moments, Leo asked us to take turns sharing with each other what we most wanted to bring forth in our work and our lives.
As I tried to formulate an answer in my mind about how I wanted to share my personal stories with the world through my book in the hopes of helping others overcome fear and self-doubt in their lives, Chad said:
"I'll go first. I most want to help writers get their books into the world."
Ummm. Are you serious?
I was so shocked by his answer that without thinking I blurted out "And I most want to get my book into the world!"
We quickly parted ways for the third round of this exercise, and we didn't connect for the rest of the weekend. But I couldn't shake this odd experience. I reached out to him after the conference and we have since connected and learned a little more about each other. Chad works for a publisher in Michigan. He also has an amazing blog and consulting business where he helps writers get their books into the world, just like he said. You can find him at www.chadrallen.com. I look forward to getting to know Chad more and who knows, maybe even working together someday.
I also met many other amazing people during the weekend, such as Laura who is in Jeff's Tribe Writers course and was a wealth of information on things I can do to begin the editing and revision process. She's also quite possibly the sweetest lady ever.
And Deb, who is a songwriter, life coach and writer. Her stuff is amazing, you can find her at Your One Beautiful Life.
And, maybe best of all, I had the opportunity to catch up and reconnect with old friends that I've met over the past several years of attending Tribe Conference.
These are the kinds of things that happen at Tribe Conference.
These are the kinds of connections that you can make if you're willing to put yourself out there, if you're willing to let things get a little awkward.
And I'm not sure if you noticed or not, but everything that I mentioned here happened on the sidelines of the conference. I could write another post entirely on the amazing speakers and the wisdom that they shared, but the speakers are just one aspect of the magic that happens at Tribe Conference.
The rest is COMMUNITY.
Till next time,