Authenticity is the journey of figuring out who you are through what you make. - Don Glover
There's a conversation that's been going on in my brain for many years now. My soul feels deeply compelled to this joyful place, a place that has language and information about connecting to Spirit, Source, God, Genius, Truth. However you frame it, I see it as Yellow Light. Far, but not too far off the left, waiting for me to make my way to it.
And I don't just feel it for me, but for all people who long to connect with their own Yellow Light. Who HAVE felt it coursing through them as they wrote or painted or invented. I have felt it course through me, and I have felt it elude me. When it courses, all is right with my soul. All my existential anxiety melts away. The rest of the time, which is most of the time for the past 10 to 15 years, it stays just out of reach.
So the conversation goes something like this:
-can i intentionally line up with my genius? or is it more of a fluke?
-it seems intentionally possible to do. which would mean i am the one getting in my own way.
-what does it mean to get out of my own way? how do i write without consciousness of the self?
-i'll read every book i can get my hands on about it. it does seem there is an esoteric aspect to this process. and like most esoteric aspects, we really can't teach other people how to have these experiences.
-ok, i have a lot of moments almost lining up, but something does get in the way.
-also remember those times you did line up but then the writing wasn't really that good
-so what does it actually mean to reach your genius?
-why do i feel so unexpressed? is this just a matter of not having the talent or confidence or bravery to do what is possible?
-is this about an overdeveloped ego? too strong a sense of what is right or wrong in writing?
-the ruts of collective thought and banal language getting deeper and deeper groves in the mud so that I can barely get my wagon wheels out of them. Only getting worse as I age.
-am i just meant to hold this longing my whole life?
-does this longing mean I am meant to cross this bridge?
-does it mean I am meant to do that and help others cross it?
-or does it just mean that i have some inability to let go of this long-cherished dream?
-and why, after a pretty auspicious start as a writer, does every version of my novel seem to be worse and worse.
-it is because of the internet? TV? because it stopped reading smart books and started reading spiritual self-help and urban fantasy at some point?
-why don't I have any friends to help me through this? why do i have to figure it out on my own? why am i so alone in this constant longing? why does nothing fix it?
-is it because I'm an editor and my critic is still running the show when i write?
-is there a wild part of me that i can really become more of?
-how can i possibly be wild when every toe i step on or criticism i get knocks me out fully. like existential death.
-how can i be who I am meant to be?
-is this who i am meant to be?
Why is it that so many people feel the pull of a great idea but struggled to bring it into the world? Specifically in writing. Why do so many people find they have a part of them that is a veritable genius with expansive, great art to share, but it is always blocked in some way, shape, or form? At first this seems like a snag, and then the years start to pass and it becomes harder instead of easier. In fact, the harder you try, the more it eludes you.
I'm not kidding, I think about this all the time.
I have taught classes on finding your writing voice, on a spiritual approach to marketing books, on using intuitive tools to find the taproot of what you really mean to say.
And all the while I've been editing books. I've been paid by many, many writers to tell them what they are doing wrong, and how to make it better.
I'm not going to lie: I don't know how to reconcile the two. Except through one method: manuscript analysis.
An analysis allows me to read what a writer is working on, feel into its purposes and the writer's vision. Then I go back and ask the writer questions to further understand their feelings, intention, and thinking processes. I am listening for the heart, for what they really want to say. Usually it's there in the manuscript already, in clues, or in subtext.
See, the thing is, ideas comes from a place beyond words. Ideas exist fully formed, and it is up to us to be a conduit between those ideas and the physical world. But we get in the way. For writers, language makes this possible, and also creates limitations. We feel into a place of seeing, knowing, feeling, and then have to use these little units of meaning to express it. And then even if we get a sentence or even just a phrase that comes through whole and pure, the ruts of language quickly make themselves known. It is much easier to write and think the way everyone else writes and thinks, even though it leads your own creation astray. Even though you end up back where you started. Or even worse, back where you started with even more self-doubt and frustration associated with the creative process.
Often, by the time I work with a writer, they've already been through the gauntlet getting their book written all the way through. Editors are expensive, and people tend to not come to me until they absolutely feel they can't take the next step on their own.
Sometimes writers come to me for coaching. This happens when they are still in the creative process and can't figure out how to finish their book, or even start it. In over ten years of editing and coaching, I have yet to see a single writer who came to me for coaching actually finish a manuscript. Why? Because if you are still in that very vulnerable and important gestation period, and you bring someone else in, you've already moved your center of power outside yourself. You've disconnected from the weird, wild, utterly trustworthy space of your own imagination. It's hard to go forward from there.
So why did I coach?
Because it seems like the most important thing in the world to me that people connect with their creative genius. And yet, let's put it this way. I, myself, have received immense 'coaching'. I studied creative writing as an undergraduate and in grad school. I've read every book on writing, from the practical to the philosophical to the spiritual. Nothing has helped ME overcome the writers block I have experienced in excruciating amounts for over a decade now. Yes, since I became a professional editor.
If I could figure out a perfect tool, spiritual technology, mental device to connect writers with their native genius, I would. But all the brilliant-seeming advice out there hasn't yet helped me. So what could I do to help others?
All I know at this point, half-way through my career as an editor, is that I can do this: I can feel into what has already been written. Into what really wants to be there, what needs to be there, and what showed up because the connection got lost between writer and their genius. That's all I can do. If I am talking with you about ideas still floating around in your mind then you are NOT connecting to those ideas, you are connecting to me. So this is it:
I am not longer offering coaching, per se. And I am no longer offering line editing. I am only offering manuscript analysis, which will combine more in-depth discussion with the writer as it helps me and them get clear about what is really there. This is a process that uses language but is anchored in intuition. More me, it's empathic intuition and a 'knowing'. Because I've been doing this for over 20 years in one form or another, I can make it sound like logic or common sense, but I am frankly tired of pretending that art doesn't speak to us all: creator, teacher/guide/editor, and audience, through the language of emotion.
There are many ways to make a manuscript stronger: make a story more compelling, make a memoir like like a story, make nonfiction more like a memoir. But it always has to do with first feeling what moves and engages me as a reader, what doesn't, and figuring how and why that is happening. For some reason, I am good at this. It's a type of seeing, a type of knowing. And then I have to explain it in ways that sound credible and that give the writer tangible guidelines, understandable strategies, and logical reasoning.
So I am no longer offering coaching or line editing. I am offering only manuscript analysis. I would like to come up with a new name for it. I would really like to make it more my own.
As for self-publishing services, I would really like to NOT do that anymore.