Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Tango with Time

In my younger years, I would often hear my mother or some other adult over fifty years of age remarking how strange it is to grow old—when the mind still feels so youthful but the body begins to change…or when the songs, films, artists, and styles of your era become “vintage.” I tried to imagine what it must have felt like for her, but because that time of life was so far off for me it wasn’t easy. I don’t think anyone can truly understand nostalgia until they are old enough to live it.

Now I am suddenly there. The music and styles of my teen years and even my twenties are now considered classic. It’s as far back in the past for kids as forties and swing was for me when I was the kid. I am one of the “old aunts” that sits with the other aunts and uncles at family reunions while the kids run and play. I look in the mirror and see both a face and a body that is vastly different from what it was even seven years ago due to time and gravity having its way with me.

When one of my sisters was scanning a bunch of photos from our family albums for me a couple of years ago, she wrote in an email that it was such a surreal feeling looking back at all the pictures from all the decades and realizing just how much time had passed. “So much life lived,” were her exact words.

A common human tendency is to react to this passing of time with a certain wistfulness and longing to have some of it back—especially one’s younger and more able body. There is a sense that time is accelerating and running out. That there won’t be many more opportunities to do certain things. Bucket lists are reviewed. Long lost friends are sought out to connect with. There is still so much uncertainty about the future. What will the state of the world be as I grow old? Have I planned well enough to have financial security? Who will I survive in my family and social circles? How much longer will certain family and friends be around? Will I get to grow old with my partner?

I’ve contemplated this a lot lately—sometimes during seated meditation (yes, meditation is supposed to be an emptying of the mind, however, certain awarenesses come up as well)—and I have thought of a wonderful analogy. It involves some backstory about Tango.

I am midway through my second year of learning Argentine Tango, and it’s the year in which my teacher is showing us the nuances, refinements, and embellishments of this exquisite and graceful dance. One of the refinements is taking one’s time. Even if the tempo of a song is fast, a leader and partner can always negotiate doing it in half time, or pausing for an embellishment that isn’t necessarily on the beat…before moving on in the line of dance. If a leader is going a little too fast, the follower can always subtly apply a little more resistance in her posture to slow him down. A leader may have big plans for steps he (or she) would like to lead, but spacing on the dance floor suddenly changes and so he has to adjust those plans for the space he has to work with. Instead, a leader may offer his partner a chance to do something inventive and lovely, or lead a turn—beautifully biding the time until he can move his follower forward again.

This is how time is, now. It may seemingly be going by so quickly, but I can always lean in to slow it down, pause to add embellishment, adjust my steps to meet the unexpected with grace, and continue on in the line of dance until the music stops. In Tango, you are committed to your partner for four short songs, and these are called a tanda. If all is going well, you really savor that last song before the tanda is over. You let yourself become the music and move with a timelessness in which there is only the connection between you and your partner in the moment.

In the last decade, I have moved from being constantly driven to meet goals and timelines and making lots of plans to slowing the pace, seeing what wonderful thing might be “led” to me, offering me a chance to create and shine, and staying connected with the present. "Above all else," my Tango teacher always reminds us, “maintain a good connection.”

So instead of feeling uneasy about time and its changes, I have decided to dance with it. I cabeceo, let it lead me onto the dance floor, wrap myself in its close embrace, try to move with as much grace as possible, flow with the line of dance, and maintain connection until the tanda is over.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Staying Grounded

I feel compelled to write a special post for those who are part of the movement to preserve human rights, Mother Earth, Freedom of Speech, transparent politicking and a great many other things in these uncertain times.

Many of you, like me, have never considered yourselves "political" or took part in any activism before. It seems, though, that these critical times where rogue, dangerous ways have been allowed to become new norms have served as a great catalyst for more people speaking up--and for more unification than ever. Not just within a political group, but people worldwide.

For those who are working toward this unity...I salute you. We have a long way to go and much work to do. This isn't just a brief sprint--but a marathon.

I know that it can be exhausting. Alarming changes and executive orders seem to be popping up left and right, and calling senators and representatives about them feels like an endless game of Whac-a-Mole. 

This is why I feel I need to offer a mindful and compassionate word of caution.

If social media and other news becomes overwhelming and disheartening, causing feelings of extreme anger, hostility, hatred, despair, or hopelessness....step away. Take a respite. Go pet the cat/dog, spend an afternoon of quality time with loved ones, watch a TV show or movie that makes you laugh (laughter creates endorphins), work out or take a long, long walk (energy moving in the body alleviates stress), or--one of the most important remedies of all--spend a long, quiet time out in nature.

These things all contribute to grounding one's self...escaping the head-chatter, being fully present in the body, and rejuvenating every part of yourself in order to move forward (and take action) effectively.

From this grounded place of consciousness, presence, and unified compassion...one can achieve the greatest results. This I know from looking back at the actions of some of the greatest leaders of world peace.

May we, as fellow humans, continue on a path toward our highest good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Passive Rebellion

It’s been well over a year since I’ve posted in here and a lot of life has happened. I’m spending so much time in present moment awareness that I rarely take the time to reflect in writing these days.

I won’t lie. The last month has been brutal with the passing of my beautiful cat, Ceili…and a few medical events that have spurred my elderly mother’s decline. But even before those things happened, I found myself in a challenging place mentally and spiritually.

I was fed up. More fed up than I’ve ever been in my life. After countless years of exploring all the useful and marvelous tools provided by teachers, authors, indigenous cultures, modern psychology, self-help, and all walks of spirituality…after healing all the broken parts of myself, learning to love myself and others unconditionally, getting down to the deepest core, elevating myself to the highest realms, learning to let go and be mindful and present...and STILL not seeing certain lifelong dreams coming to fruition (and I’m talking ones I’ve waited years and years for—ever so patiently)…I suddenly found myself revisiting an old impatience and hopelessness I hadn't felt in a long and blessed time. I suppose it's because I trusted that things would happen when they were meant to happen, and then suddenly eleven years went by and they still hadn’t happened. That is a damn long time and chunk of life.

I still had the spiritual tools. All organized nicely in my spiritual tool box. But I simply didn’t feel like using them. I felt that they’d let me down. I was tired of being blamed for causing the blockages and not "allowing" things to come into my life. Sick and tired. I felt like just rebelling against everything…but in a passive way. I was suddenly reminded of this picture that I took of my niece in 1986, in the middle of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.

I remember that we had dragged her all over the place that day, and she was getting weary. It seems to me there might have been some little thing that she humbly (because that’s how she was and still is) requested and wasn’t getting, or maybe she just wanted to be done with touristy things for the day…but her solution was to simply lie down on the floor and refuse to do anything.

I thought about how very much I could relate to her in that moment. Feeling stubborn about getting up, brushing myself off, and moving on--because I wasn't getting what I humbly requested. Rejecting the "balloon flower" consolation prizes of life. Feeling weary from the journey. Just wanting to lie there and do nothing for a while in passive rebellion.

One thing I’ve learned about “down periods” is that it’s critical to validate all feelings and not judge them. If a child that I'm particularly fond of came up to me upset and frustrated, I would treat that child with great empathy by acknowledging her feelings and reassuring her that everything will be okay. And even if she didn’t seem at all convinced, I would still be kind and patient with her. So it should be with that inner part of myself that is having huge feelings.

Mine was definitely throwing a passive rebellion on Ghirardelli Square for a good month or two. But I acknowledged the feelings—yes, I see that you’re more frustrated and weary of this than you’ve ever been, and it’s okay. No judgment. No trying to nudge and force it to stop. Maybe doing nothing is just what I needed in order to move forward. Everything passes, eventually.

And as I waited to be ready to stand up again and keeping moving, I continued a daily practice of showing up, staying as present as I could to what was happening in each moment, witnessing--not identifying with--the “story” in my head about why I should be fed up, and therefore making all changes and improvements from a place of grounded Presence and not from a negative, hopeless place of lack.

Today, I feel I’ve weathered another storm. I’ve stood up, brushed myself off, picked my trusty spiritual toolbox back up again, and walked on. Non-metaphorically speaking, I’ve reached out to people I greatly trust and they have given me even more tools. But best of all…I am once again able to gently release thoughts that creep in and cause suffering, and to make way for the peace that is always there to move through me.

I am up off the floor and back on the trolley.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Surprise Me!

I dedicate this blog entry to my friend John, whose unique habit at brewpubs inspired it.

When a server asks John which beer he'd like, he quite often tells them, "Surprise me!"

Most of the servers are delighted, eager to bring him one of their personal favorites...others just give him a "what, are you kidding me?" kind of stare before relenting and walking away a little freaked out.

But I've always loved his willingness to relinquish control and let fate surprise him, confident that whatever comes will be good and satisfying.

This is what I've done lately, with the Universe. Because certain dreams and goals I've had for years now have yet to come to fruition, I can only deduce that they're not happening for a reason. After all this time, rather than adopt a defeatist attitude about it, I keep on trusting that things happen in a divine right order. Either the things I feel I want and need---or something better.

In the meantime, one way to deal with things not happening on my schedule (or at all) is to reach into my spiritual toolbox for the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, and his lessons of living more and more fully in the now. He likens it to looking at an unfurled scroll. You can look to the left (at your past) and dwell on regret over things not done, not received, done wrong, or even things that were wonderful, but drifted away with time and you miss them. You can look to your right (your future) with doubt and uncertainty about how things might happen, or will they ever happen, etc. But to look right in the middle of the scroll--at what's happening right in front of us--is the most peaceful and powerful place to put our attention.

So for a good deal of 2015 I have set my dreams down for a moment, including getting all excited about the possibility of them--which often leads to fearing that it's all wishful thinking and they still won't happen no matter what I do and try--and I just told the Universe to "surprise me."

So far, what came to me was a thrifty plan to get my finances in a more tidy and secure place. So I've started taking steps in that plan. I've also been invited into a new social circle where I've met the most wonderful people...and I felt inspired to sign up for a few new meetups that are more closely aligned with the way I'd like to be spending my time. I figure I will meet more like-minded people in those circles than ever before.

There are more wonderful "surprises" that have come my way...and so I'm liking this new plan of simply letting go of specific dreams and just focusing on NOW. Because suddenly I'm finding that my "NOW" is becoming more significant than ever. And I'm feeling really good and peaceful inside.

One day at a time, of course.

I will end with this quote that was passed to me tonight, that really resonated with me:

"Acceptance means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do, and so I do it willingly." 

~ Eckhart Tolle

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Introspection at Winter Solstice

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can

~Pink Floyd

When the daylight hours are at their shortest just before the winter solstice, staying home is so underrated.

All week friends and coworkers have been baffled by how tired they are, despite the amount of sleep they’ve had. Some even acted as though the fault was somehow their own. I reminded them that we’re coming up on the shortest day of the year, and that we should be hibernating. We are mammals, after all. And a good deal of mammals are laying low this time of year, staying warm and cozy in their nests/caves, and sleeping a LOT.

In the week before solstice, I always give myself permission to hibernate. This means staying home after work where it’s warm and quiet, rather than venturing out into the cold and dark. Permission to give my body the rest it’s inherently calling for. To be still, and to reflect.

I’ve done this for quite a few years, ever since I ran with a New Agey crowd in the 90s and learned what a sacred time the solstice was in many ancient cultures. I learned how to observe it as reverently as people do religious holidays. Native Americans, in particular, taught me to use this time to “go inward,” sitting in quiet introspection of the self—as a sort of inner renewal before the return of the light…leading toward springtime and new beginnings.

I remember when the song “Long December” came out (by Counting Crows), I marveled at how its slow tempo, its lyrics, and the contemplative inflection of Adam Duritz’s voice seemed to embody the feel of this. Especially this verse:

Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her

At this year’s solstice, my introspection has me contemplating the meaning of home.

For the first time since 2010, I will be able to go “home for the holidays.” Except there is no home anymore. This past spring, my mother was moved into assisted living and the house was slowly emptied and finally sold. There will be no more gathering around the living room talking and laughing as one family unit. No playing of the antique parlor grand Steinway and singing carols in three part harmonies. No sitting around the dining room table with all three table leaves put in, and no grandkids sledding down the hill in the big one-acre backyard.

My “home” is no longer a physical place, but a memory. It is now only a hometown, a region where I connect with friends and family.

In my life, Christmas has always been about family getting together. Talking, catching up, laughing, singing and jamming, and LOTS of eating. And sadly, there hasn’t been a Christmas like that (with everyone all together) in years. Many of my siblings felt they had reached a time of life where they needed to stay put in their own homes and host their own children and grandchildren. They would pay the bigger family (and our mother) visits just after Christmas, or just before…but they needed Christmas Day for their own immediate families.

This year when I am home for the holidays, it will be very different, but wonderful nonetheless. We have our 92-year-old mother talked into traveling an hour from southwest Ohio to Northern Kentucky where I and three of my sisters (and their families) will have Christmas together with her for the first time in a long time. And there will be talking, catching up, singing, and lots of eating. Even if it's not everyone.

This holiday visit, I will be savoring my mother like never before (my gut tells me this might be her last Christmas—but that’s another story for another time), no matter where we celebrate or where “home” is.

For me, a truer definition of home is where a family is. Even if the family is made up of just two people. In that respect, I am still working toward creating a home of my own. For the last ten years, I have been flitting back and forth from east to west to east and now northwest – and I feel it’s time to be still and grow roots. To find that family. To build a new home.

As I look forward to a new year, I’d like to end with this quote by Stephen Levine. I know he was talking about death, but I think it can apply to the “unknown” of the future.

"How do we allow ourselves to come into the unknown with an open heartedness and courage that allows life its fullness?"

~Stephen Levine
I know the answer to this question is the rigorous practice of maintaining a present-moment awareness. Spending as much time out of my head (dwelling on past or future) and in the now. Feeling the connection to all other beings and to what is going on right in front of me.

Fullness of life. I believe I have my focus phrase for 2015.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

A 12-Year Unfolding Part II - The Wait is Over

In the fall of 2011, I loaded up the cat and some meager belongings and drove west again—this time, making Oregon my new home.

The first few months were rocky, to say the least, hunting for jobs and trying to get on my feet. There was little time and no money to move forward with Just Wait or even my new novel-in-progress.

In between temp jobs and permanent jobs (working way too many hours) and moving to different dwellings, I continued to polish the manuscript and update my main character so that she exhibited the behavior and sensibilities of a 30 year-old in 2013 instead of 1999.

I called up my niece (who paints the most incredible portraits) and asked her if she had time—in her busy schedule of being an ICU nurse and a mom—to paint the image I had in mind for my book cover. She not only had time, but she insisted on doing it for free.


In late summer, 2013, I finally landed my ideal writing/editing job. With a steady income again, I was able to formulate an earnest publishing plan for Just Wait.

That was when providence took over and doors began to fly open.

First, I discovered the Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). I went to their monthly meeting and it felt like I’d hit the jackpot in a casino. Here were all these creative, experienced, helpful and marketing-savvy writers who were also making a go of independent publishing. They offered a wealth of advice about presses, the success of eBooks, what sort of cover gets you the most readers and how to best market yourself. Being a member of this association meant getting lots of help doing book events, author readings and trade shows—as a recognized group. They even developed a seal you could be awarded for your book—based on a rubric of criteria and a panel of third party reviewers—to let readers know that your book is bookstore-quality. I had found my people. Now I would no longer have to go it alone in the most difficult phase of the writing industry – the business phase.

NIWA also alerted me to the fact that Amazon’s CreateSpace was a publishing source that was free if you did your own book interior and cover. No expensive setup fees like the other publisher I’d used. Free was exactly what I needed at that point, still getting back on my feet from a summer of unemployment.


On the marketing side of things, the big inspiration that came to me for my official book launch was a YouTube video that would hopefully get passed around to friends of friends of friends, and also by people who visited my author page on Facebook. In the video, I would feature people talking about something they are still waiting for in life. And what better song to use in the video than “Waiting” by the Irish group The Devlins (first heard on RP). So I sent an email to their website and the next day I got a reply back from Colin Devlin himself giving me sync permission. He wrote, “I’m assuming this is self-published, right? I wish you all the best with your project!”

Oh my Got!!!

With the city of Portland as my setting (a city very much in the limelight due to several TV shows filmed there), I interviewed random people, friends and acquaintances of all ages for a wide variety of responses. I made a big sign saying: “Want to be in a PDX YouTube video about waiting?” and planted myself by a fountain at the Saturday Market by the river. Thus far, I’d only been able to interview people over 35, when my target audience was supposed to be younger, unmarried people who were still looking for their niche in life. As I sat there watching people pass by, I silently said to the universe, “Universe, send me a group of young men in their early 20s, who are globally-minded and cultural like my nephew Paul and his friends. Maybe they’ll even have skateboards.” Within the next 15 minutes, three young men in their early 20s (two with skateboards, one with bongos) happened by and wanted to know more about the video. One of them even looked like my nephew’s friend! Two of them did an interview.


After a long and enjoyable afternoon talking to people, I packed up my stuff and headed for Pioneer Square. I was getting hungry and a little chilled (I had a sore throat and cold coming on, but decided to venture out anyway), so I decided to give it about 20 minutes before heading for home. I told the universe, “Universe, I still need young women in this video. My main character is a 29-year-old woman—so I really need someone like her in this video more than anyone else.” Three young women had been meandering around taking pictures with their youngish looking mother. I lost track of them just before deciding to call it a day. Then as I stood gathering my things, the group of girls and their mom came up to me out of nowhere. “What’s this all about?” the mom asked with a smile. When I told them, two of the girls decided to interview—at their mother’s urging!


So the video came together beautifully. I even got one of my nieces, who was nine months pregnant at the time, to send a photo of herself (when she is normally an introverted, anti-spotlight kind of girl) so that I could show someone waiting for a baby to come.


Around this time, my niece had finally completed her painting and sent me an image of the finished product. Immediately, there were ob-stackles (ever since seeing O Brother Where Art Thou, I can’t pronounce the word any other way). The painting was square and needed to fill a 6 x 9 cover. Also, the best-resolution original was shot at an angle that was presenting problems. Fortunately for me, I have lots of Photoshop-savvy friends and acquaintances. One of them, a mega-talented photographer, knew how to fix the problem and graciously offered to help. He not only corrected the angle, but he created a reflection at the bottom that extended the art to fit specs.


Then the long and tedious final leg of the journey was upon me. The final proofing. I was still finding klunky parts. I was still finding extra spaces and indents. There were still ways to make certain scenes flow better. And to top it all off, my sister in Hawaii—who offered her “second pair of eyes” for final proofing and beta reading—brought up something that was going to be very time consuming. Commas. These days, writers are taking liberties. They are no longer adhering to the very precise and old-school methods of comma usage for various phrases. They are leaving several out, probably much to the horror of grammar Nazis. She told me my precise usage was creating a very stilted, disruptive flow in my manuscript.


So I spent the week before and during Thanksgiving going through the manuscript with an even finer-toothed comb, making sure my comma removals worked and sounded okay. Hell, if Cormack McCarthy can write dialogue with no quotation marks, then surely I could get away with removing a few commas.

Finally, there was one more ob-stackle to clear. I had planned on using one of CreateSpace’s back cover templates, but none looked very professional. In fact, they were CRAP. Once again, I desperately needed the services of a designer. Another online friend came to my rescue in the 11th hour!


And then…..

After twelve years, myriads of edits, countless bleary-eyed late nights of proofing to make the Christmas deadline and a dream team of people who brought it all together in the final month (including a niece who expertly put my website back together again)……it was FINALLY go-time.

That’s what I get for titling a book Just Wait. 

And now without further adieu......happy reading!

Available in paperback and eBook:

Cover art by Carolyn Lander, front cover design by Terry Alford and Scott Larsen

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Twelve Year Unfolding – Part I

 When I first saw Alanis Morisette’s music video of “Hands Clean” (2002) I loved its premise of chronicling a hit song from its inception. What inspired it, the writing of it, its studio recording, and its distribution into the world. I thought it would be fun to do the same thing with Just Wait, the novel I’m about to release, because readers are forever asking, “Where did you get the idea for that book?” This particular one has certainly been on a long journey—twelve years, to be exact—that has gotten even more amazing and serendipitous in its final phase.

From the age of nineteen until I was almost 33, I worked as a federal employee in a government facility at an Air Force base. Having started the job at such a young age, I did a lot of my growing up there. My coworkers, who ranged from being four to thirty-four years older than me, taught me professionalism and teamwork. They were a dedicated and hardworking bunch but they also had a playful side. Their quirks and a collective sense of humor left a huge impression on me.

There were inside jokes, office traditions, “office spouses” and people who became lunch buddies. There were also rivalries and the typical agitators who weren’t always the easiest people to be around. Throughout my time in this job, I would often overhear conversations—both in my own branch and in other offices—that were amusing, to say the least. As the years went by, the things I heard and observed inspired little ideas in my head for scenes and scenarios between fictitious characters. If they weren’t actual snippets of funny dialogue that I’d heard, then they were embellishments of them that had been through the spin cycle of my writer's imagination. Sometimes “real life” isn’t all that interesting and you have to make it more outrageous.

When I finally finished college and left my federal job to be a school teacher, I had to pack up all the personal items in my office desk. There in my top drawer was a sizable pile of little pieces of scrap paper and Post-its containing the many accumulated story ideas. I put them in a baggie and took them home, thinking that one day I would turn them into a novel. There was some good stuff in there, but I had to let it simmer for awhile and figure out how to weave it all together into a solid story with a likable main character. A character that had a juicy conflict to resolve.

About that time, I was working on my first “serious” novel. (I say that, because the very first one I wrote in my senior year of high school was a romance novel set in England, inspired by all my New Wave rock star crushes of the era) The novel was a very long and epic story based on the adventurous life of my northern Italian grandparents. As a writer, I had always felt moved to tell their story. It seemed most Italian sagas were mafia-related, and I wanted the world to know there was more to Italian immigrants than Vito Corleone.

Once my novel about my grandparents was complete, I shopped it around to various agents with no nibbles. One agent told me, “Family sagas go in and out of style, so keep trying. If people don’t want it one year, someone else might the next.” And so I put Journey of the Alpine Eagle on the shelf, and got out the baggie of notes.

At that point in my life, I’d finally been through some stuff: feeling stagnated in a meaningless job that wasn’t utilizing all of my skills, switching careers, and suffering my first major breakup. I was over 30 and had hit the snooze button on my biological clock one too many times. Being one of the last in my social circle to marry, I experienced days of literal panic where I wondered if motherhood—a dream I’d looked forward to since I was a child—was in the cards for me after all. I had looked for answers in 12-Step meetings, therapy, yoga class and user-friendly books on Zen Buddhism. At that point, I had some real-life fodder to use for a main character’s struggle with timetables in life. And so Mira Winfield was born.

Mira worked in an office much like mine. Only since mine had been a Top Secret facility and I couldn’t write about what went on there, I instead made it an interior design company. A high school classmate of mine who worked in that field gave me a tour of her workplace and helped with my field research so it would be as authentic as possible.

Mira’s coworkers were varied and quirky. Some were amalgamations of real-life people while others were born of my imagination. They joked and laughed together. They shared personal theories on life, love, and beliefs. Before I knew it, the first draft of Just Wait was complete.

Santa Barbara was my home when I completed the second and third drafts of the book. Then it was once again time to query agents. After a month or so of sending out letters and sample chapters, I finally got a reply from a well-known agent known as the “Pit Bull.” Like the breed of dog who is known for clamping down and not letting go, her reputation was to not "let go" of your book until you were published. The Pit Bull was requesting the entire manuscript because it “sounded like an interesting premise” for a novel! I screamed. I jumped up and did the happy dance. I was sure this was my big breakthrough into the publishing world. I went to Bill’s Printing on State Street and spent $40 to print out my manuscript on good paper. I boxed it up, sent it to her, and waited. Three months later, a letter came back. She felt I was a talented writer and the book was a great idea, but not great enough for her to feel confident enough about selling it. I felt confident, however, and decided that I would just self-publish it to prove to her or any agent that I could sell books.

Right around the time all this went down, the hit TV show The Office came out. An office full of comical and quirky characters. DAMN IT, I thought. My book is going to look like some knock-off of this show! Still feeling the sting of rejection, I decided to take a break from Just Wait. Ideas for a new book were coming fast and furious, and I wanted to switch gears in the worst way. I promised myself I would not abandon Just Wait completely, but return to it at a later time.

Saffire_21 practically wrote itself in one year. I felt it had a lot of potential with social networking being such a big thing. After completing it, self-publishing it and promoting the crap out of it through viral marketing and book events in multiple cities, I had finally pioneered the life of an indie writer and proven that I could sell books. Now I’d have some cred to provide agents and publishing companies.

For the next two years I found myself in a very “stuck” place as a writer. I’d begun a new novel that I was really into at first until family tragedy, obligations and a chronic injury sent me into writer’s block. I knew I had to jump start my writing career somehow if I wanted it to continue, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen with the novel-in-progress that had lost its steam. That was my cue to get Just Wait back out of the closet. A sister and a friend had been my alpha-readers and loved the book. Contrary to what the Pit Bull thought, I knew it had potential to be a success.

There was only one problem.

Ten years had passed since I wrote Just Wait. My 30-year-old main character was outdated. A 30-year-old of today was a member of Gen Y. She listened to different music in high school. She used cell phones and texted. She liked Ryan Gosling, not Matthew McConaughey. I was faced with a choice: I could either make it a retro 90s story or set it in current times. I voted for current times to reach a wider audience. So I spent a few months changing things and polishing the manuscript even more. Then I emailed one of the most capable masters of grammar and English that I knew and said, “Ali, I’m ready to publish this damn book!”

“Well okay, then!” came her reply. She was willing to edit the manuscript for me.

And so began the long, tedious journey of the publishing phase. Little did I know at the time what irony was to befall me, and how long I was going to have to just wait for Just Wait.

To be continued….