Spring has arrived at at last. We have had just a few sunny days and this photo was taken on one of them. We are having soup and bread for lunch seated out on the small deck. This is our sole table at this house which up to 18 months ago was our home – the rest of our furniture is in storage. We are busy renovating so that the house can go on the market. Little writing is taking place with the focus of selling our former home so we can build up at the beach among the bush and birds, overlooking the harbour. We hope to have a commanding view over the water in the beautiful spot we are calling home and I loved looking out over the water and bush while writing Kiwi on the Camino.
Tonight I received two emails from women who have just completed reading Kiwi on the Camino. Both encouraged me to keep writing. I look forward to beginning to re-focus so that I can pick up my second book where I left off. The working title is: Living a slower life. I invite response to this proposed title.
I find I have an ongoing challenge in remembering to slow down, to breathe and focus with gratitude on each moment.
I continue to learn many things – most of which are about myself. Things I thought I had laid to rest, are rising from their dormancy. Fortunately, when I talk of these things with friends, they laugh, and I know they love me while knowing all along, that these personality and character traits have not ceased to breathe. Dare I say that these aspects about me, which trouble me, are some of the things that make me unique? And even lovable?
I have felt flat with the (re)discovery of ambitions which had been hiding. Spring is a time of new life and a vibrancy of growth. Yet my energy does not match that of the physical world around me. I know, however, that it is in these flat times, without adrenaline to speed me on my way,the secrets of my intimate self – the creative gifts can come forth. It is in the darkness where my soul dwells that my creativity can be rekindled.
For now, I rest, remember to slow down and be quiet and I will embrace the flat feeling, looking forward to the return of energy. I welcome this period of grace wherein something new can come forth.
I don’t usually remember my dreams, but when I do I take note of them. I dreamed two dreams several nights apart and both had elements of fear in them with a sense of loss and grief. The first dream had me fearing for my life. A gunman was after me and during the dream, shot dead a companion of mine. He continued to pursue me. The second dream was of me present in a house that was being robbed. There were young children with me. The thieves were stealing valuable art work from the walls.
After a few days of thought, reflection and prayer, I came to the conclusion that the dreams were about my writing – the art of crafting words. The threat of the gunman was the threat to the life of my creative self and the threat of art work was a similar threat – a threat to the art of writing. The children were a symbol of the vulnerability of my hopes and dreams about writing.
These two dreams came within nights of each other and at a time when I was feeling very despondent post publication of KIWI ON THE CAMINO. The daunting task of marketing a self-published book with all the ensuing blocks was inviting me to ‘give up’ the effort of publicity and marketing KIWI ON THE CAMINO.
The dreams, with their fear and threat of loss of something that is very precious to me – the art of crafting manuscripts – gave me hope to hold on and to persevere. When I came to understand my dreams, things changed. Three sources confirmed they would review KIWI ON THE CAMINO and a fourth has left the door open for a possible review. Hope was once again kindled that KIWI ON THE CAMINO would at least get a chance of being known by the reading public.
I take a wider hope from these dreams as well; that is for all of us who aspire to create, in whatever form that may be, that we hold onto our dreams, and that we become even more tenacious when the way is dark and discouraging.
May we hold onto our dreams and hopes.
Today I learned that a former doctor of mine died June this year. He was younger than me. When I needed to consult him, we spent more time talking about riding our bicycles and the over-the-top pressure of our respective jobs than my current ailment. When last I spoke with him, he had reduced his work days to three a week to enable him to get more rest and fun time in his life. Perhaps he left his plan to ‘live a slower life’ too late. I do not know what killed him, but tonight I mourn a good man. I thought him a good doctor as well, despite my attempting to hit him when he reminded me – some three years ago – that I would soon be 60. (I write of this incident in ‘Kiwi on the Camino: A Walk that Changed My Life’.)
Once again I am reminded about why I have changed my life style and pared back to having fewer possessions. It is important to me that I take the time to breathe, to chew my food, to move as much as possible at a human pace, and to smell the air around me when I am in clean, green spaces. I am taking to heart Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s thought of “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” For my former doctor, he stripped away some of the stressors in his life, he was attempting to live with less money, less exhaustion, looking for a life that suited him better, but now it is too late.
Less is more, simplicity is more manageable than complexity. It is a myth that it is possible to multi-task. I am choosing to live my life more slowly despite the current pressure post publication of my first book. I am still holding on to the principles of pilgrimage in my ordinary, every-day life.
Growing a career when I have decided to live a slower live is becoming somewhat of an oxymoron. I am loosing my new slower routines as I attempt to cross off the ever increasing list of ‘must do’s’ now I have a published book. There are author and writer societies to join, writers’ groups to attend as well as writing workshops and seminars. There are retail shops to cold call on and that needs a marketing plan. The marketing plan has been on my list for days now, but seems to slip out of sight.
And then there are friends to help and visit. These are very important people to me who helped me craft Kiwi on the Camino into its final version. I have been thinking about the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’. Is it possible that urgent actually is less important than ‘important’? Can that be so? I decided today to let the urgent slip down the list to let the important take place. With that shift, my breathing slowed down and I felt my body relax.
People are important. Tasks become urgent.
Marketing in New Zealand has begun. With the publication of Kiwi on the Camino: A Walk that Changed My Life, I have made so many new, wonderful friends. People have been excited to meet ‘a published author’. (I add the caveat, “a self-published author!” I continue to be amazed at, and grateful for, the interest and excitement that Kiwi on the Camino is generating.
With Bruce, I attended the CBANZ book fair in Auckland. The wholesalers and retailers present were so encouraging and supportive of me and Kiwi on the Camino. The feedback was that the book is well written. Every wholesaler present has taken copies of Kiwi on the Camino home with them and have described their promotion plan for the sale of this book.
I have learnt much about the need for a marketing plan. Writing a well-crafted book was challenging. I am so naive. I had no idea I would need to become a marketer of my book. If marketing is about forming relationships, then I am happy to learn how to market my book. I believe in relationships. The heart of life is relationship. I have now spent three days forming new relationships, face to face, with people who run bookshops. I have had serious conversations with these pros – and they have given me so many words of wisdom. Thank you. A few of these generous folk took me aside to give me tips about marketing Kiwi on the Camino. Why did they expend the energy and time to do so? One of them said to me, “it is because you are a good writer.” How humbling to have such positive and encouraging feedback.
For those of you who may be interested in how I thought and approached my writing, I have a blog on BalboaPress, the self-publishing company which helped me turn my dream into becoming a published author, a reality. If you go to http://www.balboapress.com and hit the ‘blog’ button, my blog will come up. In this blog I talk about my publishing journey.
I have not posted photos on this blog site. At the moment I am loading photos onto my facebook site. Please visit my public facebook site – vivianneflintoffbooks
John O’Donohue in ‘anam cara’ writes that we obtain most of our knowledge through our senses. The emotional realisation of my home coming came when I stepped out of our car at our breakfast stop at The Corner Cafe on the Hauraki Plains, on the way home from the airport. I smelt the salt air. How invigorating and beautiful it was. I had not yet glimpsed the Hauraki Gulf, but I knew I was home.
August is a busy month with three book launches, two in Hamilton – August 20 after the 9.45 a.m. service at the Cathedral of ST Peter; August 24 at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral of St Peter and August 31 at Christ Church Coromandel also at 5 p.m. There is also the CBANZ book fair August 15-17 at the Indian Christian Centre, East Tamaki. These are all exciting events to be looking forward to and participating in.
My challenge is to hold on to the hope for living my life simply and slowly. The simply is less of a challenge, I think, for our home in the ‘wooden tent’ among the bush overlooking the harbour facilitates living life close to the land and sea. I have just finished reading Erin Loechner’s ‘Chasing Slow’ and that book title resonates with me. I continue to hold close to the principles of pilgrimage in my daily life. Being more mindful of myself in the moment and of where I am in the moment. I think an important aspect of living slowly and simply is of being grateful; to be grateful for each breath and to trust that my needs are being met.
As I think of the events up ahead, of catching up with family and friends and of introducing people to ‘Kiwi on the Camino’, I am grateful for the time I have had to write this book and the many new friends I am making because of the book.