This is just a quick blog update to ask you to go check out my new site page (My Published Authors)! These self-published rock stars deserve a huge shout out for doing the hard work to achieve their dreams. Beautiful souls with wisdom to share and human moments to let us all know we are not alone. All of them have inspired me and become great friends.
Before I started coaching, I sort of expected it to be helping writers out of writer’s block or helping them set doable goals in order to finish a project. Now, even though I’ve only been doing this for a little over a month and a half, I realize it is so much more.
As writers, we don’t usually fall into these issues out of nowhere. I’ve come to understand that even the most common writer problems generally stem from our outer life. Whether we are stalled on a project because of stressful daily life, or can’t get started because of unpacked emotional boxes, we all have outside factors affecting our writing.
Something else I’ve learned? Not all writers–and I’d venture to say none–are the same.
Not that I really thought all of my clients would be the same, but I did imagine they’d take a similar approach to one another. Boy, was I wrong! I’m so glad my mentor told me to keep an open-handed approach, because each of my new writer friends needs something different from me. It makes this “job” so interesting and fun, and I love it.
For example, one of my very first clients was actually looking for help writing academic papers. This person is intelligent and knows the advanced class material well, but struggles to get it down on paper without feeling overwhelmed. I completely understand. The knowledge was there, and having a sounding board to help organize the intense amount of information was all this person needed. This client changed the way I think about coaching, and made me a better listener, for sure.
The rest of my clients fall into the writer category. I’ve got a few novel writers, ranging from sci-fi to memoir, and a very talented poet. While each of these share the INFJ/INFP/HSP traits and some of the same issues, each of them has needed a slightly different approach.
Maybe it’s fate, or perhaps it’s the fact that I’m also INFJ/HSP, but I’ve found that I share some unique threads of experience with each of these people. I see it in my mind when we have that first consultation phone call–a few glistening strands of their life’s woven pattern, intertwining with mine and giving me insight into what they’ve been through and what they will become. Now, my life’s pattern is connected to these others, and I can’t help being invested in their path to happiness.
The most important thing I’ve learned over the last month is that none of these writers have a simple problem. It’s not one thing preventing them from getting the words down, it’s many things. The actual writing itself has faded into the background, while the emotional issues take precedence. Those emotional difficulties are wrapped around the pen, clogging up the ink, and there’s no way around them except to go through them.
So, I listen. Through listening, I understand. Through understanding, we both learn, and by learning, we grow–them as writers and me as a coach, both of us as people.
If you’re one of my clients and reading this, I want to say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart. You have truly changed my world and I can’t wait to see where life’s journey takes you!
This is my review of the book Between the Shadow and Lo, by Lauren Sapala. It is available here, but please read the review before purchasing.
I’m not going to lie, this was a hard book to read, and it will not be for everybody. Don’t get me wrong, the writing and structure are well done, and the language easy to follow, but this book deals with some serious issues, including alcoholism, sex, and drugs, among other things. Not to mention the sheer rawness of emotion bleeding out of the pages, which was hard to take at times. If you can’t handle the ugly, human side of life, please walk away, now, and preserve your happy thoughts.
This book is nothing if not boldly honest, and if you open your mind to truly experience this character, the depth of her pain and anguish will seep into your bones and not let go until the very fragile, hopeful ending. The honesty, in my opinion, is worth the read.
In this book, you follow along inside the head of a young woman named Leah. From the very start, it’s apparent that she has a problem. At first, it seems as though her problem revolves around a breakup, which causes her drinking to rapidly increase over time. As her alcohol addiction takes hold, Leah’s own self-loathing reveals itself as the true problem, steadily pulling her under until all she can think about is escaping herself. For self-preservation, Leah’s mind creates Lo, an alter-ego that is willing to take over while Leah hides behind the veil of (un)consciousness. After witnessing many of her friends and acquaintances fall victim to their own addictions, Leah can’t help feeling alone and starved for meaning in her life. Is this really all there is? After all, she has—quite literally—lost everyone and everything in her life. Finally, hope comes to her in two parts. One, colored on cardstock, making her feel again for the first time in years. The other, a kindred spirit to let her know she isn’t alone anymore.
This description could never do the book justice. Lauren Sapala’s vivid words are above and beyond some of the best I’ve ever read, and even though I have never been an addict, I was able to understand it in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible.
If you want to get the full effect of this book, you have to be willing to feel the hate, depression, and distortion this character is going through. You have to take it for what it is, and accept Leah for who she is at the lowest period of her life.
There is no light reading here. You are all in, or all out. Red pill or blue?
This, my dear friends, is my book review of Blessed Are the Weird by Jacob Nordby.
In quotes alone (all from Mr. Nordby’s wonderful book), this post is going to be a long one. You’re welcome to keep reading, but if you identify as strange, out of place, creative, INFJ, INFP, HSP, or any of the other types I commonly talk about on this blog, just go buy it here. I was lucky enough to get it while on a sale for kindle, but I fully intend to buy the hardback when I have a physical library. It will go right next to Lauren Sapala’s books. In fact, this book was one of her recommendations to me, and I’m grateful to her for that.
So, here we go!
In his book, Blessed Are the Weird, Mr. Nordby explores the experiences and virtues of all kinds of Weird People. He talks about poets, misfits, writers, mystics, heretics, painters, and troubadours, but his words encompass any and all people who see the world differently.
Now, more than ever, I feel I am on the right path. It’s simultaneously the most difficult and easiest path I’ve ever taken, but every step seems to bring me more of the answers I’ve sought my whole life. Since finishing my novel and starting this social media journey, I have crossed paths with the most amazing people, been introduced to works of writing I never could have dreamed existed, and realized something life-changing: I am not alone in my weirdness.
“Where it all begins, I cannot say, this sense of being a stranger in a world full of people who seem to belong in it. All I know is that some of us are not like the others–something in us doesn’t fit. Most of us start to know this in early childhood when we run to our mother or father or a friend with some idea–some way of expressing what we feel–and watch them pull away. Their faces close like shutters, leaving us lonely and afraid that we have done something wrong. We learn to hide and lie about our true selves because what felt like our treasure turned out to be dangerous or of little value. These moments are scattered through our childhood, each stealing a piece of our innocence, leaving in its place a wounded patch of flesh now covered in armor. We learn to protect ourselves, to act normal and turn down our light.”
When I read this passage, as with many others in this book, I couldn’t help wondering how Mr. Nordby was able to see into my past and put it into words so well. Until Lauren’s books and this one, I had no idea there were others experiencing these things and pretty much just figured I was born “wrong” in some way.
“In general, Weird People are highly self-conscious. We tend to observe the world–and ourselves–constantly in ways that other people don’t. We watch our own mind and watch our mind watching itself! This makes for a lot of awkwardness.”
I love this quote. I’ve always assumed that everyone did this ‘watching your mind watch itself’ thing. It’s an automatic response for me, and I didn’t actually realize how few people do it until 8 or so years ago, when I met my SO, who was baffled by my thought process and said so. “Normal” people don’t do this.
There are a lot of things we do that “normal” people don’t. Most of my life, I tried to fit in, never understanding why it didn’t make me happy. Everyone else was happy, so why couldn’t I be? This book addresses these feelings, but also shows us why we need to stop trying to be like everyone else.
“No matter how well we might follow someone else’s map, something in us silently screams, “You’re a fraud!” Nothing is worth that kind of life–not money, not fame, not superficial acceptance. Nothing. But it is worth everything to live by our own lights and know for sure we are doing our very own thing in this world.”
It’s ok to be normal. In fact, it makes life a lot easier when things make sense like that. What’s not ok, is to pretend to be normal when you’re not. Anyone pretending to be something they’re not, can never be truly happy. Instead of pretending, this book points out that, above all, we need to truly be ourselves, whatever form that takes.
“Being creative is not about being artsy; it is the rugged forever-commitment to carve a life that allows full expression of ourselves, however that looks.”
It even shows us how denying ourselves can hurt us on a physical level. If you’d told me this as a younger person, I would have nodded without really absorbing what you were saying. I “knew” this, but never really let the meaning sink into consciousness. I didn’t understand why I was emotional and depressed and got the flu or colds that would hang on well past their normal range, so this next quote really hit home for me.
“The thing is, though, denying our sensitivities and gifts makes us sick. We might develop psychoses, depression, or physical problems because we have suppressed the impulses of our own souls. We might have a nervous breakdown that can’t be explained by anything other than the fact that we have ignored what’s real for too long. Learning to accept and use our anomalous gifts is a prescription for health.”
I have a hard time seeing my weirdness as a “gift” or something special, but Mr. Nordby seems to believe that we Weird People have the ability and opportunity to heal the world. It’s a hard idea to wrap my head around. Can the creatives of this world really save it?
“The only success now is living and creating a work-of-art-life: unique, rich with meaning, naked of anything we don’t care about, and ruthless about carving out something absolutely real from a world that has gorged itself on fakeness and become critically ill from it. The only failure now is pulling back from that quest because of fear.”
That sure does sound like our world…one that appears to be dying, where nothing is real, and fakeness is the norm. Just look at our leaders. (I’m not trying to get political, just stating an observation.) We’re supposed to be able to look up to those in charge, admire them for their courage in doing the right thing and trust they have our best interests in mind. All over the world, all we see are liars and cheats and hateful, greedy people vying for more and more attention.
So, maybe some of us Weird People, through our creative endeavors, might offset that negativity…some day. I don’t know if we have the kind of power that this book suggests, but if we do our best to live honestly, maybe others will want to do the same. I have definitely noticed more people craving things of reality and truth, tired and sick with grief for the world in which we are living. Can you imagine what things would be possible in a world of honesty? I hope Mr. Nordby is right.
“In other words, living creatively rescues us from the soulless existence that has swept across the world and makes the zombie pandemic in The Walking Dead look like just an average flu season.”
Here are some things in this book that I’ve always felt, but rarely seen other people understand:
“Most Weird People I know are only truly afraid when they start to get numb. Our depth of feeling–our ability to sense things and constantly process them–is our most valuable currency in this world, even if it isn’t always easy to turn it into cash in the bank.”
“Acceptance. We all crave that. It is the same thing as the feeling of being at home–home in the best way, home if home were the safest place on earth and no one would ever put us down or make us feel like strangers there.”
“And home, in this case, is the great comfort of living deeply real lives that match who they really are.”
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve felt the pain of the void inside and begged to go “home” despite not knowing where or what “home” really meant. I didn’t understand the need, but it was strong, and the lack of it was close to unbearable, physically painful and emotionally consuming. The lowest times in my life are punctuated by this feeling. I tried to talk to other people about this, but always got blank “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to help you” stares. To have it written out in plain words is beyond comforting.
Something kind of random I wanted to mention. As a writer, I’ve started paying attention to the Acknowledgments in other people’s books, finding them much more fascinating now that I’m writing my own. Mr. Nordby has one of the more unique “Acknowledgments” sections, and I love that he included a “Fuck yous” section as well. This made me laugh out loud.
Looking over this, I’m not sure if I’ve actually managed to do a review, or just posted a bunch of my new favorite quotes. I feel scattered because it made me think about so many things at once, but hope I’ve at least conveyed the feeling of it for you. Reading some of the Amazon and Goodreads reviews, I realized this book will either really resonate, or not make sense at all. So, if any of these words strike a chord within you, you’ll know Blessed Are the Weird is meant for you. The quotes I chose were narrowed down from over 30 that I liked, and there were so many more that I wanted to include. If I had added them all, it would have just been…the book.
I will leave you with this quote, because it’s one of my favorites:
“Let’s listen to our hearts beating and tell lies that are truer than truth and feel again the electric throb of whatever great creative Force crackles through our veins at times like this. Let’s remember the joy of being here and the magic of what might be possible if enough of us are once again free.”
I’m finally getting my review up of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers, by Lauren Sapala! Let me save you some time…if you’re wondering whether or not to buy this book, just stop reading this post and go do it. The advice in it is definitely worth more than the awesome 3$ Kindle price tag, and when I have a house someday, I’ll be re-buying it (and The INFJ Writer) in paperback. I haven’t read her memoir yet, but I bought it and I’m sure it’s amazing as well.
Ok, so now it’s time for the breakdown and my favorite parts! Well…some of my favorite parts. There are too many to include here. The book is set up in chapters with a common theme mixed with her awesome personal stories, and then questions at the end to help you think through your thoughts and feelings.
**If you’re not an INFJ or INFP, you may not relate as much. But, if you’re even mildly sensitive, I believe you will enjoy her books.**
As I’ve said in a previous post or two, Firefly could not have come at a more perfect time in my life. I can’t help but believe the universe crossed my path with Lauren’s for a reason, and I’m so glad it did! Reading her words, all I can do is shake my head in disbelief at how many of the same sentiments I’ve had, but that nobody has ever understood. She even talks about how she learned to blend into her environment “like a chameleon” and about how she was never interested in the things everyone else was, nor was anyone interested in the things she was. This meshed with my previous post so perfectly, but she words it much better.
One of the things she talks about is “achievement oriented” vs “relationship oriented” mindsets.
“If you’re wondering what an achievement oriented culture looks like after it’s been allowed to run rampant for years on end, look no further than Hollywood or the political scene in Washington, D.C. People who engage in gossip and slander, point fingers, denounce, boast, and threaten and intimidate others are all very much a part of any achievement oriented scene. In this kind of culture, aging and illness are unacceptable, emotions are suppressed, and compassion is seen as a weakness.” – Lauren Sapala, Firefly Magic
I love this description! There are so many marketing ploys that are in-your-face, “if you don’t have this (thing, service, etc.), you’re trash!” This mindset is why we, as artists and writers especially, dislike the idea of marketing. You find yourself asking “Do I have to market this way to get my stuff noticed?”
Lauren seems to have hope for our world, though, saying that things are changing. She believes people are “waking up” and realizing it’s a broken system, and that “relationship oriented” (where we are all connected and supportive of each other, rather than in competition) people will prevail. I hope she is right. In Firefly, she details how you can use the “relationship oriented” frame of mind in all kinds of marketing, and how HSPs can stay true to themselves and still be successful at it. This eliminates jealousy and comparison with other authors, and is beneficial to both your platform, as well as your peace of mind.
Firefly has great guidelines on how to create a healthy (for you) environment on social media. There are general rules you should consider adopting, such as “Only accept Friend requests from people you like and feel comfortable with.” and you can unfriend or unfollow ANYONE who ceases to make you comfortable. That’s so important! She also reminds us that we choose what we post about and share. We have the power to control what we do or say, and to add or remove people from our environment as needed. And, as she says, “You don’t need a reason.” That’s both powerful and comforting.
Of course, Firefly details how to attract followers and readers (with an adorable animal story), how to use the right key words/tags, and how to follow your intuition and curiosity to be a better writer and marketer. Near the end, she talks about how nothing in this line of work is permanent, and that sometimes you need to step back, take a deep breath, forgive yourself for any mistakes, and take the time to figure out how to do it right. That is a sentiment that really struck home for me. As a perfectionist, I’m usually very hard on myself, and it can send me into an anxiety attack and serious self-debasement if I make a mistake. So, being able to remind myself that I can fix things is important.
I have so many other things I want to say about this book, but that would run into thousands of words, and honestly you should just go buy it. If you want to know more about your inner Prostitute and your Unique Spiritual Purpose, go buy Firefly Magic here.
Are you an INFJ, INFP, or other HSP, and want to have your mind read by a book? If so, this is for you! She even pegged the fact that I don’t have a profile picture… I’ll have to ask her opinion on how to stay anonymous.
I’ll leave you with this quote:
“Every time you immerse yourself in marketing work with integrity, an open heart, and the desire to be of service to yourself and others, you are growing and evolving as a human being.” – Lauren Sapala, Firefly Magic