the reason I wrote this book

The words of the poems in the book my heart poured out were a lifeline to me, lifting me up into beauty and light when I felt like I was drowning in the dark ugliness of this world.

I was working for a non-profit at the time, talking with young people about the painful circumstances surrounding abortion. I heard story after story of the traumatic events leading to unplanned pregnancies, the heart-wrenching choices surrounding the fate of those pregnancies (whether terminated or not), and the throbbing pain that continues long after those choices were made. I came home and cried. Then I turned to pen or keyboard and wrote.

The poems I wrote aren’t about abortion. Only a few flowed directly from any particular story I heard. No, these poems were simply how I kept myself from thinking that this abortion-centric world that my work steeped me in was the only world there was. They reminded me that there is beauty that transcends pain.

I'm sharing them now in the hope that they will do the same for you. Pain screams and demands attention, but there is always a quiet beauty somewhere behind it. Always, even when it’s almost impossible to see. Maybe some of the words that helped me to see it will help you to see it too.

using writing to create the reality you want

The sun hasn’t risen yet.

I’d rather go back to bed, cuddled up with my love until obligation forces us to throw off covers and go to work. Instead I settle into the cozy writing space I’ve prepared, blankets keeping me warm and soft glow from nearby lamp mimicking the light of the sun that will join us eventually.

I do want to be here, writing before dawn. I am happy when I make this a habit. Even when it means fighting the emotions of the moment, the impulse to do what feels good now.

My alarm went off at 6am. It has for weeks. But the snooze button is easy, so I use it… over and over…day after day.

Not today. Today I am up and writing.

Why? What changed?

Yesterday, I wrote down my goals. I took my neglected bullet journal planner and recorded in black and white what I wanted my day to look like. I wrote down what I would be writing about this morning. I wrote down that I would write before sunrise.

I wrote it down, and I did it. Not perfectly (I hit snooze three times). Not without complaint (the floor is cold!). But I’m not going to write down the imperfections and complaints in my journal.

I’m going to write of my success.

on reasons, excuses, & proper motivation

I’ve disappeared for a while.

I used to post to this blog every week.
In fact, I published 90 blog posts in 2016—
almost two for every week in the year!

And then …
2017 …
Silence …

True, I have continued to share
installments of my serial novel, Consumption,
though I’ve gotten behind there too.

I have my reasons,
of course.
A person always does.

I could tell you that two weeks ago I became engaged
and in six more weeks I will be married.
I could tell you that my family was visiting
and that my sister has moved in with me.
I could tell you that the overwhelm triggered a mental shut-down
and an emotional break-down.

I could tell you that these are the reasons
I’ve not stuck with my commitment
to publish here every week.

But that would be sharing excuses,
and sharing excuses is the wrong motivation,
which is part of why I haven’t said anything until now.

Now I tell you about my engagement and wedding
to share the joy of anticipated marriage.
Now I tell you about time spent with my family
to speak of the gift that such time is.
Now I tell you about shut-down and break-down that I am overcoming
to encourage you to do the same.

Now I write this to you
not to offer excuses for the past
but to establish a bond for the future.
I’m back, and I will continue to write.
Not perfectly, but when I mess up,
I’ll come back and carry on.

how (and why) I made Consumption a purple cow

The first time you see a cow, you notice it. But after driving past dozens of brown cows, they cease to be exciting. If a purple cow shows up, though — now that’s remarkable.

 

Seth Godin’s 2003 book Purple Cow initiated me into the world of marketing. In it, he makes the case that in order to sell something it must be literally “remark-able.” The idea or product needs to be easy for people to talk about and share, and it has to be remarkable enough that people want to talk about and share it. Like a purple cow. If you saw one, wouldn’t you tell somebody?

Marketing has been a hobby of mine ever since reading Seth’s book. There are all kinds of marketing ideas out there, but the best ones boil down to one thing: focus on your audience.

And so, when I set out to write and publish my novel, Consumption, I set out to create a purple cow that will better the lives of the people who read it.

A novel is a brown cow in a field of brown cows. The first step toward creating a purple cow was to make my novel different, but I didn’t want it to stand out simply for the sake of standing out. I wanted to make my novel outstanding in a way that would benefit my readers. So instead of writing twenty-some normal chapters, I broke my novel up into eighty-one vignettes that are easy to read, even in our internet culture of short tweets and digital screens.

Now that I have written Consumption, I’m using “purple cow” concepts to guide how I publish it. Brown cow novels are published in their entirety as ebooks, paperbacks, or hardbacks. My purple cow novel will be published here on my website as a serial, one vignette at a time. The story takes place over the winter of 2016-17, so my audience can read the story as it unfolds, beginning tomorrow under the full moon on Karina’s 18th birthday.

Choosing to publish Consumption online for free this winter makes it easy for my readers to share it. If a vignette touches them, they can share it on social media. If they know someone who would enjoy the story, they can text them the link.

Consumption won’t be available for free forever. Eventually it will become an ebook and a paperback that people can buy in order to support my work. By then I will be on to creating my next purple cow as I come up with more ways to make the lives of my audience better. Because in the end, that’s the point of a purple cow: providing people with something that makes their own lives more remarkable.