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.

did I write that?

These months of compiling and editing poetry that I wrote years ago have been interesting. Going back to that time when I wasn't who I am today is disconcerting at times and laughable at others. It's like meeting up with an old friend I hardly know anymore.

Maybe that's part of why I've been dragging my feet a bit when it comes to actually releasing this book. Maybe I'm afraid you'll think I'm still the girl I was when I wrote these lines that were lifelines holding my life together. Maybe I don't know how to tell you I was once the author of these poems, but I'm no longer the same person who wrote them.

Once upon a time I wrote these poems because I needed them. I don't need them in the same way anymore. Today I prepare to publish these poems not because I need them, but because maybe you do. Certain people have already read a few and already begged for more. These friends have become better friends because of these words I once wrote.

And so I cannot regret those words I once wrote. I choose not to regret even the sloppy phrases dripping with hurt that never became full poems because they helped to shape the words that did make it into this anthology. I choose not to regret the pain that drove me to my pen and my keyboard because now I have something beautiful to share.

Perhaps my only regret is that I haven't shared them sooner.

don't fall asleep waiting for morning

Change is terribly exciting;

sometimes terrifyingly so.
I'm not one to seek it out
or embrace it when it surrounds me.
Except when I do...
Practice makes perfect,
and I've had plenty of practice these past few years.

Visiting a dozen states and living in two...
Launching a brand...
Writing a book...
...and now, getting married.

Some change is good, after all.
This recent one certainly has been:
An invitation to begin anew,
to reexamine goals and priorities,
to establish good habits
and choose to live the life I want.

It makes me ask the question: why wait?

Like the song I love that speaks of
"mercies new every morning"
and points out the fact that
"it's always morning somewhere,"
while the dawning of a new day
is a lovely time to begin a thing,
why wait?

Even if for now
all you see is darkness,
the dawn is somewhere
over the horizon.
Why wait for a perfect sunrise
when you can get a head start now?
Then, when the sun does rise,
it will illuminate the great work
you have already begun.

I'm glad I didn't wait
to write a book
until I had a publisher.
I'm glad I didn't wait
to sew a dress
until I needed a custom wedding gown.
I'm glad I didn't wait
to cook and clean
until I had my own kitchen.

I'm glad I didn't fall asleep
waiting for the morning.

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.