Making My Case

I am spiraling. I need a new outlet. I wonder if blogging to crickets would be a good way to get started. Even though using the word “start” constitutes bad writing. Here goes.

I wrote a book. I don’t want to tell you exactly when because in my mind I want it to be one year ago from the time some fabulous publisher scoops it up and sends my life sailing into end credits. I keep thinking back to all of the bestsellers I’ve read and thought, “Who would read this? How did millions of people read this?!!!!”

The truth is many people who buy never finish. I love coming in contact with the people who have an utterly abhorrent reaction to someone who buys a book and never finishes it. I have a theory that these are the non-finishers of books and they are part of a large-scale cover up. Why question someone about a thing they are so clearly disgusted by? That’s the rub. Fuckers.

Sometimes I don’t finish books. When I do fall in love with a book, I don’t do anything until I finish it. I become immersed. I love the perverse. I love the honest. Not to brag but I have an uncanny knack for sniffing out inauthentic storytelling. People think I’m gullible but when someone is bullshitting me it’s so boring I have to just be polite and move on. Zero interest. Sorry come again. Not really.

Let’s take A Million Tiny Pieces. I read two chapters and thought none of this ever happened. I threw it away. Months later Oprah is grilling James Frey on the white couch with his hands squished between his knees. No, that is not an idiom fail—that’s what he looked like.

How about Greg Mother Fucking Mortensen? I saw him speak at the Aspen Ideas Festival. He was overweight, slovenly, abrasive, and wearing a vest. He seemed gluttonous, which is not a word for a self-proclaimed gift to the world, however, it fits a person who would stop at nothing for adoration. His bestseller is summarized this way on Wikipedia: “Three Cups of Tea describes Mortenson’s transition from a registered nurse and mountain-climber to a humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and elevating education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” I had to look it up because the only thing I remember from the first chapter is thinking it was inauthentic.

Not even one year after I saw Mr. Mortenson and his vest, my man Jon Krakauer (read Under the Banner of Heaven because it’s flipping amazing—no one relays Mormon drama quite like J.K.) exposed a number of his claims as false and G.M. was accused of mismanaging CAI funds. Turns out he mismanaged $6 million.

My book isn’t a memoir but it’s based in reality. It’s about the magical thinking involved in loving someone, in loving yourself, in loving anything really… You can see why my pitches aren’t going well. I haven’t submitted it too much yet but I’m getting there. I’m not calling out Greg and James because they’re garbage and I’m high up on a pedestal of inequality and woe. I point them out because even they found publishers. In a way I applaud their gumption. They didn’t let anything get in their way, not scruples or pride. Who needs pride? It’s so outdated in the modern world. I’m over it. BUT…

I’m not over finding a publisher for my book Commandments of a Mistress because I know there are people who won’t want to put it down. And, I hope there are millions more who buy it and never read it, because the profit is the same either way.

Much love,
Lauren

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Blog #5: Listening

This weekend I spent my time in Washington, D.C. I lived in D.C. for the part of life when everything feels very attainable, which is why I’m dedicated to my former city. I defend it. I build it up. My love is unconditional.

Being there at times felt familiar. Like when I walked by my favorite take-out spot on 14th St., the one I would order from every time I came back from a business trip.

I had so much fun catching up with dear friends, hopping in and out of bars, and showing my friend from Boston all around my young adult city. But, experiencing the city felt a little like cheating on Boston and my new life, which is remarkably happier and more fulfilling than my days spent traipsing around looking to talk to strangers and stay up all night.

I found myself remembering how much energy D.C. has. It’s becoming whereas Boston just is. Boston is not interested in changing; it’s adamant about preserving. There’s great comfort in knowing what you get. But, sometimes when I’m home, I remember how D.C.’s vibrancy can be intoxicating and unexpected. And, I miss it.

My excitement for the trip lead me to share my oh-so-important opinions with all the good people in my path, instead of listening.

Listening to other people and being curious is without a doubt thoughtful. It’s also how to win friend and influence people. However, in this case when I finally shut up, I started to listen. And soon, I noticed how much energy it takes to be in a becoming city like D.C.

Reflecting back, Saturday I spent all day at the pool drinking rose. (#roseallday) Then we took a nap from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. We went out at 11 p.m. We got home at 3:30 a.m. Man, I miss that. In theory.

As much as I agree that people should listen because it makes people like you and because learning is fundamental, listening can help break through blinders. When my blinders came down, I knew without a doubt I never would have been inspired to write my first novel without my D.C. experiences. I also never would have dedicated the time putting pen to paper without old steadfast Boston.

Boston’s stillness gave me room and headspace to create. Since I’d rather have the capacity for output than be drained in order to aid another city become, I know I’m in the right place.

While I was there I meant to send one query letter and research agents to query. Possible in Boston, impossible on 14th St. The pulsing energy of the city made me want to look in every direction but down at my laptop.

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Photo I took while trying to do work at the 14th St. Peet’s Coffee.

Blog #4: Thank you!

As much as the point of having a blog is for people to read it, I am still always surprised, in the best possible way, when people read it.

While I have mentioned my impatience regarding the publication of my first novel Commandments of a Mistress, I hold in my possession a larger part of my brain that is patient-ish.

This time around, as far as dreams are concerned, I’m not in as much of a rush. I’ve learned two simple things that may seem obvious to all but took me my entire twenties to figure out.

#1 Making the most of your time is what’s important—priorities vary amongst humans(!!). #2 As long as you’re alive, you still have time to pursue your dreams—dreams vary amongst humans(!!).

Ok, I changed my mind, I learned three things. It’s essential to be grateful for the small victories, and while we’re at it, stop thinking of them as small.

For some of us on the first go around, we are presented with some promising leads. The leads give us hope. They give us momentum. Then some don’t work out. Then none of them work out. And the assumption could internally be to say, “Clearly, I’m not worthy.” But dreams are tricky. What if you weren’t even given the opportunity to be rejected? Then what? You’d be left with your determination and will to keep going. That can never be taken away.

Before I thought if 10,000 people didn’t follow me or read my posts somehow that meant I was a failure. Thinking that put me at a serious disadvantage.

The mere thought, in addition to being self-absorbed, was an ungrateful act against the people who had clicked on my articles and were inspired to some action—thinking, reflecting, identifying, crying, laughing, hating, loving—all of which were communicated to me, but I focused more on the imaginary numbers to indicate success.

I wish I had realized sooner to be grateful for every opportunity, even when they don’t work out. All of this to say, I appreciate your readership. It gives me hope—and reminds me that we’re all in it together.

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Blog #3: Faith First

To find a literary agent for Commandments of a Mistress, there is a practical to-do list. This list includes researching agents who seem like they’ll dig my vibe. Everything else is ready. Query letter is written. My book is done. But wait, “Is it done? Is it horrible?” I consciously remind myself to have faith in it and me.

Why are the things we want most, often the most unfathomable? My heart seems to think the only thing between me and my dreams is ME. The pervasive thought I had yesterday was, “Regardless of the quality of my book, do I think I am good enough to have the career I want?”

I often find parallels to my situation with my elusive novelist career to finding “the one.” Maybe this is because there is a lot more information out there for women who can’t find Mr. Right than there is for women struggling with their career potential. (There’s a Beyoncé song about this, isn’t there?)

I hear some women talking about finding the right guy, the way I talk about my book. And our assertions are equally wrong.

“I’m just going to focus on my career instead.” v. “I’m just going to focus on my relationship instead.”

“All the good ones (guys) are taken.” v. “All the good ones (agents) are taken.”

“My looks!” v. “My talent!”

This is the best I can do so I might as well settle for what I have.

I’ve never questioned my value as a romantic partner, and while I have had relationships that didn’t work out, I knew without a doubt I would meet “the one.” And I did. Last year in fact—ten weeks before my 30th birthday. Perfect timing really because I don’t think I was ready before then. I needed time to develop. My unwavering faith was also matched by a standard that I would never settle for a love less than what I believe I deserve.

I’ve always wondered why I can’t muster the same faith in my intellect, my ability, my Commandments of a Mistress

I don’t have the answer. Not even close. I try to create a narrative that changes the way I think. While the practical checklist to get my novel published is obvious, I think about scribbling in: Faith must come first.

For me, I’ve taken comfort in these words from Liz Gilbert (of Eat Pray Love fame).

From an Oprah interview two years ago:

Everyone is on a hero’s journey. You can choose to accept the call or reject the call in order to be highest form of your being. 

If you deny the call, it’s not going to be an interesting story. If you want to be the hero, you have to answer the call.

Then comes the rejection and the road of trials, then come the characters who show up. The friends who look like enemies, the enemies who look like friends, the wise older woman who shows up, the trickster…

And you take what you need from them. Then comes the dark night of the soul, also known as the belly of the whale, the lowest moment, where you lose all faith and you consider quitting or maybe even dying. You’re humbled. You’re broken. And that is where you need to call on divine assistance and whatever the super natural power is you need, you call upon. Then the power comes. And with that recovery from the rock bottom, you learn your own talents and your own strengths and you have everything you need for the battle and in the battle, you lose your fear. In the battle, the hero loses all fear of death, which is what all fear is. Then you can face anything and then you become victorious. 

out dream yourself
This is from the IG account @astrologyangelmediums, they provide daily inspiration to 81k followers!

Blog #2: Doing Stuff vs. Not Doing Stuff.

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There are a lot of people who aren’t doing anything. They aren’t taking any risks. They aren’t contributing positivity. They’re actually sadly only detracting from the world. And yet these rat bastards are critical to the process and literally critical.

The same people who tell you you’ll never make it and that you’ll never accomplish your dreams are the same stupid fuckers sent to thicken your skin and prepare you for the journey ahead. You hate them. You try to understand them. In the end, you need them because without resistance there’s nothing to battle against. Without them there are no thoughts to write that will one day be read by someone in pain who instantly feels relief and thinks, “This person understands me. Finally, I’m not alone.” Giving that validation to one person and then another and another is what writing is all about.

As much as we try to understand them, maybe part of the message they are sent to teach us is that there is no reason to their rhyme. We want everyone we meet to be sent for good but the ones who teach us lessons can be more valuable than the ones who placate our whimsy–doesn’t mean we have to buy into their criticisms, though.

I had my writing skills attacked second hand yesterday evening where the alleged source could not have had less of my respect. And yet, I’m grateful because he taught me a meaningful lesson.

Back when I was missing the protection of the office life, I wondered what a safer path would have looked like. And in this critic sent to me, I had the opportunity to see that safe life as if I was a museum goer listening to the audio tour of a limited-time exhibit. I tried to comprehend and meld my ideas about life with their ideas. They didn’t compute.

I left my real-life performance piece bewildered by how much sacrifice goes into playing it safe. I had been so intently, acutely and excruciatingly aware of the sacrifices my foibles and my risks entailed. I knew every cent I’d saved and spent in the name of a big dream. I knew every plane ticket I’d bought with $2,000 in all my life. When I’d once thought all these moves foolish, I was granted immunity from my pain in the form of a critic who only wanted to see me squirm, who only wanted to attain dominance, and who wanted victory in the form of my adulation and pithy praise of the safe life. However, the lesson he taught was worth all the confusion. Now without a doubt I know I made all the right choices in my journey and that eventually I will get where I want to go.

While following your dreams makes you an occasional target, the people who love you and feel good about themselves show their support. I received so many lovely messages from friends and family yesterday after posting my first blog. My father also wrote to me. I don’t want to publish the whole letter, just a quote he included. While my father’s feeling and sentiment would have always existed, creating shakes loose the words that otherwise may have been left unsaid.

After reading the article I wrote on Mother’s day, my father shared some thoughts about my mom (who died 10 years ago), and included this quote from an unlikely source:

We will have many important and happy moments in times to come and I look forward to sharing them with you and everyone else I love. (You know who the are.) – Billy Bob Thornton

 

Blog #1: Bright Lights, Big Pity

I’m holding onto my manuscript protecting it from its potential oblivion while trying desperately to remember it could all work out just as I hope.

Last summer I was in freefall. I had accidentally started a marketing company because it was convenient and clients gravitated to me. Partly I didn’t want to be back in an office setting. While another sadder part missed the protection of an office setting. If you have a proper office job, no one questions how productive your days are. No one questions how productive your days are as a freelancer either but the word freelancer resembles freeloader closely enough to get the self-judgment wheels-a-churnin’.

I almost had enough clients. I had limited (extremely) limited expenses. I had the perfect opportunity to build my business. But I spun. I knew internally that all I needed to do was trudge along in the trenches patiently and eventually I would wake up at my revenue goal. I spun some more thinking it would be way better if eventually started tomorrow so my heart wouldn’t beat so fast. Yet, I wanted it to beat fast in order to burn calories without going to the gym. Nothing’s ever simple in life.

I took all my kilowatts and made a plan. I was going to write 2,000 words a day for 40 days. And at the end of those days, I would have my first novel: Commandments of a Mistress. I employed (with kindness) my friend Iva to receive pages every day and keep me on track.

I sat. I toiled. I felt delighted to know I accomplished something every day for 40 days. Right around the time I finished Commandments of a Mistress eventually arrived and my work-life settled.

Since then I’ve edited and edited. Read and reread. I’ve had friends read it. And they actually finished it and developed strong opinions about it—so that seems hopeful.

Now I am at the point where I can send out query letters to find the literary agent of my dreams and make that big book deal dream come true. However, I’ve stalled a little.

The book has been my shield. Right now I hold in my possession possibility, which feels nice. I don’t want to let go of that possibility and end up back where I started: churning.

I am the tortoise. And as the tortoise, I will be blogging now about my experience trying to get this lifelong dream accomplished. I hope not as slowly as surely.

Take a look at the query letter/premise of my first novel here. | My bio is here.

Check out my tweets about the Bachelor and the Bachelorette and some other stuff here at @lamuscarella.

Law of Attraction
Photo from @lawofattraction0, daily reminders to do things you know you should do and know you want to do but don’t always remember to believe. It’s cheerful.