Almost there (3 and last)

OK, here’s the last part of the writing process. Just to recap: I managed to embrace the idea that I’m an author and have started to learn to recognize that whenever I surrender to what wants to happen great things happen right away. A great starting point for the period that followed, finishing the revised second edition of the manuscript. Several friends had given great feedback on the first draft and soliciting their feedback was quite scary at first but morale boosting when they actually told me in detail what they liked about it and how it resonated with them. But OK, I had revised the first draft and now it was time to send it out to a different audience.

As it is in English, I had given it some thought how and where to find a publisher. The UK seemed to be my best bet and quickly I found out that publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. That’s the role of the literary agents. They act as a buffer for the publishers and their task is to separate those manuscripts that they believe have commercial potential from those that they believe that don’t have that. And from the sheer numbers of manuscripts that are being sent out each week alone, that makes a lot of sense. After having researched the agents I made a list of some 20 of which I thought they might be interested. It was actually great fun studying what each of them wants to receive in order to be
able to judge whether or not my manuscript is something they would want to work with. Or in other words: to make the decision whether or not they would represent me. In spite of all the warnings about the unlikeliness of finding representation at all I felt confident enough to start sending off whatever it was each of them requested. What I hadn’t expected is that they would react at all (as some of them had mentioned on their websites). By far most of them wrote a mail or a letter, giving me the impression they had actually looked at the material. Which means that real agents had read something I had written as they would read something real authors would write! And although no one felt they could offer representation it boosted my self-confidence enormously and further amplified my belief that the novel would be published. What I had not anticipated is how fast that would go. Half June I got a mail from Shaker Media that they would be delighted to publish the novel. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the mail. At first I read the words ‘unfortunately’ and ‘I’m sorry’ which sounded as a standard rejection. However as I re-read the mail it said “I’m sorry that I can’t continue reading your manuscript as, unfortunately, you only sent the first 50 pages. It should be
clear by now that we would be delighted to publish ‘The Glass Dome’. “ I nearly exploded for joy. Immediately I though back of what JK Rowling wrote in the 2011 Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook about seeing this message from her agent about wanting to read the balance of her manuscript. ‘The most magical words I have ever read’ as she had put it. And boy, could I relate to that!

What I thought would follow was a week or two (at max) of calmly going through the manuscript. Yeah, right. What really followed were six weeks of intensely working round the clock completely revising the manuscript. I had gotten some feedback in January about some weaker parts in the story. I could understand that feedback but, strange as it may sound, I couldn’t see it back then. But now I saw it and I radically changed most of the second part of the story while improving the first part. Then there was the cover design, deciding on the size of the book, the colour of the paper, the quality of the paper, page layout. contracts, what not. A very intense period at the end of which I had a sense of achievement and….. a feeling that I was not sure if anybody should actually read the story. Fortunately that feeling vanished in seconds after it had surfaced 🙂

As we speak, the book is being produced and should be ready for distribution sometime in the second week of September. One of the great things of working with Shaker Media to me is that we’re co-creating the success of the novel. It’s not that they take it out of my hands and I just sit and wait what happens. On the other side, there not one of those printing-on-demand suppliers either. It is an interesting mix of a traditional publishing house and modern printing and distribution techniques. I’m sure our relationship will intensify over the coming months and I’m looking forward to that.

Having (almost) finished the writing and production phase a new phase has started: getting it to the market. That’s going to be an interesting experience in itself but as it was with finding a publisher: I’m fully confident many people all over the world will just love to read it. So, yeah, by all means: if you want to pre-order your personal copy, with a personal dedication just drop me a message. For now, I’ll be engaged in marketing the novel and…..starting to write the second one, which will be related somehow to The Glass Dome. Stay tuned!

Love and Blessings,

Geert

www.geerthofman.com

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Almost there (2)

As promised, I would tell you a bit more how the writing process continued after I had accepted that I am an  Author 🙂 Somehow I had always  said that before the year 2010 was over, I would go into some kind of retreat and review what I had gotten so far in order to come up with the first version of the manuscript. It must have been clear from the outset even to me as an unexperienced writer that it would take more than one version of the manuscript before it would be published. So mid-november I was ready for that and some funny synchronicity happened. Friends of mine had offered space at their place somewhere high in the Swiss alps. Unfortunately they had to come back on their offer, which I fully understood. Several other options were presented but I just felt it had to be the alps where I would finish the first version of the manuscript. Upon checking flights to Zürich I noticed a bargain right at the day I needed to fly out. I booked it without knowing where to stay. This is not a normal thing to do for me as I would have checked out everything around the trip before booking the flight. After having researched several sites for holiday homes I found a place in Saas Fee. It listed as most expensive compared to various alternatives but it just felt right. So on the eve of the trip I talked to the gentleman renting this place out and confirmed I would be there the following day. Without any deposit or credit card data given whatsoever.

On my way to Zürich I started doubting the whole thing. Basically it was ludicrous to spend scarce money on a flight and a holiday home. Why couldn’t I just stay home and do this work in the hotel in Hannover? Still feeling far from sure that this was the right thing to do I boarded the train at Zürich Airport to Visp. It was only after an hour or so on the train that I started to surrender to the situation. After all it was all sunk cost now and if I had felt so strongly about reviewing the manuscript in the mountains, it would make no sense to chicken out now. By the time I arrived in Saas Fee I had started to feel a bit excited. It was stone cold, the village was covered under a thick layer of snow which gave it something idyllic. After only a few minutes the home owner arrived with his small electrical car. He was as excited as I was, probably for different reasons as he must have had some doubt if I would show up at all when we spoke on the blower the night before. Upon arriving in my room I knew that I would be perfectly alright there. He had put in a bigger desk as I had told him I would come to write and not for skiing like everybody else. As I put the printed manuscript on the desk, he looked in awe at the pile of paper and said that I was obviously serious about working. After I had unpacked the rest and made the place look a bit like it was my home, I went out to get some more of that crisp mountain air. By now I was really excited and I couldn’t believe I had quite different thoughts about this small venture. And this got stronger……

The next day I started working at 10 am. If I would go through some 30 pages per day I would be through by the end of my stay and that would be fine. That turned out quite differently…. At the end of the first day, towards midnight I had worked through 165 pages of the manuscript. Totally in flow, obviously. I decided to stop in order to stay in a kind of regular pattern. One thing had become very clear though: taking the trip to Saas Fee was the best decision I could have made.  And all the other considerations were limiting beliefs manifesting. Weird but true. Needless to say that after the 12 days I felt happy and confident with the first version of the manuscript that would leave the seclusion of my private working space.

My biggest learning here was that I need to create the context which I need for an optimal result of whatever I’m undertaking. Rather than settling for something far less facilitating and then kind of stagger on, on the basis of will power but in the absence of flow. And as before, synchronicity occurs right away. Quite a powerful learning! What is a way for me to get to that place is, given my intention, to allow things to happen. I clearly got some learning to do there but I’m working on that. So yes, me too, I’m still haunted by stories that I have created myself from time to time and that keep me from doing what I should be doing. In techno-terms: limiting beliefs. So, uhhh, Motto of the day: Away with limiting beliefs! 🙂

Obviously, a few other things took place before I got to the end result and I’ll share those in part 3. Stay tuned! Love and Blessings, Geert

Almost there (1)

Phew, it has been quite a process. I mean writing my first novel ever ‘The Glass Dome’ (www.geerthofman.com/glass-dome). It started with an idea sometime back in 2009 and it took the encouragement of the participants of a workshop I was attending to actually start writing on it. Of course, I had a notion about what I wanted to write about but somehow it turned out to be extremely difficult to get into a flow of writing. I could be very disciplined and sit at my desk with the file opened. But staring outside or reading whatever popped up on my notebook screen or playing the odd game wasn’t really productive. And although I didn’t allow myself to go do other things (which I might have done as well) nothing much happened. From an interview with Paolo Coelho I learned that he ‘suffered’ procrastination as well. Having planned a day of writing at his desk, the first thing he needed to do in the morning is go into town for a coffee and to have a peek at the papers. And then of course he would run into someone he knew, get engaged in a conversation, probably have lunch and return home sometime late afternoon.

After having suffered more than just a few unproductive hours sitting at my desk, I found out that I got quite productive while working at other places. For instance, one day I worked almost six hours straight in the SAS lounge at Brussels Airport. The train from Hannover to Amsterdam vv turned out to be a good spot as well. There have been hours while flying, in restaurants, hotels, benches in parks, you name it. The most peculiar experience probably being sitting behind the steering wheel of my car, frantically typing during two hours I had in between two meetings. And finally I found a place in a hotel in Hannover where I would regularly go to. That created an atmosphere of going to the office. Although the restaurant was anything but quiet, I spent a good deal of my writing hours there at “my” table. Still, the flow I experienced was relatively short-lived and somehow superficial it seemed. This changed one morning in September 2010.

As I walked from the parking towards the lake entrance of the restaurant I peeked in to see of “my” table was free, as it usually was. I felt relieved that on that day too it was waiting just for me. Seconds later however as I opened the door and walked in, I saw somebody unpacking his notebook and installing it on “my” table. Within a second I was raging with anger. How could this be possible? I just checked seconds ago and the table was empty. Where did this man all of a sudden come from? Was he real or just a creation of my imagination? Was it one of those quantum particles popping up in my life? Anger subsiding I took place at the only other table with a socket for my notebook’s charger, still looking at the person at “my” table. One of the waitresses was patiently waiting until he was done unpacking and installing so she could put his can of coffee on the table. Recognising me, she looked at me with a smile, probably feeling amused that there was someone else writing at their place as well and having the same coffee as I normally had. It caused the man to look up and to address me. He suspected I did the same as he did. Which would be writing on a report or so in between two appointments. When I told him specifically came there to write, he giggled and asked if I was an author then. What followed was anything but pleasant for me. Well, at least for a minute or so. You may not believe this but I wasn’t able to answer the question. Thoughts raged through my mind trying to come up with a suitable answer. “Tell him you’re a coach, executive coach, senior consultant, manager, director, ceo, whatever.” After what seemed an eternity to me I managed to say “Yes, I’m an author.” My heart pounding, my breathing more like panting I felt anything but calm but still a bit better than before now that I had said it. He laughed and came to my table to give me his business card. We exchanged a few friendly words and when he got back to his place I felt enormously liberated. It was as if something had opened up and as if that enabled energy to flow where it previously could not flow. It was the first time I publicly declared that I’m an author. And I felt good about that. Well, I allowed myself to feel good about that. Before this incident I would say that I’m an executive coach and also writing a book. I did not allow myself to feel good about being an author. It wasn’t that I forbade myself saying that. No, no. It was buried so deep in a maze of beliefs that the thought never would surface. therewith subconsciously marginalising the importance of this project for me in spite of the synchronicity that would occur whenever I managed to work on it in flow, where I would allow the things to happen, that wanted to happen.

So what I learned from the writing up until that moment is that:

  1. It’s really OK to find or create the context  I (know I) need for writing.
  2. It’s really OK to say that I’m an author, (and actually being one) as it’s really OK to say I’m an executive coach. One doesn’t exclude the other and they should not, at least not at this moment. Apparently I held an enormous set of intricate beliefs about being an author that prevented me of getting in flow.
  3. Synchronicity occurs whenever I stop blocking what wants to manifest. In other words: writing the book is not so much a personal ambition for me. It’s much more a way of expressing what I am already expressing in my work as executive coach. So in a way it’s the same energy wanting to become manifest but only in a different way. Allowing that to happen creates flow and hence great possibilities. Blocking it creates frustration and anti-flow.

I will continue this story to share the remainder of this process in a few days. Shortly, the novel will go in print and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that. So yes, there is a happy end to this story.