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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Calamity Becomes Art

Lately most of my blog entries have been a bit on esoteric side, clouded and shrouded, meant to only reveal a shadow. I do this when my life gets complicated and answers evade me. I receive great comfort from the pillowy protection that prose, metaphors and poetry offers me. I could live there forever if allowed, but I’m not allowed, and I must come out from behind the mist on occasion and do a little show and tell.

I am currently on the brink of realizing an important part of my dream with the upcoming publication of my novel, Cosette’s Tribe. The seeds of this dream were planted when I was a child living out a nightmare. Of course I wasn’t aware of my dream then, after all I was just a child. And besides, I was too busy trying to survive, dodging monsters in between games of hopscotch, and seeking out safe habitats on the fringes of society. But throughout my life I always had a certain sense that there was something important that I needed to do.

As I matured I aspired to become a writer; one with the ability to inspire people whose childhoods read like pulp fiction. I wanted to speak to those little kids living in adult’s bodies, the ones who still find it difficult to raise their heavy heads off their desks, lift their muted voices above their classmate’s, and move forward, far away from their fear and shame.

I’ve had to live through many years of lessons in order to reach the point where my calamity became my art, and my staggered footsteps a trail… a way out. When I look back at my life and I ask myself what I have to offer, I see my path transformed by life’s alchemy into a golden river, which is so pure that it pours out of me and finds form within the hearts that receive it. I have me. Leah. And I am enough.

Sometimes the closer we get to realizing a dream the harder the journey becomes. I was intimidated at the prospect of having to navigate the unknown realms of self-publication. I love to write, but I hadn’t planned on becoming a publisher. My life in general has become a bit complicated over the past year, and then with the added pressure of self-publishing I became discouraged, which led me into a phase of stagnation and fear.

I know from experience that I can only gain understanding as I move forward, and that perfection is a lie invented by fear to inspire inferiority and paralysis. So, today I’m embracing all the things that I don’t understand about publishing my first novel, including all the technical things that tie my stomach into knots.

I’m also facing all the emotional issues that seek to derail me: fear of failure, fear of success, people’s reactions and my shyness. These are but heavy chains meant to keep my dreams earthbound. Dreams have wings you know; they need to fly. So, today I am giving my dreams wings by embracing the amazing journey of self-publication and following wherever it may lead me.

My job is to do the work required in order to set my dream soaring. Where it goes from there is entirely out of my hands.

On another note, I was recently honored by a fellow blogger with The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. At the time I was buried in work and worry and unable to offer appropriate thanks for this honor. So, without further ado, I want to thank J.P. Lane of All Dressed Up for this sweet honor. I encourage you all to drop by and visit her!

This video never ceases to inspire me.


Debbie Lamedman said...

Congratulations Leah! The only way to move forward is to enbrace the fear and work through it. You've done just that. So excited to hear that you followed your heart and your dreams and took the plunge to publish your novel. Bravo my friend! Bravo!

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

Leah, you are absolutely inspiring!
I, too, have been sitting a bit "frozen in fear" about navigating self-publishing; heck, I want to write, not market myself!
But, it is time, you have made me realize with this post, to contact my wonderful editor, give her the manuscript, and start looking into getting this show on the road!
Thanks for giving me the words I needed to hear today.
And, can't wait to read your book!!! Congratulations!!!

Jodi Chapman said...

You are so strong, Leah. So dear to my heart. And your words cut through all of the many layers and get straight to what's real within each of us. You just have a way - something that I am in awe of. I know without any doubt that you will publish and soar with your book. So many (including me) are waiting to read it - need to read it. And I am absolutely honored to be on this journey with you. You speak my language, and I am right here beside you - smiling, loving, and cheering you on.

Chris said...

I love how elegantly you are able to negotiate the boundaries between yourself and the world, your work and its reception, your role and responsibilities (in your work and the world in general) and where they end and other energies take over.

I love that you have recognized the power of turning calamity into art, seeing not nuggets but an actual river of gold in what for many people might have continued to be a valley of tears forever. I wish you the absolute best as you go through this experience of self-publishing and brace your shy self for the world's response :) All of the mess and the beauty is yours, and you will come out of it an even better version of you. I'm happy to be along for the ride!

Julia said...

Leah. I am so filled with emotion right now I don't know where to begin. You and your dream are just precious. After I posted about my dream this morning, I came seems you & I are in the thick of the very same things.

You are an absolutely beautiful writer, my friend, and so very brave. Thank you for showing up with all of your courage/doubts/questions/passion--with all of it. I am right here believing with the whole of me--in YOU and your dream.

With so much love,


P.S: I just watched that video of Susan Boyle again and it had me sobbing. How incredibly inspiring...

Healing Morning said...

Ahh...that one true fear that we rarely name: fear of success! I have repeatedly said over my lifetime that this is one of the bigger monsters we all wrestle. I am excited for you as you step into this new experience with self-publishing, Leah! I can relate to virtually every thought you've given voice to in this post; it appears we are, once again, traversing similar parallels. I'll be holding your hand, sweetheart, and then I'll let go and smile as you step up into the air to soar!

With love,


Cheryl said...

I think you are very brave. I know a lot about surviving childhood monsters and it is terribly hard to ever conquer the remnants of a shattered childhood. I applaud you that you have moved forward, set goals and are seeing them to fruition. The fact that you can see the positives that come out of diversity are so telling of your strength and wisdom. I can hardly wait to read your book.

The Loerzels said...

Congratulations Leah...for having the courage to follow your dreams, for believing in yourself and for confirming that perfection is a lie. You inspire me!

Leah Griffith said...

Debbie, Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and encouragement. I'm starting to feel excited instead of overwhelmed!

Leah Griffith said...

Martha, I'm thrilled that my post inspired you! You've been inspiring me on a continual basis;) We need to encourage each other and push one another along through this process. If I can do anything to assist you let me know.
Much love,

Leah Griffith said...

Jodi, your words melted me like butter. Thank you sweet soul sister. I know that life brings certain people together for a reason. I'm so grateful that you're here with me Jodi. Your encouragement is energizing. Thank you <3
Sending love and hugs.

Leah Griffith said...

My dear Chris, you have been in the front seat with me for some time now and I can't think of a better companion to have next to me. Your support and listening ear has kept me sane at times;)
I thrilled that you're here with me. Pull that bar down; the roller coaster is chewing up the tracks!

Leah Griffith said...

Sweet Julia,
When I read your post my jaw dropped. It amazes me how we parallel each other. Our dreams are there for us, we need only push forward, believe, live, enjoy. Oh how simple it sounds when you say it, but living it at times can be so daunting.
I love when I read a book about someone who overcame huge odds and found their dream. It strikes such a strong chord within me. (Hense, the Susan Boyle video.) Sometimes I feel as though we have a grand stand of witnesses cheering us on from the other side. We can't hear or see them, but we can feel them. You're one that they let slip through.... I see and hear you. Thank you Julia. I'm here for you also.
Love and hugs,

Dangerous Linda said...

Dear Leah,

You know your story of growing up with 'monsters' resonates with me at a core level. Your post reminded me of one of my all-time favorite art quotes:

“The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he’s in business.” – John Berryman

I'm holding you in my heart as you take your next steps toward self-publishing! I believe in YOU! XOXOX

Leah Griffith said...

Dawn, you are there on such a sweet consistant basis for so many. I love your analogy of me soaring with my dream. I can see myself in a hot air balloon soaring higher...
And yes, we paralel one another; we're traveling similar paths, and we are we have purposely been put here together . Thank you for your support and your smiling attitude, Dawn. I'm always thrilled when I get to be with you because you carry the sunshine with you.

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Cheryl, I believe there are many, (more than we can imagine,) adults who have had to navigate some pretty scary roads as children. Hell, we've all got something in our past that has stuck to us all the way up to adulthood. Some never resolve their issues. They get stuck and stunted. My book is about a girl who is pretty brave, and also determined, to take her life back from the hands of an abusive step father.

Thank you so much for sharing with me, and encouraging me Cheryl. You're one of the thrivers and that's pretty amazing.
Love and Hugs,

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you so much Marie. I'm honored that my words/life has inspired you. I really appreciate how you take me traveling with you, and entertain and inspire me all the way from Morocco! We're a good pair;)
Love and hugs,

Leah Griffith said...

Linda, wow! I love that quote! I'm going to go put it on my status right now;) Thank you so much for coming here and inspiring me. You're an amazing lady and I'm not just saying that because we share a birthday. LOL!!
Sending love and a huge hug!

janaki nagaraj said...

Congrats Leah that you have overcome your insecurities and you are ready to soar....wishing you all the best. This is the first major step and you will only go farther...Cheers!

JIM said...

Fantastic News Leah, I am really happy for you!! Looking forward to reading it!!

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I am very familiar with that sick, almost nauseous feeling right before a major life-changing event. The older I get, the more the nervousness visits me. Guess now I truly understand the risks.

That said, if anyone needs to get her story out , it is you, Leah. You are a natural writer. That is a very rare bird, you know. Time to take flight.

I, for one, cannot wait to read "Cosette's Tribe." If it is anything like your lyrical, insightful blog posts, it will be magnificent.

As for self-publishing (and publishing in general), it is an agonizing, terrible industry (you are too real a person for me to sugarcoat it), but one that cannot be avoided when talent such as yours exists.

It is a crazy ride, with many good days, and many frustrations, but, then again, so is life, right? When it is good, it is amazingly good, and those days will counterbalance your crappy ones. Besides, it is always better to follow your bliss than be chained to an unfulfilled job wondering what if.

I am so excited for you as you take your first steps on this journey. At the end of the day, no matter which kind it was, I still thank the great spirit for being a writer. I know you will too.

Good luck, my friend, and if I can help in any way, please let me know.

JP Lane said...

Congratulations, Leah! And welcome to the other part of the writer's world, which is yours by right, because you are a true writer. A book launch is daunting, yes, but you're not alone. I'm here (as I'm sure are a lot of other writers) to help you promote your book in any way I can, so please don't hesitate for even a second to ask whenever you need assistance. And feel free to post on my Facebook wall any time you like. Congrats again! Great news!

Tameka said...

Leah! My SAG sister and friend in writing I am so proud of you! I don't know what your monsters from childhood look like, but I can relate as I had my own.

I am also inspired by your dedication to your craft and look forward to reading your book when it is published. I have a completed MS that I'm also trying to figure out how to get to the marketplace. Perhaps I can peek in on your process and get some ideas. I've been clinging to the notion of wanting to be published through traditional channels but it's not happening so... We must evolve.

I am pulling for you as are so many others. Congrats, kudos, love and light!

Design Your Destiny: Which "Interior Design Of The Mind" Style Fits You?

Daisy said...

In life it seems we are constantly picking up the pieces and moving on. I have had to make this choice too! Staying where we are comfortable and warm is nice for awhile, but if you are anything like me you soon get bored with being stagnant.

Jayne said...

"I have me. Leah. And I am enough." It was here that I really choked up, Leah. Dang it girl, you ARE enough! And I'm so happy to see such positivity here at ELR. Not that we aren't ordinarily treated with such, but I feel your frustration and fear, and it is not easy to climb out of that dark chasm. Yet you always manage, and with such grace. And then, you inspire all of us.

Cosette's Tribe will soar, I know it will. And I'm looking forward to reading more of it. :)

Congrats on your sweet award!

kavita said...

Inspiring !Congratulations and good luck ! Always holding good thoughts for you .

melissa said...

I think the calamities make you a very effective and genuine writer and when turned to art, you inspire more people. I couldn't dig some of your recent posts but I try to be with them and appreciate whatever you have to offer to your readers. I also wanted to unveil some truths behind some of my posts, I'm glad I came in here first. I liked the motivation for which you write. I truly admire you as a friend and a writer. God bless and congratulations :*

Leah Griffith said...

Janaki, Thank you for your encouragement! It’s full speed ahead now!

Leah Griffith said...

Jim, Thank you for your support. It’s always nice to hear from you.

Leah Griffith said...

Karen, I can’t tell you how much your words mean to me. I feel as though so many wonderful and talented people are embracing me.

You are right about the publishing industry being tough, and you should know, as you have already published your first wonderful novel and are working on the second one. But as you said, “It is a crazy ride, with many good days and many frustrations, but, then again, so is life.” Well said!

So my dear, here’s to life, and all the authors who must blaze their own trail through this new world of publishing.

I’m feeling bolder by the minute;)


Leah Griffith said...

J.P. Thank you so much for your kind words and support. I know you’ve been around the block with writing and have much to share. I really appreciate it.

The sweet spirit of so many talented people cheering for me warms me.

Leah Griffith said...

Tameka! I always smile when I see you here. Thank you for your support. Stick close to me and we’ll make it through this jungle. Lions and tigers and bears… Oh My! LOL!!

I really look forward to a day when we can meet face to face and have a long inspired chat.
Sending love!

Leah Griffith said...

Ms. Daisy, you are so right. Comfortable isn’t very comforting when you know that you have things to do and you’re sitting on your arse doing nothing. Be gone fear! LOL!! Thanks for stopping by;)

Leah Griffith said...

Jayne, I think you know how much your words mean to me. You’ve been with me for a while. Thank you!
So now, no more dragging my feet and dreading the unknown; I intend to look at the bright side, the satisfaction of having written a book, and the thrill of writing another.
Cosette’s Tribe will be out there soon. And then all the unknown details of publication that frightened me will no longer be unknown, or frightening! Man, I look forward to that;)

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you sweet Kavita! I’m glad you stopped by.

Leah Griffith said...

Melissa, all the troubles and trials help to shape our art. They become a part of the fabric of who we are. I’m satisfied with who I am. There’s not much more to say about that.
Thank you for your visits, your friendship, and your wise words. I always enjoy your company.

J. R. Nova said...

It's darkest right before dawn :)

Ron said...

Leah - You are right to take wing and fly. In my experience it is not uncommon for artists to have insecurities. It is not easy, but embracing them by acknowledging they exist can help overcome them. Congratulations on the book as well.

Calamity is fodder for artistic expression ;)


Jessica said...

May your wings take flight and take you to places beyond what your dreams have even imagined.

chrisair said...

this was awesome transforming your struggles into art, hope that many could follow you

Andy said...

My dear Leah,
Many congratulations on this exciting chapter in your life!
I wish you much success & look forward to any tips & tricks on how to navigate the self-publishing route. I'm still licking my wounds from being rejected by traditional publishers one too many times.
We're all routing for you, Leah dear. <3
Congratulations too on your recent award.

Leah Griffith said...

J.R. I know you are right!

Leah Griffith said...

Ron, I think it's strange how we can feel strong and confident and then something big comes along and we slide down that hill and land in the mud of insecurities. I'm heading back up the hill again. I'm glad I have you guys to cheer me on;)

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you sweet Jessica! That's a beautiful blessing;)

Leah Griffith said...

Chrisair, the biggest blessing is being able to inspire other people. Even if that means you have to admit to your insecurities. Thank you!

Leah Griffith said...

Andy, Thank you so much! I know what you mean about licking your wounds. Traditional agents are being extremely cautious about taking on unknown talent. You know I'm here if you need me.

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