Posts Tagged ‘creating a new life’

Life as a bookseller

April 20, 2013

Retail was never my calling.

My early efforts to earn money didn’t include stints at clothing stores, sit-down restaurants or grocery stores. Instead I taught gymnastics at a rec center, bussed tables at a cafeteria and played receptionist at an H&R Block office during tax season. So my sales skills, if indeed one could call them that, were honed amid the bare bones landscape of door-to-door dealings as I peddled Girl Scout cookies annually for perhaps six years. (Yes, I was a Girl Scout for a long time.)

Let’s agree that this rudimentary training did little to entice me into the world of retail. Sure, in my journalism career, I feel like I “sold” the product of the news every day, and was an enthusiastic spokesperson ready to recount the reasons why a daily subscription was a bargain. But my pay has never been linked to sales or percentages, so I’ve never felt that pressure to “move product.”

Till now, of course.

Selling Kiss and Tell is a full-time job. I decided to devote the spring and summer seasons to spreading the word any way I can, whether through interviews, talks, social media, book-signings, chance encounters or just plain begging for coverage. I have a small, black notebook that I’ve used to jot down marketing ideas for months, and every few days I page through it to remind myself of what’s yet to be done. It lists everything from the email address and phone number of an acquaintance who belongs to the Red Hat Society to a reminder that I need to send Kathie Lee and Hoda of Today a copy of the book.

For the Today show gals, I will use the same tactic I employed for Dr. Oz, who was in South Florida recently for a wellness seminar at Gardens Mall. I put a copy of Kiss and Tell in a brightly colored bag with his name on it, and included an Oral-B battery-operated toothbrush. A ribbon attached to the toothbrush held a note reading: “Why is a respected gynecologist recommending this toothbrush as an enhancement to her patients’ sex lives? Turn to Page 3 and find out.”

Call it guerrilla marketing.

I was unable to hand my gift to Dr. Oz himself. About a thousand people were there before me. But I left it with his handlers, who were collecting all manner of Oz offerings for their famous boss. I feel cheered by the effort. And though the daily rewards are small, I rarely feel discouraged.

Sooner or later, something will come of all this. My friend Libby, who worked in a PR firm, says you’re after just that one break, that one contact, the one book that makes it to the right desk. You don’t know which book it will be, but it arrives at the perfect moment and its recipient decides to share Kiss and Tell with the world. That’s the goal!

Meanwhile, I’m finding genuine satisfaction along the way. Last Thursday’s book signing at The Palm Beach Post was truly fun for me and I had this moment about three-quarters of the way through when I felt completely grounded and secure and also thrilled. I realized I was comfortable talking about this sensitive topic, and had a glimmer of how passionate I feel about sharing what I’ve learned in order to bring about more understanding on the subject of sexual desire. And I simultaneously sensed that the audience was with me, was receptive and open to everything I was hoping to impart. It was really a special moment.

And considering that I was a bit anxious heading into this event (because it was my first public book-signing), the fact that I had such a great time in the moment means I can use that experience to talk myself out of future nervousness. Call it self soothing.

Clearly, I’m a novice  in the world of retail marketing, so I have much to learn. But when a Girl Scout cookie badge marks your sales success up till now, you take your small victories where you can!

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Job = life?

January 24, 2010

File this under realizations that don’t come to you when you have a job.

Quite simply — a job, especially one you like, creates your life for you; without one, you are faced with the opportunity and challenge of creating your own life.

Some people learn this sooner than others; I’m new to the party. Fortunately, I’m old enough and have enough passions, interests and ambitions to start crafting a structured life, but even so, I sometimes feel I’m working with a blank slate. I come from a workplace littered with distractions, deadlines, drama and delight. Now I’m facing the essentially solitary task of writing a book. There is no built-in start time each morning, no “first interview” of the day, no weekly deadlines — just one long project to write and a boatload of life chores that threatens to capsize my sanity some days. (I’m only 8 weeks post retirement and wondering where I previously found the time for all the busy work that sucks up my attention day after day.)

I’ve also discovered that once you say no to full-time work, you can actually say yes to just about everything else. For example, I now have the capability of traveling to China to teach English as a second language, training to be a vet tech, moving to Australia to become a jillaroo or doing manual labor at a garden shop. I could work at a gym, move back to Texas, hire onto a boat bound for anywhere, become a carpenter’s apprentice, beg my former employers to take me back or bum off various family members. See what I mean? When one door closes, every window in the place is suddenly open wide. I now have to choose exactly what I want to do because the job is no longer eliminating every other possibility.

Which is why I find myself creating a brand-new life — right here, right now — and it’s as exciting, daunting and fascinating as you’d expect. And despite all the tempting roads I travel in my mind’s eye, leading to various scenarios and lives I could lead, for now, the path I’ll travel is the one I chose before I even left my career. One that hopefully leads to me being a published author.

So — for the foreseeable future — find me (still) at my desk!

A space . . . created

January 9, 2010

So it’s been a while between postings, but there was the whole Texas, Christmas, snow, family, New Year’s, friends, airport thing to tend to.

I had many adventures during my 16 days away, some of which I may blog about later, but for right now, I have actual progress to report. Yes, I realize it’s about time. But it’s big news!  I have located and rented a place to write. This has become necessary because our house is for sale and will not tolerate the persistent mess I am required to make as I dig through the surveys we’ve gathered for the book, spread research books around me and just generally take up a whole room with creative artist’s sprawl.

Sure, I’ve read dozens of stories of fabulous people writing fabulous books with no sprawl space and no computer and little food and whatever other hardships can be conjured. I’m fully aware that good prose doesn’t require a big desk or a bit of solitude.

But a wonderful couple I know recently moved from a third-floor condo into their first home, and the condo has been empty for several months. We struck a deal for me to hang out there days, making a fine mess, finding a bit of solitude and getting comfortable with my writerly self. It’s close to the water, so it’ll be great for walks, and even has a porch area out back where I could carry my laptop. Naturally, it’s unfurnished, and while I have a book shelf and an excellent, recently-purchased office chair, the one thing I really needed was a desk of some kind. I knew the place was right for me when my friends, just before leading me into the condo, reluctantly told me that the one piece of furniture left behind (because they just couldn’t find a place for it at the new house) was a big desk. Was that a problem?

Well no it isn’t! Where do I sign?

I’m up late tonight because I have a bit of excess energy I won’t be able to burn off till tomorrow. See, in a few hours Paint Day begins, and I’m pathetically eager to show up with rollers and masking tape and grubby clothes. We’re going to turn the walls pale yellow—I got to choose!—and I’ll finally be doing something to bring the book closer. Having a physical task that will help create the space I’m longing for has me chomping at the bit.

By tomorrow night I’ll undoubtedly be exhausted and sore, but believe me, it’s gonna be that happy-tired feeling, the one that makes you sleep deep and peaceful.

Finding space to write

December 11, 2009

So I’m talking to my therapist today — and yes, I’m fully aware of how pretentious that sounds, but honestly, she’s the sanity I cling to lately to help me navigate the churning sea of change that is my life. So bear with me a moment before you deafen me with the sound of your rolling eyes.

I’m explaining to her how although I AM making progress on my “to do” list, I’m fairly  frantic about how long the list is and how slowly I’m moving through it. “I need to be working on the book every day but I’m just up to here,” I say, demonstrating by holding my open hand up to my forehead, palm down.

Ever calm, she holds her two fingers about an inch apart and sweeps them across her forehead remarking, “It’s hard to write from this space.”

And immediately I get it. I not going to be able to write from a tight, frantic, bundled state of mind. I need an expansive, creative, open mind (an invaluable prerequisite for any new undertaking come to think of it). And reaching that state means I have preparation work to do; contacts to make, a new apartment to find, an entire move to execute probably within the next month or so, computer and printer to hook up, boxes to unpack, beds (both literal and figurative) to make. In addition, I have to create a permanent work space, hopefully with everything I’ll need close at hand.

And that’s all OK. I have 9 months to get the bulk of my book written and though I originally assumed that meant I needed to work a certain amount of hours each day, I recently realized I don’t actually know the process that’s going to lead to me writing this book. I might spend an entire week writing 12 hours a day; I might spend a month and never leave the house and write furiously. I might write for 2 days and not write for a week. I might do this a milion ways. The point is: That process is yet to be determined. Which is also just fine.

What I know for sure — to borrow an Oprah expression — is that there is no part of me that doesn’t want to write this book. I am 100% engaged by the idea and subject matter. Every time I talk about it I get excited all over again and feel lucky to have such a project.

In fact, my therapist noted that part of this transition from journalist to writer is internal, but another part is the mirroring process — where we show the world our ‘new’ self and then gauge its reaction, adjusting our own image as we go. The conversations I’m having with people who are accepting me as a writer, validating the idea, commenting on the process and even soliciting my advice for THEIR books (that’s already happened!) these are the things that help create in me the expansive mindspace that will make it possible to write the book.

So I’m not panicky anymore. I don’t feel “up to here,” though I’m still wading through my to-do list. I’m trying to accept that this is the process. I can’t do Step 8 before Steps 1 and 2. There’s a time element here I need to respect.

And that’s hard.

But I’m learning.