It happened. I heard the words from my publishers’ mouth. That thing that no writer (or person whoever you are) wants to hear, ‘your book is underperforming’. My heart sunk, my breath shallowed, and I felt tears welling in my eyes.
Writing a book is tough (anything you put your heart and soul into really is) and through my two year journey writing, I experienced every challenge you could possibly think of, including losing my only sibling (my brother, 38) but through it all, I did it. I wrote a book. A book both myself and publisher were (are) confident was (is) great.
As the process went on, from editing, to cover (which was effortless) to the creation of a campaign to spread the word (which was in alignment with who I am) I/we had the confidence that this message was well written, absolutely needed, and would be well received. And, like a confident, prize winning horse ready to take on the track, we were off, and off to a great start. My launch was packed, my first interview incredible, and the energy in the room more magical than I had ever experienced.
The only setback I had received this far was disappointment over the absence of people that were ‘in the stands’ to support me. For almost a decade I had supported the careers of hundreds of teachers and authors (many of them famous and bestsellers), and when I reached out for help… a very small handful offered it. But I marched on… confident I could go it alone.
Until the call, until I heard the words ‘your book is underperforming’…
I relapsed. I fell to my bed, pulled up the covers and started my Netflix binge of ‘Emotional Dramas’. Watching the stories of lessons learn from life’s darkest experiences. And then turning inward to reflect on my own journey and the path(s) before me. What was I to do?
Do I give up?
Do I take the path mapped out? (the typical self-help circuit)
Do I ‘Be Still and Know’ Chapter One in my book (after all it is popular belief that the books we write are the wisdom we need)
Most who know me know that (and I’ve written about it extensively) I do not like the path already mapped out. Especially at this point in my journey. I have left it behind. And although resistance would have me given up. I know deep in my heart it’s not an option. That this was yet another challenge, another lesson and that if I plunged into it with radical authenticity. The answer(s) would reveal themselves.
And so, within days. It did…
I had been invited by a friend for a drink at a local pub who mentioned there was a couple who would be joining us (who I did not know). My anxiety kicked in (which most don’t think I have because I don’t let it defeat me) and when it kicks in, it’s right to the washroom (every time) and as I sat there sick, my belly in knots, my mind racing between’ “do I take a deep breathe, wipe this shit off, and go”, or “do I come up with another excuse not to”. And of course, as in most cases, I took a deep breath and went…
And man, am I ever glad I did. The couple I met were not from around here, they had grown up in another country and recently moved here (I’m going to be vague for the purpose of anonymity) and throughout the night as I learned more about their story I began to lean in. The husband had recently lost his best friend to suicide and had spent the last few months secluded in a deep depression wanting to do the same. As the evening progressed, I shared my own story (as I share in my book) of attempted suicide and what perspective saved my life. I didn’t hear it in these words then, but I would later hear them spoken by my husband, “Don’t kill yourself, kill the life that’s killing you”, and in both our cases it was a life of inauthenticity.
Literally we were killing ourselves to become what we were conditioned to be. And in some way, on whatever scale, I think we all are. And in a very big way this was a poignant reminder of why I wrote the book; as both a reminder to myself, and a gift to whoever reads it.
And so, as it may sound like a self-help cliché; Out of the darkness a light was born.
In this case, through a very powerful reminder of my purpose, and through the connection I made with a kindred soul. Had we not crossed paths; our worlds might look a little different today. And so, the two of us step on today’s new path, me with a reminder and him with a new awareness; the importance of connection, of sharing our stories and of supporting each other in choosing the path that’s radically authentic along the way.
So, is my book underperforming?
The dictionary definition of performing is to carry out, accomplish, or fulfill (an action, task, or function).
And so, by this definition (and my new awareness), my book is performing quite well. In my own life, in the lives of those who’ve touched its pages, listened to it words, and experienced its wisdom with and through me.