Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I’ve now been back for two and a half weeks and have not spent any substantial time writing. I’ve been busily (and very happily) preoccupied with a lot of other things on and around the island. When I told Hugh that I wanted to spend time this spring and summer with him on the island, I told him that I needed spend about four hours a day writing my next book. My idea was that since I wouldn’t be in the office making money by seeing clients I needed some way to justify not making an income; or at least be productive in some manner that might eventually create some income.
When I did my two CranioSacral Therapy certifications, I “took time off” to do them. I scheduled myself out of the office and into my home’s basement office to work on the requisite 12 essays for the first certification and 15 essays and 5 case studies for the second certification. I knew that I’d wind up like everyone else I had talked with if I didn’t “schedule it.” I have many friends whose essay questions have sat on their desks for the last two, five or even seven years, waiting for a “roundtoit” to show up. I knew that the only way I would get my certifications done in a timely manner was if I set aside a specific day of the week and did nothing else, well almost nothing else, except my essays.
It worked. What normally takes people a couple of years to do the first Techniques certification, took me a year. I was able to avoid the mental games of “Oh, I’ll do it tonight” or “I’ll work on it a bit this weekend.” There are always much better things to do – grocery shopping, laundry, go out to eat, see a movie, read that neat book I just got, etc. I was proud of myself, rightly so, that I was able to discipline myself to sit down, open the books and start writing. When I completed my first certification I immediately began the second, the Diplomate certification. This was more intensive as I had to do 15 essays and five case studies plus write an article for publication.
For the Diplomate exam I applied the same discipline. I saw no clients on Thursdays, only my business networking marketing meeting and working on my certification exam. In less than a year I had completed it. I had justified the time out of the office with the reasoning that I was improving my education, which I was, and I would be obtaining credentials that not many therapists ever obtain. These credentials would then designate me an expert. I lived in Wisconsin at the time of doing these certifications. Of approximately 1100 therapists in Wisconsin trained in any level of CranioSacral Therapy, there were only about 11 therapists with the Techniques certification. There were no therapists at the Diplomate level of certification, until I completed mine.
When I moved to Maryland a couple years later I found similar statistics. Of approximately 900 therapists, 5 were Techniques certified and I was the only Diplomate certified therapist. The time out of the office paid off. When people would search online for an experienced therapist they saw my credentials and called. I have had clients come from a distance of one or two hours away for the expertise that I provide. Okay, enough tooting my own horn about my skills as a therapist — back to my point about time and writing.
When I decided to write my first book, The Insightful Body: Healing with SomaCentric Dialoguing, I knew that I had to apply a similar tact. It would not get written after work hours as I’d want to go biking or dancing or just do nothing. I had to take “a day off” and dedicate it to writing. Mondays became my “writing day.” I also did laundry, grocery shopping and visits to the chiropractor. And I spent about four or five hours each Monday writing and writing and writing.
People ask “How long did it take for you to write your book?”
They are astonished by my response: “Umm…” I then count on my fingers how many months there are from October to February. “Five months.”
I explain how I set aside specific time to write so that I would get the book done. It was easy, even easier than writing my certification essays. As I was nearing the completion of my manuscript I realized that I had at least two more SomaCentric books to write. (I also have the workings of a craniosacral therapy book and two memoirs waiting in the memory of my computer to be completed.) One book would be the client version of The Insightful Body. I recognized that there were many things that I teach clients during their sessions that they later told me were helpful. The other book is to be a second volume to The Insightful Body, as I have much more material to write and teach. My publisher liked the ideas of both additional books.
Last winter when the index of The Insightful Body was completed I continued to not work on Mondays. Monday was still my writing day. But other things began to get in the way. Along with groceries and other errands, there was a two week vacation, holidays, weekly chiropractic treatments or other bodywork sessions (a good therapist practices what she preaches) and “other stuff.” I still don’t know what other stuff kept me so occupied that I had not written much on Body Speak with Me (working title for the layperson book. I am open to suggestions as my publisher doesn’t like it.)
So, when Hugh asked me to spend time in Michigan with him this spring and summer I thought “Great, now I’ll have uninterrupted time to write while he’s working at the sawmill or on other projects.”
“Four hours a day, five days a week for three weeks, then followed by four weeks, I’ll have most of it done within two visits — two months.” I thought to myself.
“Yeah, right! Sure, Julie!” Replies the inner contrarian, who must have known something I didn’t.
On my first visit to Shelter Island in April and May I spent a lot of time doing stuff (cooking, laundry sort of by hand, taking lots of walks, doing photography, doing personal writing of these essays) and some time writing. I was able to get written most of the new material of the book. It was not as much as I had hoped, not even close to the four hours a day that I had told Hugh I needed to do. And I hadn’t gotten any yoga done either.
“Now what fun thing are we going to do?” I’d ask Hugh after meals.
“Well, I don’t want to take you away from your four hours of writing…”
How thoughtful of him to say this and mean it. Yet we both knew after a couple of times of having this exchange that my writing would be secondary to our spending time together. It turned out to be very important time for us to spend together. We worked on various projects around the island, took lots of walks and cooked together. It helped solidify our relationship. We got to know each other in ways that being together in Baltimore hadn’t allowed. The time spent away from my laptop allowed our bond to be strengthened. We both knew that I’d be back for a second visit.
So here I am finally, two and a half weeks after arriving finally writing again. It feels so good to finally be writing. I’ve told myself many times over the last few months that I would love to be able to just write. It would be wonderful to not have to work, seeing clients, to be able to just write — write my SomaCentric and craniosacral books, write the memoir essays that are constantly yammering at me in my head, write about being here on Shelter Island. Don’t get me wrong, I love the therapy work that I do with my clients. It is just that some many times I have a narrative running on high in my head that I think “If only I had uninterrupted time…”
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about writing. I’ve been “asking” for the time to write, yet I haven’t taken advantage of what’s been given to me. Why is that? I’ve been occupied with doing non-writing work around here. I’ve helped to get boats (the sailboat Gypsy Meltdown, the work boat and the little row boat) in the water for the season. We’ve built an extension on the east dock and spent time with daily chores — laundry, general cleaning and cooking. We spent a day “in town.” We did laundry at the laundromat, a little grocery shopping, ate lunch at the local tavern (food wasn’t anything to write home about otherwise you would have heard about it sooner), and spent the afternoon exploring the north side of Drummond Island.
If scraping, sanding, painting and cleaning boats and working in 55 degree water on docks isn’t enough, I’ve also spent a number of hours in the last week working on my taxes. Yes, I procrastinated. Each year I tell myself the next year will be different. I did do the proper thing and filed an extension with an estimated payment for this year. I got them all done today! I’ll send them off on Friday when we go to the Soo. Friday will be a trip to the city. We have interviews to get Nexus passes so we can sail to and from Canadian with minimal paperwork. We’ll get groceries (veggies and other stuff from the health food that aren’t available on Drummond), go to the post office to send off my taxes, and perhaps a few other errands.
Last night I was reading my Poets & Writers magazine while leisurely soaking in the tub. I came across two inspiring articles, one about writing and procrastination and one about editing. Very rarely will I find an article that I feel is worth the cost of the year’s subscription. Last night I found two. They are “tear out and stick to the wall” worthy for writing inspiration.
I love doing all the different things around the house and island that may seem like work. Hugh appreciates my help greatly as he’s never had any help to speak of with the daily work that needs to be done. Yesterday while I was working away on taxes I felt “guilty” that I wasn’t helping him put lathe strips on the house siding. I realized though that he needed me to do my work more than he needed my help. And I COULD be of assistance by making lunch and cleaning up afterwards. That is how I could contribute, work wise, while working on my taxes even though I wasn’t working side-by-side with him.
Yet, I have a constant argument carrying on in my head. Part of me wants to go for a walk with camera in hand and enjoy the sun and calm air of the morning, knowing full well that the next few days will be very mixed weather. “Take advantage of it while you can!”
Another voice pipes up “You’ve got chores to do! There’s breakfast dishes to clean, bed sheets to change, laundry to wash and hang, stairs and walk to sweep. Then it’s lunch time.”
“If you can get an internet signal, which you know you can’t always – you really should send out those emails about your upcoming study group, book talk, SomaCentric Dialoguing class and dissection class. You gotta make money when and where you can. And you need to up date your websites and…” And on and on goes the litany of the list of bodywork/teaching work that needs to be done. I have it all written down so I don’t forget what needs to be done and the voice doesn’t keep talking at me.
“Well you came here to write, so plunk your butt in a chair or the hammock and open up that laptop!”
Each voice is correct and each thing to be done is a procrastination of all the others. How do I find the balance of them? I try to do a little of each and yet it seems like nothing is accomplished, nothing gets crossed off the list or there is nothing to show for the day. Most people would call me a over-achiever, if they don’t already. Sure, I’ve done a lot in the last three years — established a new and thriving practice, made new friends, developed a new therapy system (SomaCentric Dialoguing), teach SCD classes, run a study group for craniosacral therapy, lead craniosacral system anatomy dissection classes, be a teacher’s assistant for various classes and have written a book. Yet, I have so much more that I want to do.
The “biggest” thing that I want to do is write. So now the goal is (there’s the over-achiever talking about goals – lol) to figure out how to make the writing pay. I really believe as great as my book The Insightful Body is, that the next one for the layperson will be even better because the market is larger. Each therapist that buys one therapist book can sell each of their clients the layperson book. I hope Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Phil somehow find out about it, like it and tell everyone to buy and read it.
So here I write and it feels so good to get these words out of my head, but it is the “wrong” book. I’m supposed to be writing Body Speak to Me, or whatever its title will be, not these Shelter Island essays. But it’s these essays and thoughts about being here that inspire me to plunk my butt down and share with you what life here is about.