Learning to be patient
In The Meditation Challenge part one, I told you how mindfulness meditation helped to still my mind so that I could stop fretting about the approval of a literary agent and instead focus on writing my best work. If you are having a go at meditation to help you manage similar anxieties, I would love to hear from you.
I knew, in my heart of hearts, that if this draft of my novel didn’t meet with my agent’s expectation then we might well be saying goodbye. I should add here, that whilst I had been working with an agent for over a year, I hadn’t actually signed a contract, or met her, or even spoken on the phone, although her in-house editor did have a very helpful phone conversation with me early on in the process. This agent is one of the best, many of the authors she represents are international bestsellers. Her agency was growing and changing. It’s no wonder that she could spare me little time and was slow in replying to emails.
Writer friends cautioned me but I was willing to accept these terms as I was gaining a lot from the editorial comments on each draft of my manuscript. In my head, I likened it to dating. The same feelings of excitement and apprehension as I waited impatiently for her reply.
I needed meditation more than ever. By now, I had progressed to longer meditations. I particularly liked:
- The Honest Guys www.thehonestguys.co.uk guided meditations on YouTube. The Blissful deep relaxation one, is very calming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jyy0ra2WcQQ
- And Tara Brach www.tarabrach.com Try, Resting in a Sea of Presence
If that one thing would happen – my life would be different.
Tara Brach www.tarabrach.com generously shares hour-long seminars on meditation practice. I would listen to these whilst ironing or making the evening meal, headphones on. In one of these seminars she said something that struck a chord with me. I’m sorry but I can’t remember which one it was. Anyway, it was something like this:
We believe that if this one thing would happen, maybe meet the right man/woman, get a promotion, or in my case get published, that everything in our world will be better. We give this monumental importance. Just as we do in fearing something really bad. But, when this ‘thing’ actually happens it’s just a blip up or down in our state of being. Think about it – that job you finally got, getting pregnant, meeting the man or woman of your dreams. Or, the bad stuff, being made redundant, having your manuscript rejected. There’s a short period of euphoria or depression and then life resumes. It doesn’t change everything.
I have just discovered Daniel Nussbaummüller’s blog https://embraze.org/how-our-thoughts-make-us-suffer/on Thoughts Make You Suffer, says a similar thing.
So, when my agent responded in May to say that she loved the changes that I had made to my manuscript and with just a couple of tweaks, she would be excited to send it out to publishing editors, I was of course thrilled. My journal reads, ‘It has finally happened. I have reached a milestone – jumped a hurdle. My novel is to be sent out to publishers and an amazing agent wants to represent me.’ I checked that she really was my agent, just in case I had been deceiving myself, and she confirmed that she was. I told my writer friends on Facebook, did the edits and sent it back. My agent said that she would send me her marketing strategy and so I waited.
I don’t know whether it was Tara Brach’s influence or my meditation practice but I was very calm. I think as writer’s we take tiny steps. I imagine us all hiking up a mountain, the path curving around and upward, like a spiral. Each step is small, it’s only when you look down that you see just how far you have come.
Maybe, it’s watching or reading about drama’s, great personal success stories, that we crave the elation of those dizzying heights. The reality is, change is more often gradual. But that doesn’t make for a sensational story.
Meditation to help generate new ideas
Whilst sending off each rewrite of my novel and waiting for my agent’s response, I had gone back to two of my unpublished novels trying to rework them in readiness for my agent’s approval. That was before I started my meditation challenge and it hadn’t gone well as I was just too critical of my work. I was afraid that I didn’t have anything else to offer. Now, with the benefit of meditation, my mind was more open to new ideas.
I did this creativity meditation several times. On one occasion, I did it before going to bed. At around four in the morning, I woke up with so many ideas, I jumped out of bed and wrote them down. My second novel came to me so fast I couldn’t stop writing. I forgot to worry about not receiving a publishing plan from my agent. Until July when I prompted her.
In next week’s blog I will tell you how meditation helped me to manage my expectations and anxiety when my novel was out on submission ie. being considered by publishers.