I’ve been wanting to share what it was like to create Prayers of Honoring, because I know so many of you are talented wordsmiths with incredible, change-making ideas which deserve to be heard by others. The world is hungry for voices and yours is unique, especially when you let the parts of yourself out which you’ve been holding in reserve.
Here’s a little chronology of how it all went down:
August 2013: I took a workshop with this brilliant woman to unearth who I was as a writer and understand what I am here to say.
January 2014: Writing the prayers began on the New Year with blog posts I wrote mostly on Sundays. It was my practice of speaking my heart and sharing my quiet voice with the world. It was a vulnerable process inviting people to hear what it sounded like when I talked to Creator, the Earth, the Sky, ancestors and spirits. It became quickly apparent that prayer was something many folks didn’t know how to do in a way which felt real and true. The scars of religious upbringings left some feeling disconnected and avoidant.
Early 2015: Friends and readers became more persistent, asking if I could collect the prayers I’d written into a collection and I felt very resistant. I’d already been through several unfinished processes of proposal and it wasn’t for me: Too many signatures. Too many fears about losing my content. Too many unknowns around the anticipated success and what ifs. Too much to let go of if it didn’t do as well as they needed it to. Too many concerns about where it would be printed, on what, and how much fuel it would take to transport it to it’s destinations. Too many nightmares of my book sitting on the red-line shelf at Barnes and Noble, keeping company with discounted coffee table books and cheap reprints of the classics. I keep writing prayers and waiting for more to be revealed. I took this course to learn about all of my options from someone who is always ahead of the curve.
March 2015: I sat in a circle surrounded by supportive women and asked for help. Any kind of help. My work life teaching courses and holding circles had become unmanageable and it was time to spread out and hire folks to do the things I didn’t do well and no longer wanted to do. My ex-husband had moved out and I was about to move across a new state alone with my children to a place where I knew…not a soul except for my real estate agent. Help raises her hand.
May 2015: With Twozdai’s help and infinite patience, we designed a format. We found a printer, who turned out to be adequate for the first printing and awful for the next two. We approved fonts and titles, and had a cover photo taken by another goddess of a woman willing to help (and who also designed this website).
June 2015: The midwives and I birthed the first edition of Prayers just in time to slip copies into the goodie bags of the attendees of SouLodge Medicine Gathering! It was an exciting week. By the end of the year, we’d sold over twelve hundred copies through Etsy and my website. Readers sent in personal stories of recovering from prayer trauma and Yoga Union integrated the book into their renown Teacher Training Program.
Christmas 2015: Instant Publisher prints murky covers and our holiday orders are delayed because we have to send them all back to be recovered. We strongly dislike them for this, but particularly because they make zero effort to correct or pay for their mistake in good time. Our order is too small to matter much to them. We cry, moan, text all hours and stay up late. We learn that printing and shipping our own books isn’t efficient. Meanwhile, Elena Brower is reading from the book at Wanderlust Festivals and it’s costing that crowd double the price to ship to Australia and U.K. More heartstorming solutions for this little book which is asking for wings.
Why, you might ask, did we wait to buy a new, special, pricier ISBN in order to work with one of Amazon’s printers and jump through their hoops? Because it was a lot of work while balancing a family to pioneer something we’d never done! So it took us a while.
March 2016: We open the Pandora’s box that is Amazon/Kindle. The book is 60 pages long, and in order to print the title on the spine we need 100. In a gust of inspiration I decide in the moment to add 40+ pages and include the 4 directions and journal prompts my online students have loved for years, which I’d been holding back (why do we do this to ourselves?). Prayers of Honoring grew on-screen into what it is today, through a rite of passage which couldn’t have been accomplished without it’s many midwives and supporters. I gave myself the opportunity to add Honoring Grief, the one I’d left out in the first edition. I feel reserved about how personal these prayers are to me, but keep sharing them anyway, knowing that they will find their way into the hearts who need to hear them. Working with CreateSpace going smoothly.
April 2016: Almost there! We’re still fine-tuning the listing, ordering *one more* sample and making last second tweaks. I am feeling the gravity of maintaining my publishing, knowing that no one else in the world can make a decision on this book’s behalf but me. No one can take it apart, sell it in pieces, change my words, make it a vehicle for their agenda, or in any way defile it. Mystic Mamma graciously shares Honoring Growth at her well-traveled astro-wise site.
May 2016: We press play. We dance. I go back to making dinner instead of putting bowls of random fridge remnants on the counter with a, “Sorry guys… please serve yourselves… mama’s just going to skim this content one more time. Do I sound like Yoda here?”
Late May: The report to date is that Kindle is a bit of a beast. The thing is that if you don’t figure out where to put your book, no one can find it. There are categories which are great fits, but if you self-publish, you don’t have access to all of them (at least we haven’t found them yet). There are keywords and whole books and blogs dedicated to cracking the Amazon code, none of which I’m that interested in reading! There are still hurdles to leap and I’m still practicing various forms of avoidance.
Self-publishing is changing the way we interact with written content, as well as create it. I’ve gone about writing in the same way I ran the lemonade stands of my youth: a grass roots, dirty-knees, learn-by-doing kinda gal. There are sacrifices and choices I’m too stubborn to make. It takes me years to do what others do in months. What I can say is that I’ve done it in my voice on my timeline. The desire to maintain the rights to my words comes from the artist in me. Self-publishing, might mean less money, but it’s far less emotional stress for me, and I can evolve the content when I feel moved to.