I swear, I’m truly trying to be more conscious of living in the moment, but to be honest, I’m failing miserably at it. The carousel is spinning so fast my surroundings blur, and I can’t focus. Not only is it difficult to stop to smell the proverbial roses, I can’t seem to slow down long enough to get the damn rosebush planted. And I mean that literally.
Now, I’m not letting myself off the hook, but I don’t think I’m alone here. Raise your hand if you feel like you’ve become too accustomed to moving through life at warp speed, and it doesn’t matter whether that pattern is an ingrained personal practice or a reaction to outside pressures. Like Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory, stuffing chocolate after chocolate into her mouth, we often fail to savor the moment we are in before mentally rushing on to the next.
This runaway train of thought pushed me off the tracks while I was signing a book. Almost the first question I get asked is, “What’s next? What are you working on now?” It’s a polite, innocuous question, right? It’s one I have asked. But when directed at me, I almost break out in a cold sweat.
“What’s next?” Bloody hell, damned if I know. The truth is I’m still figuring things out, trying to wear the author mantle with style and aplomb rather than novice awkwardness. Any confidence I exude is a total smokescreen, easily dissipated.
I have, though, had some time to reflect on the “what are you working on now?” question, so I will tell you this: rather than working on new writing, I’m busy switching chapeaus. In today’s publishing environment, an author is required to wear multiple hats, including those of promotions and marketing expert, neither of which fit comfortably on my head. I find that instead of writing, I’m trying to wade through the deep pond an ocean) of gaining exposure for Dancing Between the Beats. I've learned to stand up in front of a room and read aloud, hoping that, when I look up, the room hasn’t collectively dozed off. I’ve also donned the cloak of the annoying doorbell-ringing peddler, nudging my readers to write reviews, spread the word, ask their local library or bookstore to carry copies, and post pictures on their social media accounts. Sheesh. Trust me when I say that this cloak weighs heavy on the shoulders of a somewhat reclusive writer.
The upside is that the stress of the promotions learning curve is more than balanced by the deep satisfaction of knowing my book is actually being read. I am deeply grateful for each and every book sale, every review, and every positive comment. Gratitude slides me into low gear long enough to pause, breathe, and enjoy the moment. But then, of course, my mind meanders off into “what’s next”, and I ponder whether to work on Book Two or retire quietly to my garden and the relative obscurity of writing blog posts.
Just so you know, I ran “what’s next” by the two dogs sitting by my feet, and I got a decisive, tail wagging, toe-nail tapping, full-voice “dinner, dinner, dinner." Dogs live definitely and joyously in the moment. Maybe it’s time for this human to pay attention and take a page out of their playbook. "Wine, dinner, wine, wine....treat!"