Updated: Jan 20
I have been asked a lot of questions about the process of writing two books in a year and thought I would give you some insight to the how's and why's that brought me to write two very different books - one traditionally published and another self-published.
1. Why have you decided to self-publish your book of poetry when you have another book being traditionally published at the end of the year?
To me, life is about trying everything. I truly believe you can't have certainty in anything - unless you have tried all options within your power. Anyone who is interested in publishing anything these days knows the vast, and often merry-go-round of information about both traditional and self-publishing options. There are valid reasons for benefitting from both - but how do you know which one will work for you as an individual if you don't try both?
I am an entrepreneurial-minded person - so I wanted to have full control of the poetry book and its illustrations. I wanted the soul-creation of it to stay intact - while the non-fiction book will benefit from others’ skill sets such as line and copy editing.
2. How did you get a traditionally published deal as a first time Author?
Determination and openness. I was shifting my life as I wrote the first book from working in the fashion industry to becoming a fully independent Author, and I used every critique, every disappointing response, every unwanted comment about the book as a learning curve.
I split myself into two - One side of me was an artist, a creative and deeply involved in the process of research and writing - the other part of me became third person to the business side of writing. I was detached and almost saw emailing manuscripts, talking with publishers, responding to advice etc as if I was an agent for someone else.
On the practical side of getting a deal - I approached only a select few houses that I knew had the right audience for the book. They were much more open to non-agented authors in non-fiction, so the genre also helped me. I was determined not to get an agent and not to give up before I had a contract in my hand. I got three contracts in the end and chose the publishing house that would be able to get my message out to as many of my target audience as possible.
On the spiritual side of getting a deal - I sent the book out on a full moon, no joke. I had been manifesting this outcome for the 8 months I was writing the book. I didn't watch, listen, read anything other than what would help me get a book deal - and I never read about how hard it is to get one - because we all know that already.
On the physical/psychological side of getting a book deal - I ran every morning - I meditated every day - I checked in with myself and aligned with the greater message I wanted to share with people - I went completely off social media - I focussed on my family and moments of self-care so that if I didn't get a book deal - I wouldn't have given myself, or them up for nothing.
3. How did you manage writing a 70k word non-fiction book and an illustrated poetry book in 1 year - while being a mother of young children?
Madness. It helps. A lot.
I gave myself 8 months to write and get a publishing contract - I had just quit my job and the combination of passion and pressure gave me the right combination of motivation. I created a plan for every day and stuck to it. Mindfulness was my saviour. When I picked up the children, I was WITH them and when I worked, I gave it everything I had. I kept high-vibe about everything I put into the books and never wrote when I was tired or uninspired.
My mornings were PROactice and evenings were REactive.
This meant I woke at 5 am and wrote for 2 hours before getting the kids ready for school/daycare. After dropping them off ( my daughter only goes in 3 days a week), I ran 5 kms and listened to motivational podcasts. I meditated just before getting back into writing. I wrote 2000 words a day as a target. When I picked up the kids 5 hours later and until they were in bed, I truly let myself relax and be mindful with them. After bedtime, I would read books that inspired my own genre and went to bed really early. The weekends were ours as a family and I never worked at night.
Enduring, unsocial, isolating - yes.
Incredibly productive - absolutely.
4. Your poetry book, Healing HER - How can you compete with the likes of Rapi Kuar and other 'Instagram Poets'?
I believe poets are not competitors but companions - and those who have that approach are being true to their art.
My poetry comes from my unique life, just as any poet. I have the psychological makeup of madness, which mixes well with creativity - and for me the written word has always held a potency like no other art form I know.
To me, my expression is not melding modern slang against themselves, their politicians or their society - but the rising up through self-empowerment that then make up the power of the collective conscious. My poetry is emotion-based - and emotions are what rules our entire life. Everything we are motivated towards is an emotion. Our tangible wants are really the desire to FEEL something good.
So, I don't write about depression - but how to get yourself out of it - because I know intimately the suffering it brings to you and others.
I don't write about hurt, pain, ancestral wounds, loss - but how to revive yourself from those experiences - because I know how deeply those afflictions can tear away weeks, months, years from your precious life.
I don't wish my readers to associate with the emotions that got them into their state - but align with the emotions that help heal and create new ways of seeing their world. It's an awakening - and that is what separates my work.
I love the work of those who give a voice to those who cannot literate their own emotions - But I also believe there needs to be a voice that expresses how to grow through these difficult times, not just be a witness to them.
This is my mission and why I believe poetry is so self-empowering ... it's literally condensed behavioural therapy.
5. How have you had the energy to do all of this?
When I worked full time in Scandinavia's largest fashion company as a designer and then marketing manager - I was exhausted. Not just tired - but I would pick my son up as the last child in daycare and crumble into a heap of heaviness as soon as I got home. I felt like Golem, literally the shrivelled up, bent over version of myself.
I ate whatever I could fry/oven/burn in 10 minutes and I numbed out in front of a whole lot of t.v. I went to bed late and woke up tired. Rinse, repeat. Day in, day out. For 3 years. I never felt like I had energy-giving excuses like 'This is motherhood - it's supposed to be like this' - Or 'This is what it takes to work in the fashion industry - It's just how it is'.
I took loads of vitamins - thought I had an iron deficiency or some unidentifiable illness that was slowly condensing me into a stress-pulp. I drank wine at the weekends, sometimes on a weekday...often on a weekday - and that made me feel more exhausted.
I look back at how I used to live and see one big worn-out, tired, shadow of who I really was.
I realised at my hardest part of life that my energy was being tapped out into unfulfilling places and my exhaustion was not a 'part of life' like everyone kept telling me - but that it was a signal of being very far off from my best life. Mediocre seems to be the cause of exhaustion.
I began running when I was at my most exhausted. And started feeling more energised. I learnt (and I literally needed to learn) how to run a few km's after work and I began to beat out the office mentally into the sidewalks.
This gave me a little more energy to read at night - so I started reading my Buddhist books again and learnt detachment, compassion, non-duality - which helped me survive in the work-place.
This then gave me the distance to look at my work as it really was - soul-draining and a paradox to the values I held for myself and my family. So I quit.
This gave me the passion and ignited the ever-burning power of soul-driven energy to create work that is truly meaningful to me and has the possibility to help others.
I have never had so much energy in my life as now. Being tired is a lifestyle - I am the energiser bunny version of who I used to be because of this change in diet...and not just in terms of food, but the mental, social, workplace, friendship diet that is clean, meaningful and wholesome.
Incremental steps in aligning with what feels good again - is the key to heal every type of exhaustion.
6. What was the biggest cause of your own suffering - and what lead you to write a book about healing?
I have come to see that all types of suffering actually come from oneself. Situations that occur in life can always have two outcomes; to weaken you and justify your way of thinking or, to empower you with a new mindset. Most of my suffering was because I chose to justify a belief that I was lost, lonely and not able to find contentment with my life. The moment I decided to be fully intentional with my life was the moment I realised that I could validate all kinds of other positive stories about myself like, I am resilient, independent and creative. So, living with emotional suffering sometimes causes us to live within the stories we tell ourselves - and to break away is to become responsible for our attitudes. This is why I write intentional poetry - because it has an intention to heal, not to 'just' be a witness to pain.
7. Why do you have flower illustrations in the poetry book?
My mother is a floral artist, and as a child, she would hang-dry big bunches of flowers up in out garage hanger, so she could create art pieces for hotels in Southern Africa. My early life revolved around helping my mother dip-dye flowers (the white flowers were always cheaper than coloured ones so she would bulk-buy them...) and spreading all the colourful bunches on the dry ground outside our farmhouse. The dye would stain my hands, my clothes and the ground, so everything looked like an art installation.
I love the feminine qualities of flowers, their ability to give life to a bare room, and how they represent forgiveness and love. Flowers are part of my history and remind me of how much my mother went through in her life to make the artistic empire she has today.
8. What is the next book in the series going to be about?
I am so excited that this is a series- I have called it the Soul-Skin series because there are many resonances to the way we heal. One way is through the feminine super-power of allowing, nurturing and creativity - but there are other energies that heal too, and that is my intention; to provide the complete guide to all healing energies through this series of poetry.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any more questions or if you would like to learn how to write your own healing poetry! I run an online healing poetry workshop which you can join for free. Just SUBSCRIBE to the mailing list on the bottom and I will be in touch.
READ ABOUT THE MOTHERHOOD, SPIRITUALITY & LONELINESS HERE...