Monkees: next Saturday, July 30th is my Sister’s wedding day.
I can’t write about that yet. I’m just . . . you know . . . AAAAAHHHH. I am both screaming and silent about it.
I am going to sign off until after the wedding, so that I can be still and focus and pray and just be present for this sacred time. I need some time to really prepare, now that all the preparations are made.
But before I sign off I must fulfill a promise I made to you, which was to update you about the book.
A long time ago, the editor of my first book read Momastery and told me that this new writing I was doing was good. He said that I could probably get it published. He also said he’d help me with that, so I became excited. But then he fell off the face of the Earth. So I had to decide if I should pursue getting an agent on my own. I was tempted to try, because I’ve always loved the idea of being dog-eared and highlighted on people’s nightstands.
But actively seeking out an agent seemed quite ambitious. I am suspicious of ambition. Not of hard work, but of ambition. They seem like very different things to me. To me, hard work is what you do as a response to a calling. I work very, very hard on my writing. But ambition seems a little different. Ambition seems like the desire to get a certain type of recognition or credit for that hard work. Maybe an ultimately un-fulfilling and even dangerous kind of recognition, like extra money or power or attention. Ambition just seems a little off to me. Ambition seems like the desire to legitimize oneself. And people and their efforts are always already legitimate. And so ambition just seems sort of unnecessary to me, like maybe it’s not the best use of one’s time and energy.
To be clear: I have plenty of selfish ambition in me… probably more than the average bear….but I try to keep a close eye on it. I try to keep it in check. Because I don’t trust ambition.
So Craig and I talked a lot about the difference between hard work and ambition. We talked about my dream and calling . . . which is to be an honest writer. To use my unique experiences and perspectives and gentleness to touch other people. And so we had to admit that God had already fulfilled that dream, since that is what happens every single day at Momastery.
And we decided that sometimes life is about knowing a good thing when you have it. And not looking past it for more, better, different.
And we decided that we never wanted my readers to feel like means to an end. We didn’t want the blog to become a stepping stone to a book. Because this blog is magic all on its own. It is the fulfillment of a dream, not an avenue towards a bigger and better one. So we decided to be content. To set aside ambition and keep working hard on my writing. To not get distracted by shiny things. To not seek out an agent. But we also agreed that if we got a clear invitation to approach an agent, we would.
We got a clear invitation a few months ago. Like slap-you-upside-the-head-clear. So Sister and Husband and I worked for weeks putting our best Momastery essays together and sending it off to this one particular agent. And then we waited.
Here is what I thought would happen:
I thought that after a couple of weeks, I would receive a phone call from this agent.
I thought that he would start our conversation by announcing that his wife and everyone in his office had stayed up for three straight nights reading my manuscript. And then he would pause and say that he had waited his entire career for ME. For MY WRITING. I thought he might add that it was the best writing in the history of the entire world. I thought he would tell me that he had purchased three plane tickets so that Sister, Husband and I could fly to California and meet with him. He would quickly add that we’d need to come immediately because my manuscript was actually perfect and so it had already been sent to the presses. Our book, Momastery, would hit the book stores tomorrow. I would need to prepare immediately for an international book tour. He had purchased Oprah’s private jet for us. The jet was Theo friendly, of course.
The following week our book, Momastery, would hit #1 on the Bestseller List. Ellen would call me on the jet. She would explain that she and Portia had just finished reading Momastery and she would implore me to come on her show immediately. I would pause dramatically and then say, “NOT WITHOUT MY MONKEES,” and Ellen would say, of course, no problem, she’d taken care of that. Her staff had already sent plane tickets to all 995 Monkees and so you would all be in the studio with me (they’d built a bigger studio just for this occasion). With this news, I would agree to come.
On the show, people from all over the world would come to announce that Momastery Had Changed Their Lives Forever And Ever Amen. President Obama would announce via satellite that since Momastery had been released, the international crime rate had dropped 100 percent. He would add that thousands of long lost families had been reunited and that there were no more middle school or high school or neighborhood cliques and no one on Earth felt left out or lonely anymore, ever. Also, everyone had gotten sober and all of a sudden there were no more bullies. Representatives from the UN and the Betty Ford Clinic and GLAAD would appear on the show and explain that they all used Momastery for their monthly book club. And also the Dalai Lama and the Pope and Muslim leaders would show up holding hands and singing LEAN ON ME. And then some terrorists from every religion would come and hug us all and promise that after reading Momastery, they’d finally agreed to cut it out, already.
And then, Ellen would say, we have a little surprise for you, G….and we would all look up with big eyes and ANNE LAMOTT would walk onto the stage holding my teeny tiny adopted son. And then Tisha would come out holding another teeny tiny one. Because, obviously, THE UNIVERSE was just joking!!!! OF COURSE the adoption went through!! TWINS!!!
And all the Monkees would laugh and cry and jump and hug and it would be the best moment in the history of moments. And then Ellen would point to the Monkees and say: . . . SURPRISE! An orphan for YOU! And for YOU! And for YOU and YOU and YOU!!!! And everyone in the audience and then the whole country would open their homes to an orphan and the orphan crisis would be solved real quick!!!
This was all just a fleeting thought, it’s not like I lay in bed planning this in detail or anything.
And obviously, I planned to very humble about all of it.
Like one of my favorite poems:
Dilemma – by anonymous
I want to be famous
so I can be humble
about being famous
What good is my humility
when I’m stuck
in this obscurity?
Anyway – I want to be clear that I was not joking about that Ellen thing. I actually thought that was going to happen. I believed it. I even told Sister that she should probably quit her job so I could hire her to hang out with me on the jet.
For some reason, I always think something RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING is about to happen.
Craig discovered this the first time we ever bought a lottery ticket together. We sat in front of the TV waiting for the numbers. We lost. I was shocked. I was devastated. I was SURE we were going to win. Craig was surprised by my sadness. He said, “Honey. You know our chances were, like, One in 1 bazillion, right?” But numbers mean nothing to me. I always really believe we’re going to beat the odds. And I feel betrayed when we don’t.
So anyway, this is what actually happened with the agent:
His assistant wrote me an email that said, “No thanks. We can’t take unsolicited manuscripts. Good luck elsewhere.”
I’m still not sure if this means that the agent didn’t even read it, or he read it and hated it. I choose to believe the former, because it hurts my feelings less.
Regardless, the bottom line is that things didn’t go EXACTLY as I’d hoped and planned.
When I told Craig that I was going to write to you about this little rejection he said, “Really? Why don’t you ever wait till something happens? Everything on the blog is so anticlimactic…the adoption never happens, the book never happens. Why do you need to write about it?”
I actually think maybe he felt a little embarrassed about it all. I understood.
But I said to him: HEY, MISTER.
My job at Momastery isn’t to be fabulous and successful, whatever that means. My job is to keep showing up and keep telling the truth.
Life is weird and hard and never really turns out the way we dream it up. But that’s okay. I still love and trust Life. I trust that whatever I get is exactly what I need. Maybe I don’t need a book deal. Maybe if I became wildly rich and famous I would turn into a diva and wear boas and appear on Dancing with the Stars and start drinking martinis and divorce you for George Clooney. Maybe I’d screw everything up. I wouldn’t put it past me. Happens all the time, you know. Worldly success is MUCH more dangerous than failure. A girl can trust failure. I’ve never experienced a failure that didn’t make me better, eventually.
Maybe I don’t have a book deal but I have hundreds of Monkees who actually want to read what I write and count on me to accept and tell them the truth, even when it looks, on the surface, like failure. Maybe especially then. This is the important stuff, the real stuff. Of COURSE I’m telling them.
Obviously, he’d stopped listening after HEY, MISTER, but I felt much better.
So anyway- we’re not going to be famous yet, Monkees. I’m sorry. I tried. I’m done being ambitious for awhile. It is very tiring. But I will continue to work hard.
And we must remember that we always already have what we need. At Momastery we have a safe place to laugh and cry and think and practice truth and gentleness and peace with ourselves and others.
I shall be back after next weekend. With wedding pictures and stories galore. Please send prayers and vibes and all sorts of good energy to Sister and John.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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