“Success comes in the middle or not at all. ” – Tama J. Kieves in her book, Inspired & Unstoppable

If you’re a regular reader of my blog posts, you know that several months ago I decided to tune up my voice in order to produce an audition video for The Voice – the singing competition show that opens its audition doors to people of all ages. In another post I told you about a possible book deal I had with a small publishing company in California. Many of you have asked me about the status of both of those projects…thank you so much!…so I’ve decided now is the time for an update.

As you might be able to tell from the title of this post, I’ve not yet reached my destination on either of these creative tracks. And in all truth, that’s okay. It’s more than okay, actually, because both of these experiences are teaching me so much about what it means to be genuinely happy and successful.

In fact, they’re helping me redefine my definition of success. Or even more to the point, they’re helping me realize at ever-deeper levels that I can simply decide to claim success in any moment along the way. It really is about the journey.

I’ll start with the book. I was contacted out of the blue by a small publisher, inquiring about my writing and publishing plans. After a brief flurry of emails and phone calls, I was asked to submit a book outline and sample chapter. Success! My idea was validated as interesting enough to warrant a closer look.

But here’s the thing: the book was just that – an idea in my head and countless pages of teacher notes from classes and workshops I’ve led. I didn’t have a formal outline or sample chapter. So I created them in record time. I was very focused and, dare I say, effortlessly productive. Success! As someone who can dither quite a bit with the blank screen of writer’s block, that was quite an achievement.

Ten days after submitting the outline and chapter, the publisher emailed me with a proposed book contract. They wanted to publish my book. Success! I now had an opportunity to be supported in getting my writing out in the world in a bigger way. Having never signed a book contract before, I asked a friend of mine, who is a very successful published author, to review it, and said a big “Yes!” when another highly-successful-author-friend offered to do the same. More success! I’m blessed to count generous, established authors among the amazing people who care about me.

Both of them offered constructive feedback on the contract, so I contacted the publisher and we began to negotiate. In the meantime, one of those friends offered to introduce my work to a senior editor at the company who published and distributed his bestselling book. I won’t reveal the name of the company, but suffice it to say it is not a small, little-known company. It is a nice, big, juicy one. One that I respect and one that has published many books I love. Success! I have a friend who believes in me enough to make that introduction.

Since the negotiations with the first company had slowed down and I hadn’t yet signed the contract, I took my friend up on his offer. I created a very brief description of the book for him to share with his editor. After reading that and reviewing my website, she said she was interested in my book and invited me to submit – yes, an outline and sample chapter. Success! More validation of my book idea.

Okay, I’ll speed things up a bit here. I revised the outline and sample chapter and sent them in. Then I waited for what seemed like a long time, but in the publishing world it was really the blink of an eye. She contacted me within two weeks. She actually had given my project priority, just as she’d said she would. Success! I was in contact with a talented editor who keeps her word.

This very talented editor, however, did not offer me a book contract. She did offer to speak with me about the reasons why she didn’t. And so we talked on the phone for over 40 minutes, during which time I got an inside peek at how major publishing houses make decisions. And…she invited me to resubmit the proposal. Success! This very talented editor, at a publishing house I respect, is willing to keep the door open for me.

That’s where things stand now. I have yet to rework the proposal and resubmit it; I’m taking the opportunity to dig deep and make sure I submit something I absolutely love. And I’ve decided not to move forward with the first publisher. Thanks to the input from my friends – whom I now think of as my “book angels” – I realize that the contract I was offered wasn’t a particularly good one. And more importantly, they helped me to value my own writing enough to say “no.” This isn’t just about getting published. This is about creating something that matters, and doing it with a partner whom I respect and who values my work.

Having a major publisher still interested in my work? Success! Being able to stand up for my own talent? Priceless. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

And now about the singing! After a bit of a slow start, I am now in the middle of taking regular voice lessons with an incredibly gifted woman who also happens to be a friend and colleague. Her name is Deborah Crane, and I think of her as “the voice whisperer.” Her real title is Voice Movement Therapist and you can learn about her amazing work at www.CreativeVoiceWork.com.

Deborah has a very profound understanding of both the physical and metaphysical voice. Her work is deep, engaging, and holistic. It is also incredibly enlivening! I feel like a new woman at the end of each session. My voice is opening up and I’m learning so much about the habitual ways I’ve unconsciously restricted the natural flow of sound vibration. Deborah views the voice as a bridge between the unmanifest and the manifest, which I find both provocative and enlightening.

At this point I really don’t care whether I audition someday for The Voice or not, because I’m gaining so much from the experience of opening my voice right now. And I’m having fun, which was the whole point of establishing the audition as a target. At that time I needed a reason to set aside time for fun; now the sessions themselves have created a delicious momentum of their own, so I’m riding that wave. Success! I set out to have fun, and not only am I having fun, I am deepening and expanding in unexpected ways.

I still have no idea how any of this will unfold. But I do have a renewed commitment to finding – and relishing – the insights and delights of each step of the creative process. I’m claiming success, right now, because I’m growing.

And so are you. Shall we celebrate??

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