September 16

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Writing a yoga book

I can characterize myself as a disaster writer. Meaning when there’s a disaster, I put pen to paper to process it. My first book was self-published. There’s no P in our OOL is about applying yoga philosophy to an aqua yoga practice. I’d seen a need for the book since there wasn’t anything like it available. Though who was I to write this book, or one on such an in-depth topic. But then Hurricane Irma came to Florida. As someone who’s already got a busy brain and is sometimes hyperthyroid, having a category 5 hurricane barreling down on you which causes you to evacuate your house, maybe to not have a house to home to and then getting to come home but having no power for a week, was more than a little much. It somehow proved the perfect barometric pressure cooker for me. I didn’t sleep for two weeks, but I got a book out of it.

And then last year we got COVID. A long-haul disaster. Work shut down, and I was home day after day with my three men. Things improved for a while but being immunocompromised, it’s been an intercontinental train trip of stress. No one can lose sleep that long so I had to explore some other ways to manage my stress.

So I started on the next book that had been a little spark in my brain – a book for people to practice aqua yoga. I wrote out a chapter list, and whenever I had the urge or the time, I’d write something. It wasn’t in order, it wasn’t necessarily good or even useable, but I worked on it. That was last fall. After a month of work, I refined one chapter to be solid and started on a book proposal. I’ve never written a book proposal, and in all honesty, it was harder than the book. I know about aqua yoga. I don’t know about book publishing, production, or marketing. But I got it done. With a hearty dose of courage, I submitted it to a publisher who specializes in yoga books.

Before Christmas, I got the word they wanted an aqua yoga book, but one for teachers. Since I already train teachers, I said sure and resubmitted. It was an awesomely great feeling when they said yes. But there were so many details, and I didn’t know book contracts were so hard. That hurdle took quite a few months. I honestly thought it would get resolved, so I continued to work on the book in the background. Many literary agents would say you don’t write the book until you have the contract. I work when the ideas are in my brain because that works for me. Even if the publisher didn’t want the book, my teacher’s manual would be better with all the work I was giving it. I considered it a win/win rather than a risk.

We got past the contract, and I agreed to deliver the book in fourteen weeks. I actually got the writing done in ten weeks but needed a couple of extra weeks to organize the photos. So did I write a 53,000-word book illustrated with over 100 graphics and pictures in twelve weeks? Clearly not. It’s frankly been years in the making. Now that’s in the publisher’s hands, it will probably still be more than a year before I can get you a copy.

Did I lock myself in my room and produce this huge thing all by myself? Clearly not. Someone has to be on the other end of the camera for the thousands of pictures I’ve got of me doing aqua yoga. Someone’s got to pick up the slack in my personal life when I’m fried. Yeah, for supportive spouses! Forewords are not written by themselves. You need supportive colleagues. Graphics need more than one set of eyes, so helpful pros can save the day. And my students over the years have put up with my teaching experiments, let me shoot pictures, and brought this work and their enthusiasm for it into their communities. If you’re reading this now, I appreciate your patience and support during the quiet period of me not putting public materials out to connect with.

If this has sparked something in you and you think you’ve got a book inside of you, write it. You don’t need disasters for your writing to happen, but you do need to start somewhere. Lots of books have started as social media posts, journal entries, blogs, letters, or magazine articles. Those are all smaller than books. The point is to write a book, you have to write.

I love bread and cheese. They don’t love me back, but sometimes a celebration that includes unrequited love is the best way to celebrate big accomplishments. I went to the specialty market for a mezze plate, and we celebrated this big milestone as a family. Thank you for going on this journey with me as well. I appreciate your patience and support during the process. I will keep you posted on how to get a copy of Water Yoga, A Teacher’s Guide from Singing Dragon Publishers as I know more.

A toast to ongoing literary journeys for all of us…

Mezze plate spread with olives, sausage, cheese, and bread to celebrate the finishing of writing a yoga book.

Resources that helped me in writing a yoga book

Books that got me thinking:

Only one of these is an actual source from the book. I know you’re not interested in a bibliography. These are books that get you thinking, taking action, and inspire good conversation.

Wild Words – This was an affirmation that to be an author, you don’t have to have already published bunches of books and have all the time and money in the world to go on a writer’s retreat. It’s ok to write on your phone at your kid’s sports practice because you’re still an author when you live in the real world.

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee – Racism costs all of us dearly, and the book makes that clear. However, of course, the part about swimming pools hit me hardest. Does anyone really win by paving over a pool?

I loved Undrowned, Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs. I’ve listened to my marine scientist husband and his colleagues for twenty years. They’re passionate about the important work that they do but rarely do the conversations get philosophical. If I was ever brave enough to ask any of them if they’ve ever considered the meaning of their work from a black feminist theory perspective, I know I wouldn’t get the depth of reflection like this book despite their passion. Totally alternative and mind-blowing. It has absolutely nothing to do with yoga but if you love the water and ever wondered why, it will get you thinking. Support a feminist press and buy the book directly from the publisher.

A Gift From the Sea – If you’ve never read this classic, you absolutely should. It’s Virginia Wolf’s, A Room of One’s Own, for any creative woman who’d rather do their thing outside. The book always speaks to me in a way that’s right for the moment, whatever’s going on in that moment.

When I can’t stare at the screen anymore because my brain is scrambled, I like to go for walks. Getting some blood moving in the fresh air is physically healthy. Usually, I needed a breather from my full house too. We’ve got a great bike trail near us, and I can pop in the earbuds and walk a couple of miles anytime. While listening to podcasts while walking might sound less than mindful, for me, it helped get me out of my own head. Listening to someone else process something stopped me from ruminating on where I was stuck and helped me with new ideas.

Two podcasts that were inspirational during this process:

Find your voice podcast by Allison Fallon

Unlocking Us by Brene Brown – None of her guests have anything to do with yoga, but the whole theme of the show is about doing better, being better. When you’re writing a book, you’re diving into vulnerability left and right to make magic flow from your fingers. She’s the queen of normalizing what’s tough and coming out stronger on the other side.

*This post contains affiliate links. Books purchased through these links cost you the same amount, and I get a tiny commission to support my yoga book habit.  Thanks for your consideration.


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