Archive for the ‘Magic’ Category

Acts of Faith

January 2, 2013

In recent blog posts I talked about morning magic (the power of daily prayers and meditations) and visioning (the power of picturing the things you want with the clarity and intensity that bring those things to you.) Now I’m going to talk about the most important part of this kind of work. Acting as if you already have what you want aligns the universe to your vision. If you pray for or meditate on having a horse, if you envision owning that horse, now you must build a stable even if you don’t know where you are going to get a horse.

When I had landed my agent but did not have my first book deal yet, I decided to show the universe that I knew I’d be needing a headshot for my dust jacket. I googled local photographers and chose one, called him up, asked for a sitting for a publicity headshot because I was a novelist. He asked when my book was coming out – when did I need the photo? I said I didn’t know because I didn’t have a book deal yet. He humored me and asked when I wanted to come in. It was January. I said, “How about May?” Turns out he had plenty of time in May.  As it happened  my novel sold in April – when I came for my appointment, and he asked how my search for a publisher was going, I had fun telling him about my book deal and seeing the surprise on his face.

Here are some other examples of acts of faith that did the trick: When my sister and I were living in a motel waiting to move into the house we wanted, the bankers kept telling her that she should choose another place – that house was too much for us. But Cynthia knew we were going to get the house she fell in love with at first sight. To get that idea across to the universe, she had address stamps made for herself and me with our names and the address of our future home. And it worked.

Before I adopted my baby, I gathered toys, furniture, clothes, and books. I recarpeted the nursery and had a tree painted on the wall. I know there were other things afoot in the universe helping Binny and me find each other, but when I took action, a demonstration of not just hoping but of knowing, it tilted the scales toward my dream.

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That doesn’t mean the road to motherhood was easy – I had two failed adoption matches before I met my son, but when I was waiting for the third match to succeed or fall apart, I wrote a draft of my child’s email birth announcement. I imagined how I’d feel and was overflowing with joy as I wrote the text, leaving blanks for birth weight, length, date, time of day. And I used that very document when Binny was placed with me a couple of weeks later. Feeling the happiness in advance is part of the act of faith recipe.

In The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, she and the other contributors tell people who want to fall in love to make room in their lives for that soul mate by clearing out drawers and closet space for them. They also warn us that if we are asking the universe for wealth, we need to act rich. Don’t keep saying out loud that you can’t afford things or that you are broke. Instead do something a rich person would do whether that’s buying the expensive cup of coffee or window shopping for a new car.

And as writers we need to be reminded to perform acts of faith about our careers. Saying, “I’ll try to be a writer for six months and if that doesn’t work I’ll quit.” would be like telling the universe, “I will fail and it’ll take about six months.” Instead of planning to fail, plan to write forever. And don’t just meditate on your success and visualize a fabulous career, take some action – get your publicity photo taken, draft the invite to your celebration bash, have cards made: (your name here) ~ writer. And feel the thrill of it now, in advance.

Another example of a small act of faith, something you could do today, is the purchasing of a signing pen. When I didn’t even have an agent yet, I bought a funny ball point pen that was covered with faux gems and said aloud, as I put it in my pencil jar, “Someday I’ll sign my novels with this pen.” And I felt a little surge of joy. A couple of years later as I was rushing out of the house to go to a signing at a book expo, I grabbed a few pens from the jar and threw them in my bag. While I sat at my booth signing copies of my novel I noticed I was holding that pen. This stuff works – I’m just sayin’.

bejeweled pen

Another example: I got a new purse and filled it with pens for signing books, tissues, gum, all the kinds of things I’d need on a trip. And then I left this purse sitting out in my apartment on the coffee table. I vowed that I would not put this purse away until my publisher sent me somewhere on their dime to do publicity for my book. People would come over to my place and say, “What’s that?” I’d say, “It’s my traveling purse.” Within the year Houghton Mifflin flew me out to New York for BEA to do a signing and attend a Houghton Mifflin party. I got to meet my editor, publicist, and agent in person. It was a wonderful trip. And I felt some of that wonder in advance every time I saw that purse waiting on the coffee table.

purse

So, now, go forth and act on faith! If you can’t decide what action to take, follow your feelings. If the idea of a certain act of faith makes you feel bad (nervous or stressed or annoyed) choose something else. Choose the idea that makes you smile on the inside. Your pleasure is what gives the act its potency.

The Power of Visioning

November 22, 2012

After I’d written and rewritten my novel, A Certain Slant of Light (the first one that sold,) I felt like I’d become a good enough writer to break in, but it still felt as if there was a vast canyon between me and getting published. As I researched agents and sent out queries, I also did inner-work.

Every day (sometimes more than once a day) I would picture the barrier between me and getting published as a physical wall and every day I’d knock that wall down in my mind. Sometimes I pictured myself hacking at it with an axe until it caved in; sometimes I pictured myself riding up to it on a horse and having the horse kick a hole in the wall with its hooves; sometimes I’d pictured my friends joining me to help attack the wall; sometimes I even pictured myself standing alone at the foot of the wall and singing a great note that vibrated through the stone and mortar, crumbling it like the walls of Jericho brought down by Joshua’s trumpet blast.

When that wall came down I always pictured myself joyfully leaping to the other side and sometimes even doing a victory dance. Eventually I began to picture my friends and relatives climbing over the rubble that had once been the wall and celebrating with me. And then I began seeing myself taking the broken pieces of wall and making beautiful flowerbed borders and fountains and sculptures out of them in the garden on the winning side of the wall.

I can’t prove that these meditations helped, but I never gave up picturing that wall coming down until I sold my first book and now I’m a full-time novelist. Visualizing what I want to manifest into reality has become a common practice in my life.

Another visioning exercise that felt powerful was the tipping of my proverbial hat to the writers who came before me. Each day for a minute or two I’d look at the novels in my bookcases and give a nod of thanks to each author as I said aloud, “What God has done for others God does now for me and more.” (This is paraphrased from Florence Scovel Shinn’s book, The Game of Life and How to Play It.) Each of those writers had been in my shoes at some point. And someday soon I’d be in theirs. Picturing myself following in those authors’ footsteps was deeply inspiring and comforting to me.

And the visioning method can be used for other things, not just writing. When my avenues to adopting a child overseas shut down, I felt stumped. I sat with my sister and a friend of ours and pictured what seemed almost impossible — me adopting a newborn. The foreign adoptions were all babies five to eighteen months old. It seemed unlikely, but I envisioned myself holding a baby who was only a few days old. I said to the universe, “I don’t know how it will happen, but I know that I will adopt a newborn baby and I feel joyful and grateful.” Within a few weeks I found the domestic adoption agency through which I adopted my son, taking custody of him when he was only ten days old.

The visioning process can be used on anything you want to summon. (But only positive visions – never picture something negative no matter how annoying your Ex/crazy boss/loud neighbor can be. What is sent out comes back to the sender, so nothing but good should be pictured here.) You might want to overcome writers block, or finish a current manuscript by Halloween, or get a 50K advance on the novel your agent is pitching next month at a Book Fair. See it in your mind with as much detail as possible. Create a scene instead of just the concept. Don’t just see yourself getting the news of the book deal — see yourself jumping with joy, hearing the exact words your agent uses to break the news to you over the phone, feel the joy of success run through your body. Who will you call first to share the moment? Will you go out to eat to celebrate or throw a party? It’s your fantasy – create it exactly the way you want it to be.

If you want to vision up a miracle, but meditating is not your cup of tea, writing a statement and repeating it might work better. Thoughts become things and thoughts are further empowered by the voice. (We’re writers – we have VOICE.) If you want to sign with the perfect agent, write it down: “I have the perfect literary agent.” Write it out ten times. Or a hundred. Now read them out aloud. All the repeats. Don’t use auto-pilot. Hear the words and mean them as you speak them. The universe will vibrate with your intention and what you have declared will be attracted to you.

I’ve used repeated statements for everything from having my one-on-one pitches at conference go great and getting the apartment I wanted, to finding lost objects and even winning an award. As with all these kinds of techniques, I can’t prove they work, but they feel good and they seem to have a positive effect.

If you want to envision something, but you’re not sure what the perfect version of it looks like, take a tip from my father. When he was told by his doctor that one of his ankles would not sustain his continued tennis habit, he asked for an X-ray of a healthy ankle. He studied the picture of that good ankle as he meditated on healing and, just as he knew it would, his ankle healed enough so that he played tennis (even winning trophies) for years after that.

Yeah, I know. It’s kind of Woo Woo. Try the visioning exercise anyway, even if it sounds silly. And when, to your surprise, it works, I won’t say I told you so. You don’t even have to tell me that it worked for you. (But please do – I’d love that.)

If the visioning process doesn’t seem to be working for you at first, don’t give up. Sometimes it takes longer than others. Relax and try it again tomorrow.

And, by the way, Happy Thanksgiving and good luck to those racing to finish the drafts of their novels by December first. Nanowrimo folk are a brave-hearted clan!

Morning Magic

August 27, 2012

The bad news is, I am not going to teach you a spell to make the agent you queried sign you or the editor to whom you recently sent your manuscript offer you a book deal. The good news is, in this blog post and the next two I am going to share three types of magic practices that I believe helped me break in as a novelist and empowered my career.

Before my son was born, my sister Cynthia and I used to sit down together every day and do prayers and meditations, our Morning Magic, a three part exercise. First we’d start with prayers for family and friends, especially those in need physically, emotionally, spiritually, or financially. Where two or more gather together, the power is multiplied. This is not only good for the receiver of the prayer, it’s a blessing to those who pray. I always feel calmer and clearer at the end of this part of the magic. And something about doing for others before you do for yourself gives the second and third parts of the magic more potency.

Next we’d meditate on prosperity. This could come in the form of abstract images or vivid daydreaming. Sometimes I would do nothing more than feel the joy of what it would be like to have a full and steady cash flow.  Other times I’d picture a scene – I am with my child at Disneyland where we have a great room at the Disneyland hotel – as we explore Fantasyland I see that I am wearing new Eileen Fisher clothes – we are so wealthy that we eat lunch at the Blue Bayou restaurant and then shop for a Winnie the Pooh doll and a Mickey Mouse tee-shirt without needing to read the price-tags.

Finally my sister and I would take turns asking for positive visualizations on specific topics. We’d both concentrate on my request for a few minutes of silent visualization and sharing about what we saw, then we’d do the same for her. Sometimes I wanted to picture myself finishing my current novel and having it come out fast and fabulous or (before my son was born) getting the perfect adoption match. Cyn sometimes wanted to picture one of her plays being produced or her next writing cruise going great. It’s amazing how good this makes you feel – inspired, joyful, energetic. And, I’m telling you, miraculous things have been manifested.  

As an example:

A few months before I adopted my son, I got a cryptic email from my agent saying we might be hearing some good news from overseas soon. That meant a new foreign deal was probably on its way. The largest foreign I’d had before came to about $8000.00. Though it seemed unlikely, during our Morning Magic I said, “Let’s picture this new deal being enough to pay for the whole adoption.” (The adoption fees were between 10,000 and 20,000 dollars.) So we concentrated on that idea for just a few minutes. Within a couple of days I got the news that I’d sold the German rights to my first novel in a bidding war for 20,000 euros. Not dollars. Euros. More than enough to pay all the adoption costs. This might have happened even without the Morning Magic, but I’m not sure about that.

Since Binny, now two and a half years old, has become mobile it’s become harder to do Morning Magic – you really can’t take your eyes off the little guy, even in a baby-proofed room — but I hope we can figure out a way to get back to it – it’s priceless.

If you don’t have a prayer buddy, you can do the same three steps (prayers for others, prosperity, and current needs) on your own.  AND you can also try a Daily Visioning paragraph. Each morning I slightly revise, but mostly just recite, a paragraph that instructs my day on how to be wonderful.

“Today I will get great stuff done and be inspired by it; I’ll get great writing done and LOVE what I come up with; I’ll get wonderful things in the mail including lots of money; I’ll also get great news about my career and money; I’ll look and feel great all day and night; I’ll sleep sweetly with delightful dreams; I’ll experience the weather as gorgeous and perfect (this works well – I almost always enjoy the weather in Oregon,  rain or shine); I’ll feel naturally happy thus drawing even more good to me; I’ll hear that Cyn, Mol,  and Binny (include your household members)have  great days, too; Max will feel perfect all day and night and be perfectly well behaved and do all his pees and poos outside (important if you have a high-maintenance pet); (insert any special event for the day and how it will go well); and I’ll get fabulous fan mail! Thank you, dear God, for all these your gifts which bring us great joy.

I have no proof that this paragraph actually reforms my day, but it feels good and so I continue to read it out loud every morning. If words become things, as they say in The Secret (Rhonda Byrne,2006)and The Law of Attraction (Michael J. Losier, 2006) and The Game of Life and How to Play It (Florence Scovel Shinn, 1925) then I want positive words floating in my head and flowing from my mouth.

Next time I’ll describe some visioning techniques that I believe helped me land my first book deal.