I’ve been distant lately. Took a social media break and then wasn’t blogging much. It’s good to detach sometimes. I’ve been focussing on my writing, finances, yoga & meditation (not all in that order!) Since the boys and I got our vaccines, I’ve been exploring a bit more here in California: girlfriend trips to Joshua Tree and Sonoma, birthday trip with the boys to Catalina Island — and also an amazing trip to Florida, where I took my youngest to a weekend astronaut training camp at the Kennedy Space Center. (Beyond cool!)
And, I’ve got some good news, bad news. I’ll start with the good. I signed with my dream literary agent. I told myself that somehow, someway, I’d sign with someone who is spiritual, ethical, smart, savvy, and a really good editor/reader, on top of being an agent who gets me. She’s all that; definitely worth the wait. I think of the 25 years of writing and how other agents have come and gone—and how if my first deal when I was 25 years old (my MFA thesis of a murder mystery in Maine) had worked out, I’d likely never have written my three other novels. Everything in life—all the “good” and the “bad” moments—have shaped me, inspired growth, and led me to this exact moment with you. I say this all the time to my yoga students as I lead them into savasana meditation. And I mean it every time I say some version of that. But I guess I see it and mean it for all the yogis that I wish healing and the very best for. I’m a care-taker. So when the good comes in for me, well, I’m just shocked and over-whelmed. I’m always happy for others, and then grateful for what I have…so when things get even better, it’s just so damn unbelievable. It’s a kick. 🙂 Here’s me giving a cheers to Delia, with a class of kombucha, lol!
The other news? I’m deleting NavigatingVita.com. It’s an end to an era. I started this blog in order to find strength, process PTSD, connect with other single moms, find healthy and positive strategies, etc. That era in my life is over as I focus on my writing career.
Please subscribe to my author site: http://www.LauraKRoe.comwhere I will focus on writing about what my characters have to say. AND, I promise to engage with you. 🙂
I so look forward to hearing back from you.
Have a beautiful summer and remember to breathe, pause, and take time to be outside, read, or dance to your favorite tunes.
I have been “sheltering in place” with my two sons since February 25th—nearly a month before official quarantine orders were given in Los Angeles. (I got sick and recovered early.) During this time, I have gained clarity and focus. It hasn’t always been easy sailing, however, as I’ve had intense lonely days, like many of you. However, what I have learned during the, nearly four months of staying home, has been cataclysmic. In my attempt ‘to give more’ to my boys, I had been doing everything wrong for years. Everything.
But let me start with the beginning. COVID-19 pulled the rug out from under me, as it likely did for many of you. It immediately closed down the yoga studios and hospital classes where I taught eight-to-ten yoga classes a week. It also closed down two companies that I freelanced regularly for. (I’m a writer AND a yogi.) AND, on top of that, I never received my stimulus check and was turned down for unemployment—even though California politicians promised freelance workers consideration in the program. So, as a full time single mother of two, this was stressful.
Then the dust settled. My eyes adjusted. Anxiety lowered. I saw things more clearly. I was filled with gratitude. I was healthy. I had my boys. We could stay in our little cottage by the sea. I could budget. I could learn to manage my financial investments. We were spending less, too. There were no more volleyball lessons, soccer lessons, violin lessons, jiu jitsu. I wasn’t teaching, but no more evening classes or early 6 a.m. classes, meant no more ordered pizzas for dinner, and no last-minute purchases of school lunches for the boys, or coffee runs in the morning after my 6 a.m. class. I had been spending what I earned as a yoga teacher, in order to feed the boys and my caffeine habit.
Plus, slower mornings, meant, no rushing. As my younger son did his school work (my older son, a senior, sleeps in), I sipped half-caff coffee (brewed from home) and re-edited a manuscript. Then I re-edited and heavily tweaked another. That’s 180,000+ words, ya’ll.
Editing and writing my fiction daily had felt like a luxury before. I’d write for my clients: magazines, companies, hospitals. I’d squeeze in my fiction when I could—yet profess it was my purpose in life. Hmmm…I had been afraid of not earning enough money, and for my boys not to be able to do all that their friends did.
The truth is, working on my novels every day, provides me with the consistency to better see, with razor focus, when words sing, and when they are superfluous. I cut nearly 20,000 words from my two novels that are now with an editor. How amazing is that? By next year they will both be published! I mean, WOWZA. Uriel’s Mask and Between Thoughts of You will be published in 2021, either with a traditional publisher, or via a hybrid, (a pub that marries self publishing and traditional.) It’s very exciting and has been a looong journey for this single mother of eleven years. When I think about it too much, I cry. So lets move on.
What else is brewing in my Corona-vile cottage? My eleven-year-old son and I started a garden. We now have tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries. It provides a bit of hope for us and fun for him. He also likes to cook, a little too much, but I’m indulging him and trying to watch out for extra lbs for both of us!
My older son, who is obsessed with investing, has helped me learn about my investments and see which were not working. I’ve saved a lot of money by no longer paying fees, and by switching up investments during a market down-turn—so I have re-cooped losses, and gained a little. Of course, the markets will likely crash again, but I’m in a good position and we pulled rainy day cash out too after a wonderful rise in TESLA. (I’m not a fan of Elon, but hey, I’m grateful.) One stock earns hefty dividends, too, which means, I don’t need to teach yoga now, not that I could. I do, however, teach one virtual class a week for my seniors who have been like family for six years. It’s via my Facebook private page (Yoga w Laura) and is free for anyone to try. It’s my give-back during Corona lock-down, as we all need to get out of fear and move our bodies. Yoga is what allowed me to move past mental blocks, clear channels and programming, and reduce fear and anxiety. It is what allowed me to write nearly three novels in six years. But, all the teaching, ironically, was keeping me from sticking to a regular writing routine—which is key for consistent growth. I had thought the teaching would provide more flexibility and stable income to support the boys’ activities. But I was always given late night, early morning, or weekend classes to teach, which meant, I was away from home too much, and ordering food for the boys. It wasn’t serving me or the boys. Do I miss teaching? Yes. I love the way people melt in savasana and feel better after class. I was in better shape too. BUT, I’m in better financial shape and much better writing shape now. And I’m closer with my boys and closer to garnering a book deal and being able to write for a living. That’s a miracle.
You know what else has become stronger during these trying times? My mastery of the word NO. I must say, I had become pretty sufficient over my years here in La la land as a single yoga teacher. Plenty of married men have given me the ability to exercise that word. Plus, I have high standards when it comes to dating. I know, some of you are shocked that we’re even talking dating during Corona, but surprise, some guys are horny enough to risk their lives for a booty call. First of all, that’s nuts. Like I’d be to tempted enough to jeopardize my, or my kids’ health. But even if we weren’t living in Corona-times, I’d say NO to these yahoos. Sure, I’m lonely as hell. Some mornings I wake up in a fetal position and think I’ve turned into one of those children raised in a 1960’s Romanian orphanage who were never touched. However, NOTHING could make me date (or agree to a booty-call with) the three men who approached me during these past four months. NOTHING. One was a married father of three. (Hmm…NOT a good choice.) One had a serious live-in girlfriend and they are both local leaders in twelve-step communities. He actually got in touch via Insta to congratulate me on my nearly three years of sobriety. One minute later he asked for a private yoga session. Thirty seconds after that DM, he asked me to send a naked pic. (Can you say Gross?? It reminds me of the Netflix show Flaked staring Will Arnett.) And the third was from a guy who had asked me out three years earlier, and when I wouldn’t sleep with him on the first date, ghosted me. His text last week read: “Wanna hang out?” (Um NO. Not really.)
SO … guess what? There’s hope people! That’s really what I’m trying to say. Not all guys are idiots. However, my happiness is NOT predicated on finding the one and only conscious single man (over thirty-five please) in Los Angeles.
And, I’m getting published! Why? Because my writing time is no longer squeezed into a few hours on weekends, or in between a gajillion activities for the boys.
AND, my boys’ health and happiness is not contingent upon me killing myself or spending money I don’t have.
So, in conclusion:
Less really is More.
Calm is the new Creative.
Real is the new Sexy.
Stillness paves the path to Consciousness.
Consistency is an Author’s Best Friend.
And Kindness has always been—and always will be—King.
Peace out y’all. Stay calm, find your center, stretch your legs, and I dare you to smile this week. Remember, each smile is an achievement to be proud of.
What a dreamy writing spot I had last year in Greece! This is where I wrote a bulk of my last novel, Between Thoughts of You. I led a Yoga & Writer’s Retreat in a remote area of Styra, Greece on the Delenia Cliffs—about a 30 minute drive from Nea Styra port and where few cars enter, due to hair-line turns on rocky, unpaved roads. These ancient roads roll past trails leading to ruins called Dragonistas, or pre-historic Dragon Houses of unknown origin mentioned in the Iliad. What an inspiring spot to write! For me. (But it might have been too remote for some of my yogis, lol.) I have a bohemian side from my North Carolina roots where I was raised near horse farms and in what Californians would consider rustic terrain. I love being close to nature, hiking, listening to crickets—especially when they are competing with crashing waves. Add a night sky filled with stars and you can see why I didn’t mind living in a barn for a week—even if it had bats and huge spiders! I gave the main house to the yogis, who had pool and cliff and Aegean views, as I had my private writing spot every morning and most afternoons.
As the yogis decided to snorkel or sight see or hire drivers to take them to towns with restaurants and bars, I stayed put and wrote. Yes we had sunset yoga & meditation classes daily and three writing workshops, but days were open to explore. I mainly stayed put. Maybe I should have ventured out more, but I was focussed. I did this in Rome the previous spring—writing most of my days in seclusion, and walking around after sunset for inspiration. It helped me craft this novel and finish the first half. I was so close to finishing the whole draft when we were in Greece, that I just had to keep going. As a full-time single mom, I get so few full days to write. You may say that I fight for the time to write, when most of my friends lament of paralysis and procrastination. I can’t wait until that’s all I’m battling! For me, I juggle school stuff and homework for the boys, cooking, laundry, cleaning and soccer during the week—and I admit that I may not juggle it all that well. The minute I start to visualize where my novel is going, I find a way to sit down and write, whether at school, on the side-lines of a game, or even in bed at 5 a.m. where my black notebook lives in my side drawer. I dream of the days when I live “the write life” —meaning a life where I can devote five hours a day to my writing. I’m not even sure how I’ve managed to write three novels and am starting my fourth as the last nine years have been filled with sorrow, diapers and now a teenager all navigated solo. But it’s my journey. While I should be proud of what I’ve accomplished, I’m not completely. I’m determined to get better at my writing and at managing my time & life with my boys. I sent my last novel to beta readers and friends and must have edited it five times. I dream of the day when I get published traditionally. I love collaboration. I’ve been an editor of magazines, and I dream of working with an editor and agent and having that contract so I can write full-time, while of course teaching 2-3 yoga classes a week for balance and sanity! Until then, I will sneak writing time. I will steal a few moments here, a few moments there, and have a messy home for it and prepare too many frozen dinners.
My boys know that I’m focussed. I spoke with an executive at Random House earlier this year, showing him my synopsis and he said to me: “can you just get an agent so I can help you.” The traditional route demands representation. Self publishing demands marketing and self-promotion savvy. I don’t mind doing some, but I’m already writing my next novel. Who knew it would be harder to get an agent than to write to novel? But I continue to try and I continue to learn. I’m pitching an agent every week, as well as small publishing houses, a few have my novel now for consideration. I’m submitting to writing contests as well. It’s a business and I need not take rejection so personally, as many agents and publishing houses have specific genres/voice they are seeking and it changes constantly due to fluctuations and trends in the market place. I’m keeping an open mind and open heart.
And until that contract manifests, there is always another yoga & writer’s retreat! Next summer I’ll be in Spain watching my 16-year-old perform in opera houses and symphony halls. Isn’t that amazing? I can’t wait to watch him play violin, (and probably cry!) and then set up shop for my yogis. I’m debating between Madrid & Barcelona…I love both. There is power in creating space virtually, emotionally and physically to write while in inspiring get-a-ways. There’s just something magical that happens when taking that plunge—getting on a plane, leaving our bills, our neighbors, our little world behind that can become suffocating or distracting. It allows us to open up to possibilities. In the very least, it allows us to get inspired and talk about our dreams. As adults, it’s easy to shut down and lean into responsibilities, demands and fear. But without a little adventure and a little exploration, life becomes dull and heavy. We all need and deserve an injection of inspiration!
I can’t wait to tell you where the next retreat will be. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to juggle: to seek balance between loving my boys and supporting their needs, while striving to write another captivating novel that hopefully shows the power and survival of love—that always exists, even in the broken places.
She lists painful portions of rejection letters that famous writers have received over the years from agents before securing a publisher. This list includes JK Rowling, Jack Kerouac, Anais Nin, DH Lawrence, and other award-winning, authors whose novels went on to sell millions Erica reminds budding authors that rejection is a way of life and that agents have no earthly idea of what will actually sell in the marketplace. The entire process is subjective and we need to Keep going. But man, some of the rejection letters she published, are amazingly critical and harsh.
For instance, William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, was told this by an agent who turned down the novel: “this is an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
Stephen King was told this in regards to his query of Carrie: “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
And Joseph Heller got this thumping NO in regards to Catch—22: “I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny — possibly even satire — but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.”
Wow, shocking isn’t it?
Check out Erica’s post for all the insane rejections that popular authors have endured before finally getting published. Thank you Erica for posting this. And, if you’ve never been introduced to Erica, check out her blog which provides helpful tips for self publishing, as well as lists of agents and writing contests accepting submissions.
AloneTogether: Single Moms Support Group (This is a closed group, please say you found their site from me, Laura Roe Stevens, when requesting to join.)
The UCLA Family Commons: http://www.uclacommons.com/
Single Parent Housing: www.SPAOA.org
Pell Grants For Mothers: PellGrants.ClassesAndCareers.com