Sunday, October 27, 2019

TED Talks and Whispering Possibilities

I’ve always wanted to do a TED Talk - always, ever since I first heard one on my NPR App. Maybe someday I will find myself on a TED stage, but until then, I had a mini presence that was profoundly connecting.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, a TED Talk is an exchange of Technology, Education and Design (TED) and it has a global reach. What gives it such appeal is that it’s storytelling at its finest and most engaging.

Who doesn’t love a good story?

When an author connects with the reader through the printed page, this is glorious; when an author connects with a live audience in a cozy library on a windswept Autumn evening — this is a splendid moment. That rare, splendid moment is what occurred recently in Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania, in the rural slice of Americana where I was blessed enough to grow up.

I’ve lost count of how many times my relentlessly pushy publisher has encouraged me to go back to my roots. “You need to speak where you already have an audience,” she insists. “Go and tell about your books where you are known and loved. Success isn’t always about large crowds — it’s about connections; it’s about finding your message and delivering it to pliable, ready hearts.”

She’s right.

That’s what happened on a breezy Wednesday evening in the heart of my home region; my roots, amidst a gathering of familiar faces who stepped away from their busy schedules to hold my story.

Capture Me Books, my launching pad, has announced “Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers”. It’s my 4th and final installment in a series of books about grief, grief recovery and joy.

I’m on a book tour.
It’s not easy.

As an independent publishing entity, we at Capture Me Books, do our own promotions, calling, packing and slogging. We call the newspaper and hope they’ll do a blurb. We call our friends and pray they’ll catch our vision, our passion and our deep longing for connection between book and reader.

As collaborative writers on a mindful budget, we show up at workshops, conventions and craft shows. We sit at tables for hours, sometimes without anyone so much as picking up our stories, our books, to have a browse.

It can be soul crushing.

For most of us,  our writing and publishing is a side hustle, something we care deeply about, but nevertheless a thing we must do in the margins of a full time job, being a care giver, trotting the kids to school and balancing the checkbook.

I used to think authors just sat in their sunny studios and waited for inspiration.

Not so.

We jot stuff down on the available napkin or scrap of paper. We hope we won’t lose that cluster of words before the final edit inside a book — we often feel daunted by the influx of great books out there, doubting our place in the literary world.We soldier on though, prompted by our faith, our fellow writers and our relentless coach and mentor, Laura. Her belief in us is unflagging and her gift for encouragement is unparalleled.

We soldier on, showing up at community  events, unpacking our books and often packing all of them back up for the net gig.

Writers are eternal optimists. We may hit a dry season, but we feel in our gut there will be a breakthrough somewhere, sometime.

So, back the the TED Talk Aha! moment:
In a sacred space, a mysterious moment where time stopped and hearts listened, I invited my friends to “hold my story” as I shared about grief, grief recovery and joy.

I related how, when we choose to hold someone’s story, we give them a voice. We offer them a safe place in which to spill their worries, losses and victories. Finally, and best of all, we get to sojourn with them in their journey of discovery and recovered joy.

This was my “TED Talk”, or, on the community level, my own “TEDx” talk.
It was a tender series of moments, including the moment in which a widow clasped my hands in hers and told about losing her husband and her son, all in the impossible space of a few years. How she was crushed under the weight of that grief, and how she is surviving with the help of her church family, her deep faith, the unseen but very real ribbons of hope that swirl around her.
In that moment we held each others’ stories.

I sold some books that night.
The euphoria of selling books, as giddily delightful as that was, actually held second place to the wonder of authentic connection.

Thank you, Karla, for organizing my book appearance at Sugar Grove Free Library,

Thank you, Laura, my Protagonist, for faithfully herding your wayward writers into our solemn, light-infused pathways.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for holding my story.

Kathy's Everyday Celebrations: Today I'm celebrating...cloudy days with sunny thoughts...whistling teakettles...and dinner with laughter.