As a child I read in order to be transported to other magical worlds and for companionship. It was always a joyous experience. As I grew older, I found myself seeking out authors because I was searching for or struggling with something. I was looking to them for answers and guidance, and I suspect that those authors also reflected a part of me that was awakening.
I remember one afternoon in the university library…
Hidden between the shelves, I run my finger along the spines of various books. So many new authors to discover – it is tantalising.
Then, my finger pauses on a familiar name.
Suddenly I’m aged 10 again, and am reading a Peanuts cartoon in which Snoopy is hooked on a series of books about rabbits. When he discovers that the author owns 24 pet cats, his ears fly up in horror, and he donates his entire collection of books to Linus, saying determinedly, ‘Back to Hermann Hesse’. I don’t speak any German, but I like the author’s name and it remains with me.
Now, I’m curious to find out more. By chance my finger is resting on Hesse’s first book, ‘Peter Camenzind’ and the exploration begins. After this I read many of his books and am particularly captivated by his ideas on self-awareness.
I enjoyed student life, but went through a questioning period where I wondered if we were all merely pawns in the game of life. As such, I really connected with the plays of Eugène Ionesco, which discuss the absurdity of existence, and how we often accept things without questioning them. In the play, ‘Tueur sans Gages’, the hero, Berenger, (who represents Everyman), has gone to a café for lunch. The owner informs him that he has some wonderful rabbit pate, which is pure pork! This appealed to my quirky sense of humour, and then led me to explore his ideas more deeply.
Looking back, these authors were a forerunner to the many spiritual books that were to come my way, as I struggled to make sense of my life and where I was headed. A source of support and guidance, they opened me up to a new way of being.
Leaving university felt like stepping into the void…
I knew that I wanted to do something I really loved and naturally considered working in book publishing. I went for some interviews, one of which was particularly memorable…
‘The really satisfying thing is when you see the entire project come together’, says Marie. I nod, trying to appear enthusiastic, but my eyes are misting over and even my insides feel dazed. Line upon line of text – it’s never-ending, and yet apparently the project does come to fruition, so she says. But is this how I want to spend my precious days, doing on-screen proof-reading for bi-lingual dictionaries? It is NOT.’
Eventually, I did make it into the publishing industry, but only after some years in market research to the pulp and paper industry, and then business to business public relations. Looking back I realized that I was never meant to start my career in publishing, as the Universe had other plans for me – it knew what I would need later on.
During these ‘detours’ I discovered that I loved interviewing people, found out how paper is made, saw my name in print for the first time (when I wrote an article on sustainable forestry), became adept at looking for the angle in a story, learnt how to manage clients (and their personalities!), and connected with people the Universe wanted me to meet.
I eventually made it into the publishing industry and spent time mainly in marketing and co-edition sales. I even went to the Frankfurt Book Fair. Ironically, I realized that my love of books and the difference I know they can make in this world wasn’t going to be fulfilled by working in publishing itself.
Gradually it dawned on me that I needed to blaze my own trail in order to do what I love and make a difference. I decided to start off by coaching people who wanted to write their first ‘mind body spirit’ book…
“I’d like to write a book, says Sam, ‘but I’m afraid that somebody is already out there saying all this.’ ‘You’re right’, I said. ‘They are. In fact, people have been saying it since Socrates, but it has yet to be said by you!”
This was one of the most common fears among my clients, but by ‘partnering’ with them, we were able to discover the unique book within, and I always found that the key to their book lay in their personal history.
It’s been a privilege to work with first-time authors and to be entrusted with their ideas and hopes for the book they want to bring forth into the world. There are three that I remember with particular fondness:
From Sofa to Start Line by Mike Hare tells the story of how the author lost 15 stone and started running marathons. Inspirational and amusing, it relates the massive obstacles he overcame and how, in the process, he changed his life.
“For any aspiring writer, Leda is a ‘must have’ team member. From her sympathetic guidance in the early days, through her subtle touches to keep me on course, right through to her light and insightful editing, she has been invaluable to the creation of ‘my book.”
The Career Itch by Grace Owen is for anyone who has an inner restlessness about the direction of their career and doesn’t know what to do next. The author experienced this herself on Millennium Eve and vowed that she wouldn’t feel that way one year later.
“From the outset Leda’s feedback was honest and direct and she encouraged me to write an additional 23,000 words for my book which has given it the gravitas it needed. Her tenacity was such that she did not let my book ‘go’ until she was satisfied that together we had explored it (and me) fully, inside and out. She has a knack for knowing if there is more of a story to tell and from start to finish, she gently but firmly enabled me to realise this.”
Winning Through Redundancy by Steve Preston aims to guide people who are lost in a career transition maze. Having experienced redundancy himself, the author, now known as the ‘Career Catalyst’, helps people to navigate their way to brighter future.
“Leda was there at the very start of my book writing journey. I was far too close and emotionally attached to it, but she was an inspiration, as she sees things in such a different way. Her creativity, knowledge, patience, calm and objectivity have been greatly valued. She motivated and believed in me from the outset, sharing my vision and keeping me on track to secure a publishing deal.”
I never expected, much less intended to write a book of my own, having always considered myself a reader first and a writer second. However I got the itch and eventually wrote and self-published my first book.
‘Finding the Gold: one girl’s search for her purpose in life’ is an inspirational memoir with self-help elements. I wrote it to encourage people to walk their own path, so they can find their purpose and passion in life. Looking back at my own journey, I discovered there is a grand plan even if you can’t see it, that you need to make the most of your experiences along the way, and to listen to your inner voice.
Writing my book was a real labour of love and took me on an inner journey of my own. To begin with, I simply jotted down random experiences and memories, which I originally envisaged as a series of essays. After a marathon three-hour session with a fellow writing coach, I was open to the idea of writing a memoir and of telling it through the lens of a trip I had taken to San Francisco.
I had no particular writing process. Sometimes I meditated for ten minutes before engaging in a stream of consciousness flow on to the page. I also did mind-maps to see if I could discover the connections between these memories and experiences and the places I had visited in San Francisco. At other times I didn’t want to write at all and I respected that. My desire for the book never left me though.
Then I had an ‘a-ha moment‘, a huge burst of clarity: I realised that my book was all about how I found my life purpose. This galvanised me into producing a first draft (aided by the fact that I had found an editor and agreed a deadline). I found that all the preliminary scribbling and musing and even the time out had helped me to prepare for this more formal stage of writing. Producing the completed manuscript involved much redrafting, a process I thoroughly enjoyed. Some chapters flowed easily, whilst I had to persevere with others, redrafting them up to eight times to get to the essence. I literally had to ‘write it out’!
During the earlier planning and scribbling stages, I decided which of the places I had visited in San Francisco would suit a particular chapter and theme. However, during the redrafting I had to go deeper and did some additional background research on some of those places. Each time I discovered a hidden connection, an interesting fact, anecdote or piece of history, which revealed just how appropriate they were for a particular chapter and confirmed my initial intuitive impulse about them.
All in all it took me a year and a half to complete my book, but I’m a great believer that the creative process can’t be rushed.
As I wrote my book I realized that the clues to my life purpose had been there all along.
Now, I’m moving away from coaching and into empowering people to write and market their books, as well as interviewing transformational authors and spreading the word about them, and discovering new ones. I will also be writing other books. I feel in my element at last.
This favourite quote of mine sums it up perfectly:
Everyone has a purpose in life…a unique gift or special talent to give to others.
And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.
Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success