Non-attachment

I am forever trying to determine the magic formula for setting my personal energy for writing success. You write the book, edit it so it’s the best it can be, research agents and send it out. Then what? Start writing the next one, sure. But what is the best method of anticipation as you wait to hear back from agents and editors? How does one stay neutral without being pessimistic? How does one visualize success without risking disappointment?

I recently had the opportunity to interview Tracy Weber, author of Murder Strikes a Pose: A Downward Dog Mystery. Tracy, a yoga studio owner and a voracious reader of “cozy mysteries” (a sub-genre of the Mystery genre), set out to write her own series of novels based on a protagonist who (not surprisingly) owns her own yoga studio.

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After writing her very first novel, not only did she find a literary agent, in less than two weeks of her agent sending out her manuscript, she managed to get a three-book deal. Yes, you’ll want to tear your hair out when you hear that. Clearly, Tracy is an outstanding manifester. As a yoga instructor and habitual meditator, I felt she might have insights into setting the energy for success. During the interview, I asked her how she sets her energy for success.

After a moment’s reflection, she said, “The yoga sutras talk about the persevering practice in yoga.  And persevering practice in yoga has several components. One is that it’s something that you do over and over again, over a long period of time, with energy and enthusiasm, that is geared toward your personal growth, without interruption, and without attachment to results.” [The emphasis mine.]  “And so,” she added, “I suppose, when I look back at it, what it was was me trying to manifest that non-attachment.”

I’m going to list those things again, because they’re so important: 1) Something that you do over and over again, 2) over a long period of time, 3) with energy and enthusiasm, 4) that is geared toward your personal growth, 5) without interruption, and (most importantly) 6) without attachment to results.

Her answer is like Joseph Campbell’s follow your bliss but articulated more precisely. Let’s face it, writing takes a lot of effort. Countless hours in front of the computer, writing, editing, querying agents and editors. And in the end, we want all that time to pay off with fame, fortune, at the very least with an audience for our work.

What Tracy is saying is that the payoff is the process itself. The payoff comes during all those little moments of creation, whether it’s writing the first draft, getting that paragraph just right, or crafting a query letter that incapsulates the essence of your work.

Think about it. What if the joy of writing could be solely about the page in front of you and nothing else? What would it take for you to let all the rest of it go? By that I’m not saying not to do all the things along the path of authordom. But what if you resolved that being a successful author was not, in the end, what mattered most?

This blog entry was originally published for Author Magazine’s Author Blog.

_________________________________________________________ Author Photo 2 Square - Copy copy Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.  URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com tumblr_inline_msw15rad8T1qz4rgp

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My First Author Interview

I’m a big believer of setting goals and writing them down, of creating vision boards* of experiences you want to have, places you want to go, belongings to manifest, and achievements to attain. Over the years, I’ve connected with a network of friends who have had countless uncanny experiences creating the life and life experiences they’ve taken the time to document beforehand. I’ve had countless successes myself.

Recently, one of those goals took place in reality.

Years ago, I decided that I wanted to be interviewed by Author Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Bill Kenower. I wasn’t published yet, did not yet have an agent, but I felt that it was something that could one day happen.

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I’ve listened to enough of Bill’s interviews over the years to be able to imagine pretty vividly what that experience would be like. I imagined it taking place in my study, with lights setup, cameras, Bill sitting across from me looking dapper and professional.

I imagined what questions he would ask, how I might answer. I took a screenshot of Author Magazine’s home page and Photoshopped my own picture in the Author Interview section, complete with my name and bio. I even went as far as sitting in the reading chair where I hoped the interview might one day take place, answering imagined questions out loud, as if it were actually happening.

That interview didn’t happen, not until years later. In the interim, I’d stopped visualizing the interview. I think that not-imagining time is important. One of the key ingredients of manifesting, I’ve learned, seems to be letting it go, forgetting about it, if only to give The Universe the space to make it happen.

Before I knew it I was sitting in the reading chair in my study, with lights set up around me,  cameras, Bill sitting across from me, looking dapper and professional. I had made it. It was here. It was really happening.

Yet even as it took place, I couldn’t let go of the feeling that it had already happened, that all that visualizing had allowed some aspect of my psyche to travel ahead in time and have the experience. The actual event was more akin to a deja vu than to something that was taking place for first time, like standing between two mirrors that were facing each other, looking into a reflection of a reflection of a reflection.

Something of a higher order happens when we have a goal and document it, imagine it, feel it, live it as if it’s already happened. I challenge you to document your own goals and things you would like to some day experience. It need not be as elaborate as my efforts, for if there is anything I’ve learned about attracting a specific future reality is that it only takes as much effort as you think it will take to achieve.

If you have a moment, please check out my author interview with Bill.

*A vision board is a pictorial collage of goals. It might be a picture of an author at a book signing to represent you at your book signing, a picture of the Eiffel Tower to represent a trip to Paris, a picture of a sports car that you one day hope to acquire. You are limited only by your imagination.

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This blog entry was originally published for Author Magazine’s Author Blog.

_________________________________________________________ Author Photo 2 Square - Copy copy Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.  URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com tumblr_inline_msw15rad8T1qz4rgp

Mindset

Getting your writing published is largely a matter of practice, patience, and planting seeds. More often than not, high hopes are followed by broken dreams when reality fails to meet expectations. After a while is can seem like that classic Peanuts comic strip where Lucy holds the football so Charlie Brown can kick it, only for her to pull the ball away at the last second.

After reading the many, many versions of that comic strip, how can anyone fail to ask, Charlie Brown, why do you bother? She is never going to let you really kick that football, no matter how much it seems that she will.

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Yet when we’re in Charlie Brown’s shoes, we assume the same attitude as he does. Something promising happens and we think, This time, this time, it’s going to happen. I’m going to kick that ball out of the park! 

Last year, the week before Thanksgiving, my agent forwarded me an email from an editor who’d written two pages gushing over my supernatural YA novel, Aftersight. It was one of those emails that every writer dreams about getting, full of ardor and superlatives.

If you’ve read my previous blog entries, you’ll know that I originally wrote Aftersight in third person and rewrote it in first person on advice from my agent.  This editor’s email, while full of praise, had one admonition: “While I loved the story, I thought it would be better written from a third-person perspective. Would the author mind rewriting it in third person?”

After reading that, most would have collapsed in a chair and cried, “Are you kidding me?” (Luckily, I was sitting down.) Instead I thought, Well, I happened to have a third-person version available.

There were some tweaks I’d made to the first-person version that weren’t in the third-person one, but it only took a week to get them in place and then it was off to the editor, exactly two days before Thanksgiving.

Now, the waiting.

For years I’d been baffled by the best mindset to have when you’re in such a position. Do you keep expectations low, so you won’t be disappointed? Do you try to distract yourself with other projects? Do you stay confident and visualize success?

Thoughts aren’t just what is happening inside your head, no mere signals flitting through your brain. Your thoughts are where you’re putting your energy. So, no, keeping expectations low isn’t the answer. That’s not what you want to put out there into The Universe.

Yes, you can try to distract yourself with other projects. If you have the discipline to work on new projects and completely forget an amazing two-page email from an editor like that, you are a Jedi. But likely, even if you try, you’re only burying it inside yourself. Your expectations linger, even if they’re not in your waking consciousness.

For me, I chose to visualize success. Okay, I felt success to the core of my being. This time, I thought, I’m going to kick that football into the end zone.

A week passed, two weeks, three.  Too much time had gone by. By the week before Christmas, whenever I thought of my third-person manuscript in the hands of that editor, I felt ill. Was I putting bad things out in The Universe or was I sensing what seemed to be increasingly apparent: My third person effort failed to meet the editor’s expectations.

In the end, I’ll never know. Two days before I left work for Christmas vacation, I got the news: the editor was passing. No explanation given, even at the persistent prodding of my agent.

Merry Christmas to me.

So what is the answer? What is the proper mindset to have when one is in a position like this, when one is waiting?

I discovered the remedy a few weeks later, once there’d been time for my own expectations and hopes to equalize with reality. The technique I’m about to describe doesn’t just apply to getting published but for anything that you desire to the depths of your soul. Start practicing the technique now, so when The Universe sets a football down in front of you, ready for you to kick, you’ll know what to do.

There are two components to this technique. First, right now, this very moment, decide that what you want is going to happen, whether that’s getting published or whatever it is your heart craves. Take the “if” out of the equation. It is going to happen. Expect it. Know it. Doubt is simply your consciousness’s defense mechanism for coping with disappointment that hasn’t happened yet.

Next, throw out the How and When. You likely already have a mental timeline for when you expect your success to unfold. That timeline might be longer than necessary, in which case you’re undervaluing your abilities. It might be shorter, in which case you’ll grow frustrated if it doesn’t manifest as soon as you expect.

When you visualize success, you’ll often want to insert the How. When something good happens, like my letter from that editor, you’ll think you have the answer: This is how! Forget the How, simply trust. Somewhere, somewhen, somehow, it’s happened,  your consciousness–with its limited three-dimensional perspective–just hasn’t caught up with that success yet. This might be the way it happens, or it might not. But it’s coming. It’s happened. Be patient. Trust. Let it come to you.

The Universe knows the best timing. The Universe knows the best way. In the meantime, it’s feeding you the tools and the talent, so that when it does happen, you’ll be prepared to take that achievement and carry it forward to something far better than you’d ever imagined.

This blog entry was originally published for Author Magazine‘s Author Blog.

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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The Unfolding

I learned about The Law of Attraction in college from listening to motivational speakers like Brian Tracy and Denis Waitely, reading Master of Life magazine, and taking meditation classes, and I’ve always taken time to write down, visualize and feel the life that I want to create.

I’ve been doing this for more than twenty-five years now and in that time I’ve experienced some startling, this-can’t-be-a-coincidence successes. Some things have manifested in a matter of minutes, others have taken years. They do unfold, though not always in ways that I expect. Okay, very rarely in ways that I expect.

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Last Wednesday, downtown Seattle traffic was gridlocked when I made my way to the bus.  The crowd in front of Macy’s where I catch my bus was thicker than usual, so it wasn’t surprising when I didn’t get a seat.

My bus, Bus 5, is one of those long, double-coaches, a “bendy bus,” as they say in England. At first I stood in the front coach, hands full, headphones on, listening to an audio book and trying to keep my feet as we headed up Third Avenue.

As more and more passengers entered the bus, I was forced to move back and back, eventually making my way to the rear coach. There I spotted a guy I used to work with, a guy who had left the company a couple of years ago. I wanted to say hi, but my hands were full, my headphones on, and I felt awkward having a reunion on this crowded bus.

He didn’t notice me as I stood next to his seat, engrossed as he was in a book on his Kindle. When I looked down at what he was reading, I noticed a familiar name, then a second, then a third. These were my characters. He was reading my novel.

How many times have I imagined a scenario like this, though it had always been on a plane, and the person sitting next to me a stranger. In my imaginings the book had been a book, not an eReader, and it had been the cover I recognized, not the actual writing, but it was the same moment. I’d visualized it enough to recognize it when it happened.

Okay, yes, it would have been cooler if it hadn’t been someone I’d known, though it’s unlikely that if he had been a stranger that I would have looked down to see what he was reading. I like to think  that a moment like that with a stranger is coming, too. In the meantime, I’m going to put this moment in the W column.

Keep visualizing. The life you want is out there, even if it hasn’t yet manifested in real-time three-dimensional reality yet.  It’s coming.

This blog entry was originally published for Author Magazine‘s Author Blog.

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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Going the Distance

Even back in college, when I started my first novel-length project, I was visualizing for success. Back then I liked to visualize to inspiring music. One of my favorites was a song called “Going the Distance” from the Rocky soundtrack. The sense of triumph at the song’s climax never failed to get my adrenaline going and I felt that the sense of visceral emotion would combine with the mental movie I was playing in my mind to make what I was imagining a reality.

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If you know the song, it starts off with a sense of struggle, like the dark moment in a story before the climactic success. So, being a writer, I tried to create my mental movie to match the music. In my mind’s eye, I saw me typing away at my computer day after day, superimposed with the image of pages and pages of written material rolling out of my dot matrix printer.

This happened a long time ago, if you haven’t already guessed.

These mental pictures were juxtaposed with me going to the mailbox day after day and getting rejection letters from agents. This went on until the music bursts into a sense of triumph, one minute and thirty-one seconds into the piece. This is where I imagined the moment I get the acceptance letter and I begin jumping up and down in my front hallway, adrenaline pumping through me at the emotion of my success.

It only occurred to me years later as those rejection letters came in, one after the next, that I had manifested just what I had visualized. Eventually, the triumph I had mentally mapped out did happen, several novels later, and the sense of triumph I felt was much the same as I imagined. (Although I didn’t actually jump up and down. I was in a shopping mall when the call came in.)

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have received those rejection letters had I not visualized them, but maybe I wouldn’t have received as many as I did. There is no way to know. However, I’d advise you, when you are visualizing for you own success, maybe don’t put any struggle in there, even if it does “fit with the music.”

This blog entry was originally published for Author Magazine‘s Author Blog.

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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Manifesting without Effort

 In past posts I’ve written about manifesting the things and experiences you want through affirmations and visualizations, by remaining positive and feeling good. But the simple truth is that it doesn’t take listening to positive affirmations to attract that dream job you’ve always wanted. It doesn’t take ritual morning visualizations to manifest that completed novel you’ve been promising yourself you’d finish. Manifesting can be as easy as setting an intention, putting it out there in The Universe, then getting out of the way and trusting that it’s going to come to you.

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I have the privilege of sitting on the board of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Every year at the PNWA summer writers conference, I’ve met extraordinary new people and have mind-blowing experiences. What’s more, every year they get increasingly better. After the three-day conference is over, it often takes me several days to decompress from such a high-energy event.

As conference time rolled around this year, I wasn’t feeling the magic. Between traveling and major house renovations, I’d had no downtime for a solid two months. The thought of mustering enthusiasm for the three-day conference was starting to mess with my chi. All I wanted was an afternoon to sit around and read books, maybe have a solid satisfying writing session where I could spend a whole morning just creating. On the eve of the conference, I was starting to feel almost depressed and recognized that I would not, in this state of mind, manifest anything all that great.

As it happened, turning it around was simply a matter of deciding that something wonderful was going to happen and trusting that it was going to come. I don’t know how,  I thought, I don’t know when, but it’s coming. In truth, there wasn’t a lot of high-energy enthusiasm behind it. It was just a matter of deciding it was going to happen and trusting.

Thursday, the first day of the conference, began slowly. It was enjoyable, but nothing out of the ordinary occurred. As I turned in at the end of the day I only nodded pensively. I don’t know when, I thought, I don’t know how, but it’s coming.

Things began to get moving the next day. I had a blast moderating a panel with author Megan Chance on writing historical fiction. That night at dinner, through a series of unforeseen circumstances, I had the opportunity to sit by author Deb Caletti at dinner and have a profound conversation with her.

By Saturday, the last day of the conference, I was in The Zone. I moderated a panel that included my agent, Kathleen Rushall; moderated another on writing structure with Terry Persun; and moderated a third with Author Magazine’s Bill Kenower in which he interviewed authors Robert Dugoni and Deb Caletti. Perhaps the most amazing thing took place at the end of the day when, as a result of a last-minute illness, I filled in for a panel member as a speaker along with two literary agents and another author. The high-energy talk that followed was one of those sessions where everything goes right.

What is it you want to manifest? Don’t make it difficult.  Simply set your intention, put it out there in The Universe, and let it come to you.

This blog entry was originally published for Author Magazine‘s Author Blog.

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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Staying Positive and Feeling Good

AffirmationsSo, if the goal is maintaining positive thoughts and feelings, just how does one go about doing that? I’ve employed several techniques that are proving quite effective. One of them stands out above the rest.

Positive Affirmations

Let’s face it, affirmations can be a pain in the ass. I’m not talking about writing them. That’s the easy part: Keep them positive, first-person, present-tense. No, it’s the reciting of them daily that takes time and energy and seldom have I had any luck using them for a consistent, sustained period of time. Until now.

Previously, I’ve tried techniques like reciting them over and over, but then I have to keep them physically written down nearby. I’ve tried memorizing them, but that cuts down on the number of affirmations I can remember. Then there’s finding private time to recite them. Alone time is preferable, lest you sound like a crazy person muttering to yourself.

I’ve also experimented with writing down affirmations over and over again, a la Bart Simpson on the chalkboard, but this, too, is time-consuming and limits the number of affirmations I can use, to mention nothing of hand cramps.

The most effective way I’ve found to employ affirmations is to record them, which is pretty simple these days with all the computer, tablet and phone gadgets that allow for recording. This means I can listen to a good couple of dozen affirmations several times a day, very quickly, without needing anything more than my smart phone or computer nearby.

I’ve mixed my affirmations with dramatic music, which I find heightens the effect and allows me to feel the intent behind the affirmations more than if I was just hearing my voice. I have two separate sound tracks that I use, with the affirmations recited in a different order, to keep things fresh.

For the morning affirmations I use tracks from the movie Tron Legacy, which if you’ve ever heard it has this driving, insistent techno-beat that suggests we really are all in The Matrix and that, yes, focusing your thoughts positively can actually affect The Matrix.

My evening tracks are from the movie Somewhere In Time, from the scenes in which protagonist Richard Collier is trying to hypnotize himself back in time to the year 1912. If you know that scene, you’ll realize that what he’s done is record and playback affirmations for himself.

My affirmations take twelve to fourteen minutes to play. I listen to them while walking to and from my bus to the office, which allows me to repeat internally what I’m hearing and really feel the power of what I’m saying.

How have they worked so far? I credit them for remembering to keep mindful of my thoughts, to realize throughout the day how vitally important staying positive and feeling good is. They are a mental cue that I really can let go of negativity and redirect my awareness toward something positive. They remind me to trust, to focus on the right frequency and let The Universe take care of the rest.

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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