Accessing old memories leads a writer into nights of insomnia and fear, and brings him closer to publication.
I had just written a powerful inner child exercise and remembered how my grandmother threatened to have me locked up in an asylum, and decided to “show me what it would be like.” For the next several days I lay on my bed with my arms and legs shaking for long periods of time as the fears released. On one level I knew I had just freed a deep trauma from my soul, and the fears that had been stored in my body were breaking loose, but while it was going on – it was horrible. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was anxious, my heart was racing, and I was terribly sensitive to noises around me. Gradually the feelings subsided, but I was pretty clear that there were more feelings to be released.
In January 1988 I had remembered the violent incident with my Dad which became the focus of Freedom’s Just Another Word, the memoir I was writing. During that time I would regularly lay awake until 3 a.m., unable to sleep and shaking with fear – the violent incident had happened late at night and it was unsafe to relax.
Eventually I realized I wasn’t going to sleep well until the violent incident had worked its way through my body. I took a night job for three years until the release of fears had subsided. That experience gave me trust in the process that if I could just hang on and let the feelings break free, it would have a powerful healing impact. But from that experience, I intuitively sensed that the events with grandma were deep and powerful, and would take some time to work through.
Returning to work during the process of releasing the fear would be difficult. I was faced with the prospect of being awake and in distress until 3 a.m. fairly frequently as the fears released, with no way to control the situation. Trying to work under those conditions would be terribly difficult, and probably unsustainable. I also had a feeling that my original plan to publish the book in January 2009 might be too far in the future. Therefore, it might be time to take a gamble. An option for publishing resurfaced, again to be considered, only with a different time frame.
I could arrange things financially where I would not have to take another contract in the oil business for a while. By doing that I could let the fears purge without trying to maintain a work schedule. I could also go ahead and publish the book without the stress of trying to work after sleepless nights. I wrote that down as Plan B, and put it in an envelope, to be opened a month later. I knew at the moment I was still feeling the effects of the grandmother incident, so I didn’t want to try to make a decision while the fears were releasing. I decided I would discuss the new plan with my friends Karen, Mike and Scott, to see what they thought about it. I prayed for God to show me a sign if I should go in that direction.
The next day, I told Karen about it, and after I went through the whole thought process, she said the plan sounded solid. Mike and Scott agreed when I told them about it. I began to check out the Print On Demand publishers I had found earlier, and reviewed that publishing model in general. I read an article which indicated that the big Print On Demand companies were in the business of selling services to authors, and weren’t necessarily interested in helping an author actually sell books. The article mentioned a small publisher which appeared to be a preferable option.
This smaller publisher used the same distributor as the larger publishers, but didn’t try to sell the additional services. I checked out the company website, and it seemed very credible. The information indicated this publisher could usually put a book into publication within a month. They didn’t accept all authors, because they were a small shop, but the author would get more personal attention. The restriction with the larger Print On Demand (POD) publishers had been the four to five month cycle to get published. Allowing time to get the book ready, that would have pushed my publication date into 2009. Now I had a plan which felt right. I realized later that this was my sign to go in the direction of Plan B: I could publish by the end of the summer, which had felt right all along.
About the same time, I got an email from Sandra, a friend I had gone to high school with in Farmington, New Mexico. We began to exchange emails, and it brought up a lot of memories for me. I had known Sandra and many of my friends in Farmington since grade school. However, my family had abruptly moved in the middle of my junior year in high school, and I’d never had a chance to say goodbye or get any closure with those people.
There was a 40th year reunion coming up in July for the class of 1968, and Sandra asked me if I was going. I had never thought about it, but even though I didn’t graduate there, I felt more connection to that high school than the one I did graduate from. I decided to go, mostly to be able to visit with Sandra. She had a perspective on my early years that no one since could have. Since she was always an insightful person, I just knew she would be able to illuminate those times for me. I sensed there was a connection between moving forward on publication and revisiting the place of my youth – the place that was still so important to me. My trip in January had given me new insight on the power of Farmington for me, and why I was so strongly bonded to it. I couldn’t tell what that connection was between publishing and Farmington, but I just knew I was supposed to go to that reunion.
Just doing research about Print On Demand publishers made me realize that I was getting serious about publication, which forced the fears to purge more intensely. I knew it was the right thing to do, and that if I didn’t confront these fears, they would continue to fester and poison my insides; eventually I would abandon another project to publish a book, just as I had done twice before. That thought wasn’t much comfort when I was laying awake with all the lights on, my legs shaking with fear, feeling unsafe. But it had to be done, so I continued to let the old fears release.