Thursday, July 26, 2012

Catfish Campaign, Day 26, Speaking Engagements

Most of my marketing tips have targeted groups of numberless people. The online world can do that for you—readers can pass your message with a click of the button. Your blurb can be shared within seconds/minutes to countless people with a phone in their pocket. Speaking engagements are a much more limited audience. They’re time consuming, nerve wracking, and if you’re an introvert—simply not fun. And yet there is something to be said for the personal connection, the eye to eye and heart to heart contact.

Over spring break I went to San Luis Obispo with my husband and daughters. I love San Luis Obispo! Victorian houses, historical sites, farmers’ market with oatmeal cookies, as well as fresh produce, of course, the beach, funky shops, small theaters…happy sigh.

On our way home, they dropped me off in Santa Barbara so that I could speak at the LDS Institute of Religion. That morning was filled with nerves (me) and thunder, lightning and torrential rain (the weather). I worried that no one would come. Five minutes before I was to begin there were about ten guys and one physics major girl. And although I was there to speak on discovering our lives’ missions, I also hoped that maybe some of the audience would rush home and order my books. Guys and physic major gals really aren’t my target audience. But in the end we had about twenty students--more guys than gals—but even guys can appreciate a good ghost story.

Here’s a much abbreviated version of my talk:

Today I want to talk about that discovering and pursuing the course of life that the God wants us to live. Accepting that God is our father, that He loves us and because He loves us he wants us to be happy—we need to ask ourselves if we’re living the lives that will bring us the most happiness. I believe that before we came to this earth, we were given a mission to fulfill. And for each of us, that mission is unique and individualized. If you’re not fulfilling the mission you were sent here to do—you won’t be happy. It doesn’t matter if your dayss are filled with goodness and selflessness—if it’s not in keeping with the promises you made before you came to earth—you won’t be happy. If you’re not fulfilling your personal ministry, you’ll be frustrated and discontent.

Joseph Campbell called our ministries “Your Bliss.” Oprah Winfrey called them “Sweet Spots.” Oprah said, “They’re the moments when we’re immersed in the things we were put on earth to do, the things that tap into our strongest strengths and deepest loves, the things that let us be the most us we can possibly be—the things we are called to do.”

Prayer, scripture study, and spiritual promptings can help us find our bliss, our sweet spots, but even then—sometimes it’s hard. So, please take this simple test with me.
Question 1. When you think about your work, what emotions does it bring? When you’re honoring your calling, there’s an undeniable sense of stimulation and exhilaration. It will just feel right.

2. Are you serving others? Anything that makes you feel strong, connected and aligned with your calling will bless others. Every good work you do will impact those around you.

3. Does it make you excited to start your day? There’s a song by Billy Joel with the line, “Hardly anyone can see just how good I am—Rosalinda says she knows. Crazy Latin dancing solo down in Herald Square, Oh Havana I've been searching for you everywhere. We need to search for our own Havanas. Even if hardly anyone can see just how good we are.

Still, sometimes it’s difficult. I have struggled with this. I’d like to share an experience I had after finishing my novel Hailey’s Comments. I’d made a goal to query fifty agents and after a few weeks the rejection letters were flying in, each bringing a blow to my fragile ego. My friends own successful businesses, they teach in schools, run preschools, take in foster children- I write stories no one reads.

We were vacationing in the San Juan Islands with my husband’s family. I hadn’t written anything in weeks. When we visited Victoria, BC I knew I had to see Craigdarroch Castle.
 My novel, HAILEY’S COMMENTS takes place on a fictional island in the Pacific Northwest. The Dunsmuir home is a stone Victorian mansion, complete with turret and a widow’s walk that overlooks the ocean. In my novel the family matriarch, Helen, is murdered by her grandson, James Dunsmuir.

In Victoria, high on a hill, stands Craigdarroch Castle, but it’s not a castle with ramparts and moat. It’s a stone Victorian mansion complete with turret and a widow’s walk overlooking the ocean. It looks exactly as I’d envisioned my fictional Dunsmuir home. I stood outside on the grounds marveling. When I went upstairs, I read that the home was built by Robert Dunsmuir and after his death became the property of his widow, Joan. Joan and her son James, who shares my villain’s name, had a stormy relationship and were estranged for many years.

Until that day, I’d never visited Victoria, to my recollection I hadn’t any prior knowledge of the city’s prominent families or of Craigdarroch Castle. I’d never heard of the Dunsmuir family. As I stood on the Castle’s widow’s walk and watched the ships moving along the water, I felt a hand resting on my shoulder, pressing me forward, urging me to continue to write my dreams.

(My apologies to the Dunsmuir family. In reality James was most likely a perfectly lovely person and if he had reasons for being estranged from his mother, I'm absolutely sure it's not because he murdered his grandmother. I have since changed the names in my novel, which, by the way, is currently beneath my bed).

George Albert Smith said, “We are living eternal lives. Eternity doesn’t begin after this life but mortality is a crucial part of eternity. I sometimes have said to my friends when they seemed to be at the crossroads, uncertain as to which way they wanted to go, ‘Today is the beginning of eternal happiness or eternal disappointment for you.’” Our comprehension of this life is that it is eternal life—that we are living in eternity today as much as we ever will live in eternity. The intelligence that God has placed within it, that which has power to reason and to think, that which has power to sing and to speak, knows no death; it simply passes from this sphere of eternal life, and awaits. This life is not given to us as a pastime. There was a solemn purpose in our creation, in the life that God has given to us.”

Does this mean that I will become a bestselling author or that you will become an American Idol superstar? Probably not, but I can write, and I can create novels in every spare second I find and when someone takes the time to tell me they loved my stories and characters—it’s more than enough of a reward. And you can do whatever you like, too, even make music—maybe you’ll be singing in a church, or a convalescent center, but if your music brings joy to you and especially to others, our loving Heavenly Father will give you and I all the opportunities and resources we need to fulfill the missions He has sent us here to do

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