If you’ve been following my journey, you may remember how I turned down a book deal in January of this year because the deal just didn’t value how much I’m worth. (You can read the whole painful story here.) Then my agent and I broke up over it (though we decided to break up and stay in love). It was an act of courage to say no to the publisher. On one level, I felt confident I was making the right decision because every Sign from the Universe affirmed it. But deep down, I was scared shitless. What if I never got another book deal? What if I really wasn’t worth more? What would I do with my life? You know the drill. . .
Combined with closing the Owning Pink Center, my medical practice, and facing a very uncertain future, I was launched into what I called “the narrow place.” I experienced that deeply uncomfortable lost feeling, where you feel like the bony pelvis is squeezing you from all angles, and there’s no where to go but through the painful middle of the darkest spot.
Being In The Narrow Place
You know you’re going through the narrow place when all roads seem to be leading nowhere, you feel depressed and tearful often, you’re unclear about your purpose or direction, and you can’t see clearly the light on the other side of the narrow place’s darkness. When you’re in the narrow place, you can feel the discomfort of pressure exerted from all sides. When you’re there, you may forget that on the other side of the narrow place is wide open expansiveness – in other words, rebirth.
So that’s where I was in January 2011. It was a dark, dark, time. But having been there before, I had faith in the process. I knew in my body that I would expand into the light on the other side when the time was right.
Clinging To A Dream
When I left my traditional medical practice in 2007, I knew I wanted to be a writer and I announced it to everyone. I spent the first year after quitting my job writing a memoir that got rejected by 23 publishing houses and never saw the light of a book store shelf. Then I wrote two more books – one about art and one about vaginas that, while they’re doing well, weren’t exactly New York Times bestsellers. And what I discovered is that, as far as publishers are concerned, the number of books your first book sells matters – A LOT. So when I started interviewing new literary agents, I kept bumping up against the same question – “Well, how many books did you sell?”
Uh. . . grumble. . . mutter. . . can’t we talk about how many people read Owning Pink instead???
I seriously wondered if my writing career was pretty much over. And with no medical practice and no clear plan for the future, I was feeling more than a little desperate. But I couldn’t let go of my dream of being an author who writes a new book every year or two. I write. That’s what I do. Had I reached the end of that road?
Stick-To-Itiveness Vs. Stubborness
With the bills piling up, my husband not working, and the cost of Owning Pink depleting any remains of my financial reserves, the future was looking bleak. I wondered if I should just suck it all up and go crawling back to my old job on my hands and knees – or accept those soul-sucking managed care job offers the recruiters kept enticing me with.
But I couldn’t let go of my dream. I had come too far. I had stuck with it so long – a trait my husband calls “stick-to-it-iveness,” something that served me well in my medical education but threatened to ruin me if I didn’t know when to throw in the towel. I had risked so much already. When do you draw the line in the sand and just say “Enough already – you failed?” When is stick-to-it-iveness noble vs. when does it become merely stubborn and foolish? Was I on my way to becoming a cautionary tale or one of those success stories entrepreneurs banter around for inspiration at cocktail parties? I honestly had no clue. I was praying for a sign. But as uncertain as I felt, magical things kept happening, and in spite of my anxiety, my faith was still beating the crap out of my fear. I chose to stick with it.
If You Could Only Write One Book Ever
Long story less long, my new agent and I decided not to shop the book I had written (it was called BROKEN: One Doctor’s Search For The Lost Heart Of Medicine). Instead, Agent Michele issued me a challenge – to figure out the one book I could spend the rest of my life talking about - and write that book.
I realized that Michele was right. The book I had written BROKEN was a memoir about how broken our health care system is. But I realized that I needed to propose the solution before I told the story of what inspired me to want to change it. I decided to listen to the voice of myInner Pilot Light, follow the Signs from the Universe, and change directions. It was like doing a cannonball off a great big cliff into a vast pit of nothingness, without knowing whether I would crash into the rocks below – or fly off into the sunset. Geronimo!
Then Things Started To Shift
I took Michele’s challenge seriously – but with so many passions, what book could I spend the rest of my life talking about? I honestly didn’t know. I prayed about it and meditated on it. As I said, it was a dark, dark time.
By March, things were beginning to unstick. By April, I had opened my mind to an expanded definition of health that blew away any last bit of resistance I had towards stepping into my leadership as a pioneer in the field of health care. And by May, I had experienced so many a-ha moments that I could write a whole other book about how my mind was getting blown open. As I followed the signs, I realized I had learned many things in the past four years since leaving my traditional medical practice – many things about health and healing that they never taught me in medical school.
By June, I was halfway through researching a new book about the science that irrefutably proves what many mind-body medicine and self-help books tout about how we can heal ourselves. I was digging so deep into the medical literature trying to prove to my skeptic mind that we really do have the power to make the body ripe for miracles that I was burrowing down a rabbit hole. And in the narrow place of that rabbit hole, I found my truth. With that truth, I met Michele’s challenge – I found the one book I could spend the rest of my life talking about. And I started to write it.
By August, I was done with my book proposal. And I had gotten very clear on the number I would need to be offered in order to accept a book deal from a major publishing house. Having written two books for small advances from big New York publishing houses, I learned how much it costs to actually write, publish, and publicize a book. I couldn’t afford to do it again just so I could add another book to the notch on my belt. This time, I was determined to get paid for my efforts. I was standing for what I was worth. If nobody recognized my value, I decided I would self-publish this go-around. But deep down, the recovering achievement junkie in me wanted the validation of a big publishing house that would affirm my worth. Plus, I dreamed of getting this book, which I’m exceedingly passionate about, on bookshelves around the globe.
The Elephant In The Room
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have noticed that I was writing a lot about “the elephant in the room.” Many of you asked what it was, and some of you figured it out. But the elephant in the room was that I had finally finished my book proposal, and my agent had sent it out to a few select publishers. The elephant in the room was the waiting game that ensues when you’ve put your heart and soul and everything you are into something – and then you must release it into the world – setting goals but releasing attachment to outcomes. The elephant in the room makes you feel naked in front of a million people. The elephant in the room fills your brain, distracts the hell out of you, and makes it hard to accomplish anything useful.
The elephant in the room screamed at me, “Did you get it right this time? Are you going to make it as a writer? Or is this going to be one more book deal you’ll have to turn down? Are you delusional?”
I had to conjure up dancing tigers and tap-dancing hippos to keep my mind off the elephant in the room.
The Waiting Is Over
So what happened? Well, the book went to auction. Multiple publishing houses fought over it. I spent two weeks without hearing a word and then two weeks interviewing with editors and publishers before choosing the house who is publishing my book. And I’m BEYOND delighted at how things turned out. So….(drumroll please….)
I’m A Hay House Author!!
I can’t tell you how excited I am that Hay House will be publishing my next book, whose working title just got changed to Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself. Hay House, which was founded by Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life, is a brililant fit for me, and they coughed up a big phat advance that makes me want to do cartwheels on the beach.
I just attended Louise Hay’s 85th birthday party last week in Rancho Santa Fe with my hubby and SARK as my dates, along with luminaries like Suze Orman, Doreen Virtue, Cheryl Richardson, Mona Lisa Schultz, Arielle Ford, Deborah King, Caroline Sutherland, and more. I must have met a hundred people – not just authors and editors, but graphic designers, event planners, PR people, front desk staff, etc. – who said, “Welcome to the family.” And that’s how I feel. It’s like Louise Hay is the grand dame of the family, and we’re all brothers and sisters in service to the same great mission – to help people transform, become more wholly healthy, know and love themselves better, and connect to the Divine. Amen!
It’s definitely not your typical publishing house. I’m told I’ll be invited to speak at the I Can Do It! events that Hay House hosts. And I might get my own radio show. And you can expect things like calendars and cards and iPhone apps and meditation CDs based on what I create.
I’m totally in love with the Hay House president Reid Tracy. I adore my new editor Patty Gift. And Louise Hay, bless her heart, wore pink, sprayed her hair pink, and graciously received all 500 of us. Need I say more?
Suffice it to say I’m beyond grateful to both Hay House and my agent Michele Martin. Likeseriously grateful. Thank you Universe.
And thank you Owning Pink community! I couldn’t have done this without the support of so many of you who have helped me do my own personal work so I could prepare to step into the world in this way. And thank you for being here at Owning Pink. If you weren’t here, reading what I write, this book deal never could have happened. Count on me to lift you all up with me as we all hold hands in service to the same beautiful mission.
What’s Your Big Dream?
Do you dream of writing your book and getting a killer book deal? Or do you want to be a motivational speaker or have a radio or TV show? Are you longing to get your message out into the world? Or do you have some other big dream? Tell your story, speak your desire, and let us bear witness to what you wish to manifest.
Thank you all again. And thank you for making me feel safe to share my good news. It’s funny how easy it can feel to share failures and challenges and how awkward it can feel to share the good stuff. So thank you for contributing to the sacred space we’ve created here. I feel grateful beyond measure.
Doing a little happy dance,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.