Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Creating a Life Worth Living

E. Ethelbert Miller will be conducting a panel discussion by interviewing me, along with Dr. Jamie Walker and Dr. King-Miller, at 3:00 p.m., Howard University, 3rd Floor, Founder's Library. If you are in the District today, please stop by.

Okay, so I'm combing the shelves of the library looking for ESL material for a gentleman whom I am tutoring, and my eyes rest on a book entitled "Creating a Life Worth Living." Hum. I love my life, but maybe I can improve on it. So I take the book out of the library.

Instead of following the author's directions, that is, to complete the exercises in each section before reading on, I read through all 298 pages in one sitting. Now, I'm ready to go back and do the exercises.

The book is geared toward "artists, innovators and others aspiring to a creative life," according to its author, Carol Lloyd. Hey, I tell myself, why not. I was once an artist (dancer, poet, and creative writer) before I became a legal assistant, wife, mother, and scholar. Maybe I can recapture those creative aspects of my personality.

So I plunge in. The first chapter of the book instructs the reader to keep two notebooks: a feelings notebook and an adventure notebook. I pause. I dump everything into my journal each morning (some of which I post on this blog). I can't do that. I can't compartmentalize. Alright, I'll violate the author's second word of caution (like when I read the entire book in one sitting instead of methodically going through it and completing the exercises at the end of each chapter as directed) and keep one notebook or journal for both feelings and adventures. Besides, I'm already carrying too much stuff around with me, I can't add another notebook to the burden. I have this fear of being a bag lady one day.

The first exercise is to generate ideas and take one of these ideas and develop it into a project. Well, since I have a deadline for my manuscript looming dangerously close (the book is due to the publisher in March), I had better focus and make this idea for a project about my book. Now I'm violating the author's third word of caution, that is, to have the project generate from the adventures notebook. But isn't a scholarly book a doggone adventure? I ask myself.

So to justify working on the book, I imagine the book signings, lectures, and invitations to participate on panels at professional conferences that publication of the book will generate. Hey, although the book project may not be creative, marketing and selling an academic book is not only creative but an act of sheer tenacity. Maybe I'm onto something.

I guess I'm just hopelessly too creative to follow instructions. Oh, well, that's the story of my life. But hey, I think that in addition to working on the manuscript, during my downtime, I'll start developing a strategy for marketing the book. Now I feel much better.


Brandi said...

How did your panel discussion go?

M. L. Simms said...


Thanks for asking. The panel discussion went well. E. Ethelbert Miller is a seasoned and provocative interviewer.