What sorts of challenges did you encounter in writing The Mud & The Lotus?
I am very self-disciplined and motivated when I feel passionate, so motivation to write came easily. Being interrupted was a challenge because I had four teenagers living at home when I wrote the book, and four animals in the house. Another challenge was living on my savings and working only part time. I saved for a year to be able to work part time in order to have time to write the book, then I scheduled days and blocks of time simply for writing. In totality, the book took two and a half years from beginning to completion.
Once it was complete, my challenge was reading and rereading it over and over again, always wanting to make changes. I suffer from a learning disability that causes me not to see mistakes very easily—my mind reads the word as I think it is on the page and not as it may actually be. I’ve never been diagnosed, but others in my immediate family have dyslexia and dyspraxia and I’ve experienced symptoms that align with those diagnoses. It helps to put text in various fonts and color backgrounds, and to print out the work several times so I catch things. I also am fortunate to have had wonderful proof readers and a great editor to assist me with these challenges.
Especially if you have a learning disability, but really no matter what, it’s scary to put yourself out there in print, online, and in person. I try to remember that it’s okay (and human!) to make mistakes. For every person that may find something to criticize, it is important to remember there are many more that we are hopefully helping—even (maybe especially?) by sharing our flaws and admitting our vulnerabilities.
What are the parts or pages of your book that you look at and think, "Heck yeah!"
I am so grateful for the cover art. It makes me happy every time I see it. When I read the blurbs by people who mean so much to me it makes my heart so full that people have been so benevolent to me and my work. Really the fact that this book was a team effort with proof readers, friends who helped, the editor and publisher, the graphic designer, the photographer. The hand-drawn illustrations make it really special . . . it was my concept, but the team that worked with me to bring the concept to completion. Well that makes my heart overflow with gratitude because they took my ideas and made them even better.
There are many I could give, but a specific example is the way the layout designer, Amy Ashford, and editor, Erin Wood, took my cautionary notes, personal stories, and teaching tips, and organized them, integrating them into the layout so that they have their own graphics and are easily identifiable throughout. I hope these sorts of details will make the text a really useful resource for readers.