When I started out to write Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer two years ago June, I began to write my memoir by accident. I really wanted to do stand up comedy. Odd that everyone in Hollywood wants to direct, but I want to do standup comedy. I never wanted to direct.
Two years ago, I was sitting in my Saturday night milonga, the place where I dance tango most Saturday nights, talking to a movie director who also dances tango. I’ve know her for years and we got to talking like girls do, finding out more about each other, and I told her that I really wanted to do a stand up routine about my experiences with men and sex because sex is so very different in my 60’s.
“Oh, no, Joan,” she said with mischief in her eyes. “That’s a book. You can do stand up anytime. Write a book on it.”
“Yeah, great idea, a book,” I mused. “But I really want to do stand up.”
I got to thinking about what my director friend said in earnest after we talked. I thought maybe that writing about the men I’ve met, fallen in love with, and funny and sometimes strange my sexual escapades in my 60th decade could be a crashing bore for some people. Besides, there was more to my life than sex; say, for example, there was dancing tango and yoga and my family. And then there was a whole lot of the unexpected about life in my 60’s that left me flabbergasted and perplexed. It seemed to me it was an odd decade for me. I kept being surprised by what life had to offer. So was that a book? And did I have enough material to write a book?
That June, I was glancing through the UCLA Extension magazine and looking for writing course when I ran across an improv/stand up comedy class. But before I took the class, I knew I to prepare some material from which to work off of in the class. It was a free form writing and performing class given by two exceptionally talented people who were fabulous teachers and stand up performers. So I needed a platform; hence, a book. I titled it: So You’re 60, Get Over It: Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer. I used this material for my stand up material in class. Just trying out the material was totally scary and completely exciting. For example, I wanted to see if riffing about female masturbation was funny. It was.
I continued writing after the class was over. I finished my first draft by the spring of the following year. I had no idea what was good and not good, but I wrote from my story telling instincts. More to the point, I had no idea what I was going to do with the book besides get instant gratification from writing. I had few distractions in my life: teaching yoga, drug counseling and family in Las Vegas, but I truly cherished my alone time in my apartment. It got pretty romantic for awhile, writing nights with a glass of wine by my side, thinking of all the great writers who came before me, lugging my new MacBook around with me from airport to airport, from tango festival to tango festival to my son’s home, back to my apartment. I felt like the “Bubble Boy” who was encased in glass and couldn’t get out. It was invigorating.
I began to search for agents. Finally, after so many “I enjoyed the book,” but who are you anyway, ” an agent materialized. She believed in the project even though I had no “platform.” You see in the book world, you have to be somewhat of a celebrity, even a minor celebrity, before an agent will take a writer seriously. My agent and her cohort changed the name of the book before they sent it to publishers. Hence, Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer. I loved the new title; and then I waited for six months. No takers.
Fine. My journey writing a book was still a labor of love and I was still happy and thought I had given the idea a good try. After all, I really wrote the book for me – for the pleasure of having my own catharsis. And it worked. For a time.
I sat on it for two months. And then I read an article about how popular self-publishing had become. Was I really going to let the book languish in my hall closet with all my other rejected screenplays? Not so fast. I began to research some self-publishing companies. I queried an author who had self-published with iUniverse. I checked on other self-publishing sites and read lots of reviews.
And then I made the call to iUniverse on a whim. The rest is, as they say, history. I made a decision at the end of December to self-publish because the salesman said that the price was going to change January 1st and I’d be paying more if I wanted to proceed. Nothing like a price increase to spearhead a decision.
I never looked back. iUniverse sent copious evaluations which were absolutely right on and and re-wrote furiously for the next four months. I loved it. I am a re-writer by nature. I love the thrill of re-writing because it has the feel of a detective trying to solve a case. I was back in heaven. I found my contacts at the publishing house to be professional and highly skilled at what they do. I also discovered that most of these people who worked at iUniverse were contract people who had once worked for the best publishing companies in the country. The book publishing business was falling on hard times and layoffs were endemic. Out of work editors found jobs in self-publishing because business was booming in that economy. Even well-known authors were self-publishing or internet publishing on their websites. And then there was the emergence of e-books. I was in the thick of a new publishing paradigm.
Yesterday, my book went live; that means that I’m on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and many more book sites plus iUniverse, of course, and I realized that I had arrived at this point in my writing saga rather unconsciously, without much of a plan when I began the book and without much thought except that what I was doing was way too much fun.
I always tell my students that life is more about the journey than arriving at the destination. Sometimes the destination is not as good as the journey But sometimes in life the journey and the destination are equally joyful or maybe they become one in the same. That’s probably called the perfect moment of non-resistence.
At this moment, I feel elated by both my journey, unconscious or not, and by the arrival at this destination of having my book published. As in my yoga practice, I start with one intention, then move to another intention, all the while not expecting anything except creating space for the next intention. And as I create movement, I loose any and all mental resistance. And then things just happen.
While waiting for my book to be published, I tackled something I never thought I could do. I built my website on iWeb. And now I’m learning about google advertising and meta-tags. There is a whole new world out there of more journeys and more joy.
Oh, yeah, my website is: http://www.joanfrancesmoran.com