Anyone who reads this blog or knows me also knows that synchronicity plays a dramatic role in my daily life. The “coincidences” happen so often that my hubby and I joke about the phenomenon. When I walk into the room, T.V. characters start talking about being vegetarian, doing a cleanse or eating only raw foods–even if the plot has nothing to do with any of those topics! You might not know some of the following stories, though, or how they relate to Amazon, so I decided to share a little background.
While recovering from my devastating 1998 brain injury, I reached a point where I had run out of funds. I had a nasty Worker’s Comp lawsuit going on, which looked like it was going nowhere soon. I had already sold my car to pay my rent, and I was still unable to work. Things looked bleak.
In the midst of this, I started getting nightly “instructions” to move to Seattle by August 1, 2001 so that I could meet my future husband. If I didn’t move by that date, I’d miss the boat entirely! Nevermind that my lease went until September. Nevermind that I had no way of paying June or July’s rent, let alone making a cross-country move to a place I’d only briefly visited! Every night I would dream of my future husband’s eyes and a long list of characteristics by which I would recognize him.
At this point, I questioned my sanity, but without a rational mind, leaps of faith somehow made more sense. I began bargaining for signs. “If I’m really meant to move to Seattle, then I want to be sure. If I’m meant to go by August 1, then I need something big: huge. I want my Worker’s Comp settlement to come through on my birthday. If that happens, then I’ll know these instructions are for real.”
From that day forward, I started talking about “my birthday settlement.” People would shake their heads and say, “Poor Laura, she has a brain injury! She’s totally lost touch with reality! Laura, don’t ruin your birthday by setting yourself up for disappointment.” No matter what they or my lawyer said, though, I couldn’t shake the idea that I’d get a Worker’s Comp settlement on my birthday. Even when May 22, 2001’s workday came and went, I continued talking about it that night.
The following morning, my Worker’s Comp attorney woke me up with a phone call about “an interesting conversation with the insurance company late yesterday afternoon. Out of nowhere, they’ve decided to settle for more than we even thought we could expect. You should have the check by late July.” Vindicated, I made plans to move to Seattle, and the check arrived on July 28, the day before my movers took off, and I flew across the country.
The first weeks in Seattle felt wonderful because of the beauty and long, sunny days. Summer in Seattle rocks! But towards the end of August, I started to question myself. Just where was this mysterious husband who needed to be met in August rather than September? Had I made up the whole thing?
And then it happened: on August 24th, my parents’ wedding anniversary and the day after Stephen’s birthday, we met. He had planned to leave Seattle in September. That meeting involved a whole slew of other synchronicities, but suffice to say we connected immediately through our love of writing and literature. I had hauled certain books all the way from Evanston, Illinois, just because something told me to keep them–even though at the time, I could not read! Stephen told me he was writing a historical fiction novel on Marie Antoinette; the books in question were all about the French Revolution.
When Stephen learned how much I wanted to write, he did not accept my (in my mind legitimate) excuse that I could no longer read for more than 5-20 minutes per day. He just said, “So, write poetry!” I did, and when I showed him, he said, “These are definitely publishable. If you send these out, I guarantee you’ll be published by the end of the year.” Hello? Who guarantees that sort of thing? It was October!
Did he help me find the places for submission when I complained I couldn’t read the Writer’s Market Guide to Poetry? Nope. He told me to use my intuition and just pick some places. Having a brain injury and no rational side, I thought this sounded just crazy enough to work, and guess what? It did! In December 2001, I had two poems published by a small, but national poetry magazine.
Stephen and I eventually got married– on my brother’s birthday in 2003. I won an Animal Communication Essay contest and started publishing online articles and essays in literary magazines. I healed completely; he caught Lyme Disease and retired from Life Coaching; he started a photography career, and I took over his coaching business; I published If I Only Had a Brain Injury; he healed enough to start his intuitive work again. During this time, we moved all over the Southwest and West Coast, eventually landing just north of San Francisco.
This past winter, we began talking about places to live when our lease ends. Having both recovered from massive health crises, we also talked about life goals we still had yet to meet. I’ve published two non-fiction books (the brain injury one and The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide). Still, I’ve always dreamed of writing a novel. Even when I thought I’d be an English Professor, I always envisioned myself as a novelist first.
We talked about possibly moving back to Seattle, where we met. At some point, I said, “I don’t care whether we move there or just visit, but I see myself in Seattle on my birthday this year. If we’re moving, I want to be there by Summer Solstice, so either way, let’s make a trip there for my birthday.” We didn’t give it much more thought. Then, in a separate conversation, I said, “I really want a book contract for my novel (Schizandra and the Gates of Mu) by my birthday. (For those who don’t know about this project, it’s The Celestine Prophecy meets Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with a diverse cast of characters, including a raw cacao loving Lemurian queen. To my knowledge, this is the first novel to discuss raw cacao and veganism in an obvious, open way. It also features Reiki, shapeshifting, reflexology, natural childbirth, astrology and other spiritual or natural healing topics.)
Back in January, I had planned two classes and a talk in Seattle, which got cancelled due to this winter’s bizarre weather there. Because my calendar was empty, that weekend gave me the perfect concentrated time to finish the last few scenes of Schizandra and the Gates of Mu. I completed the manuscript on a very significant date in the plot, which seemed fitting for a book about synchronicities and healing.
Two weekends ago, something similar happened. I had made plans to visit some friends (Erin and Steve Pavlina) coming in from out of town. We were all looking forward to a great visit at Cafe Gratitude, plus hanging out in San Francisco. Out of “nowhere,” a family crisis arose. It wasn’t clear that I would need to do anything, but I did need to be “on call” and ready for action. I spent most of the time I would have been visiting with friends in front of the computer, trying to figure out what to do with Schizandra: the book is done; it has a Mayan Calendar theme, and it’s meant to be a series. How would that play into a crumbled publishing industry not wanting to take chances on new writers? I couldn’t afford to let it sit in the slush pile for four years. Should I self-publish my novel even though I never meant to do it that way? Should I release it as an ebook? These questions and others plagued me that Saturday.
The next day, I received an email from Book Surge, a self-publishing company I had just begun to research. The email mentioned the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, with its grand prize of a $25,000 publishing contract with Penguin Books. “Cool!” I thought. But it got better: the grand prize winner will be announced in Seattle on May 22, 2009–my birthday!
I got started right away. The contest requires some pretty intense pitch-writing and other prep work, plus I still needed to edit and format my manuscript. Starting that weekend gave me just enough time to finish all the submission requirements to enter when the contest opened on February 2, 2009. People can enter the contest until February 8, 2009 or until they receive 10,000 entries, whichever comes first.
Anyway, it’s a long shot with many rounds of elimination, but I’m a huge fan of synchronicity, and this would be one heckuva publishing story if it happens! Best wishes to everyone who enters. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks to everyone whose journeys and spiritual service have helped inspire me along the way.