Black Swans and Rock Bottoms
When I read or hear the term Black Swan, I think of Natalie Portman’s eerie portrayal of a self-loathing ballerina who puts her body through rigid abuse for the pursuit of physical perfection. So, I wonder how it came to be mean a book that is a surprise success like Harry Potter. I guess one could infer that it relates to something rising into grace from obscurity. I had never heard of it being used in the book publishing world and found it interesting, which is why I chose this term. There are many others that I was not familiar with as well. I am fairly new to the publishing world. I just had two poems from my manuscript published in the University of Miami’s literary magazine Sinking City. I was very happy at this milestone but I have a very long way to go, especially in the world of non-fiction book publishing. I can’t imagine ever having any kind of success even remotely close to that of the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, and I imagine her life to be a fantasy fairy tale made up of castles and adventures now that she is the richest woman in England, pretty cool for someone who was on welfare at one point. It really goes to show that where there is a will there is a way and we all have the potential to be black swans and rise out of obscurity with grace. She supposedly wrote the book while traveling to work every morning on public transportation. I have a hard time just writing a page a day from the comfort of my own home. But J.K. Rowling is an example of someone who didn’t let anything hold her back and we shouldn’t keep making excuses for ourselves when we don’t write even a page a day. I don’t know about others but I find it so hard sometimes just to get motivated. I wonder what gets you motivated. I would be happy with just having a few people reading my book and just having it published at all. But motivation is key, drive, ambition. What do I have to do to get myself to just write to write the story? Sometimes I think I need to go on a retreat somewhere far away from everyone and the madness of my home at times, or the energies of those I feel pull me down around me-family members watching TV while I try to concentrate or people talking at the cafe next to me while they see me focused on the computer screen. I find it so hard to get motivated to write nowadays that I wonder if I am even a writer. Would going on a retreat help? Any suggestion as to how this swan can rise from obscurity would be really welcome. Why is it so hard sometimes to just get started? Do you think the people around us can often kill our drive? What about negative life experiences? I think J.K. Rowling used them as fuel to succeed as she herself said that she was at rock bottom when she wrote the first book. Perhaps it is the need for perfection like Natalie Portman’s character in the film of the same name that kills our drive.
Success vs. Accomplishment
I just found out two of my poems were selected to be published in the literary magazine Sinking City from the University of Miami. I am so excited because it is my first publication, and I was just about to give up on my poetry. I feel a sense of accomplishment. There is definitely a link between being published and accomplished, not to overplay the word. So successful will be another word for it, though many people also associate money with success. One can be accomplished yet not wealthy so then they would not be successfull; in the end, the overall concept of success also includes monetary gain because it plays such a vital role in personal well-being. Since the latter is true, and money is part of success then I am hardly successful.
But, I make my own hours, go for a run by the ocean when I please, go do yoga in the park, and basically follow my inner rhythm. I have food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over my head, and a way to get around safely, so I have not had the need to “get a real job” just yet, despite my mother’s advice. I believe the higher power has a greater path for me. I always follow my heart, instincts, and intuition. It is all I can really do. My instincts led me to do my own thing. I launched my own publication in May 2017 after I got fired from a sit-down, desk job at Miami-Dade College.
After working there for three years, and saving money, I knew it was time to move on and so did they. It was a good position while I completed my MFA in Poetry. But, once the new manager and employees came in, things changed. It was the more “secure” steady income-producing gig, but I felt less and less like I belonged in the atmosphere of an institution, where my lunch breaks were going to be dictated by another person and the amount of time I used the bathroom was going to be monitored. I found it went against my natural flow and life rhythm to adhere to someone else’s schedule or idea of how I should move my body and what I should wear. The other employees were unhealthy, often excepted to be sitting down for hours without going for a walk. They did not eat well, opting for the fast food across the street, the only thing quick enough for the short half-hour break. I felt ostracized because I would not engage in eating food that would damage my health. I often felt like a slave working those long hours for not much pay.
After leaving Miami Dade College, I was drawn to Love Life Wellness Center, a place full of health, consciousness, and life. I fell in love with the life-affirming vegan food, the brilliant owners, and the wonderful fitness instructors. I ended up changing my path and got my yoga teaching certificate. I wanted to be able to move my body during work–not be stuck sedentary at a desk, which had caused me health issues. I also started going to recite the poems I had written during my program from my manuscript Moon Over Miami. Since I didn’t have to be up early for my job, I could go to the evening open mics.
But the open mic events were at bars where the environment is often toxic and riddled with sexism. So the owner of Love Life, who became a close friend, suggested I host an open mic at their space. Conscious Creatives was born. Since then, we have hosted the event at various venues throughout the city, bringing a conscious, non-toxic, healthy vibe to the arts scene, often plagued with drug abuse, sexism, and toxicity. It makes me feel very accomplished to see everyone enjoying themselves at the events I host. In this way, I feel accomplished– until I look at my bank account.