Was reading her interview with Eckhart Tolle before getting discharged from the hospital this morning. Thought about that tonight (middle of the night, home, but wide awake at 2:30 am), and decided to write to Oprah.
This is what I wrote before whittling it down to 2,000 characters.
I was sitting in a hospital this morning, waiting for my discharge, reading your interview with Eckhart Tolle. Don’t worry, I don’t have some fatal disease, just a chronic one: Chrohn’s. Anyway, the interview made me think about my novel, which is exactly the kind of book that you don’t normally recommend, because it’s not inspirational — quite the opposite. It’s satire. What it does, though, is tell the other side of the story. “Fear and Yoga in New Jersey” is all about ego, it’s about the thinking traps Tolle warns about — in this case, a stressed-out yoga teacher who thinks she’s better than everyone else because she’s so politically and ecologically correct. Her week goes terribly, comically wrong, starting with a flood caused by her chakra meditation fountain overflowing. This leads to a wild goose chase for feng shui cures, but the more Nina tries to control things, of course, the worse it gets.
I’ve been having a hard time getting traction with this book (published in March by St. Martins), because nobody loves a second novel, but I think it follows in the tradition of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton and that, while funny, it actually tackles big ideas. It’s not chic lit, it’s not inspirational. It’s about the way we women sabotage ourselves. I would love to send it to you. I really think it deserves to be read, and not just in New Jersey.
A little about me. My illness led me down a path of freelancing, but when a successful freelance career left me empty, I did “The Artist’s Way” and went back to my childhood dream of writing novels. Most journalists don’t have any idea how to get back to that childhood place where they can invent things. But it is possible. I’m now working on my third novel, under contract.
In addition, I’ve started a community news blog, baristanet.com that’s been named the #1 placeblog in America. We really kick the local newspaper’s butt and are getting a ton of local advertising. And I’m very proud to say that I’ve helped many local entrepreneurs launch businesses through baristanet. (My colleague calls us “venture humanists.”) So I live a very rich and full and connected life.
Anyway, I’m glad my Mom found “Oprah” in the hospital gift shop. Tolle has given me lots to think about.
So will this make all the difference in the world and set me on the path to fame and fortune? Well, Eckhart Tolle would tell me it’s just ego to want that. To be attached to that result. No, what I wanted to do was to write Oprah. If she thinks I’m worth a nanosecond of her time, that’s winning the cosmic PR lottery.
What I did was put 45 minutes into pitching my story to the most powerful popularizer in the world. It’s like a message in a bottle. Or a ship in a bottle. As I whittled and whittled to get down to 2,000 characters (and they count spaces!), I was crafting a miniature of my life. Better than tossing and turning or taking a sleeping pill, right?