Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Book Review: Where Do You Hang Your Hammock

It's Wednesday, and school ends for my kids on Friday and I am equal parts thrilled and annoyed. I am not ready for everyone home all day, every day but I also love knowing I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn and put pants on if I don't want to. I mean, that's a win. 

Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? - Bella Mahaya Carter

In Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? seasoned coach and author Bella Mahaya Carter shows writers how to use their present circumstances as stepping-stones to a successful and meaningful writing life, navigated from the inside out. It encourages writers and authors to rethink their ambitions (which may be fueled by the tyrannical demands of the ego) and trust in their heartfelt purpose and values in the journey to becoming, or continuing on, as authors.

Many writers believe their self-sabotaging thoughts are trustworthy and true. They take rejection personally. They surmise that if they don’t achieve their goals they have failed, and lose sight of who they are and what matters most.

This book is for writers looking for inspiration and for authors daunted by the publishing process, who might lack the requisite author platform to get published the way they dreamed, or whose careers may not be unfolding as expected. It aims to be the friend and trusted expert writers turn to when hijacked by their own thinking. Ultimately, it reminds authors that they are infinite creators.
If you know me at all, you know I have been working on writing a memoir about the birth of Lucy, my amniotic fluid embolism, dying, then not dying, then the aftermath in which we are all flying by the seat of our pants, and how that is really hard on a family in general, the unseen side of surviving death, if you will. 

I mean, I'm not done, but I feel like I have a solid outline and the basics in there, I just need all of the stories connecting things to make it a book. I feel like the advice of "just write, it'll come out!" is probably the worst advice ever but also the first block in the wall that is writer's block because... where do you start? I feel like, for me at least, if you give me an assignment with actual steps, that is easier to process versus something vague like just do it. 

That's where this book comes in. When I say this has kicked my rear into gear? I am 100% genuine. I have referenced this book so many times when I go back to review what I've already done, made some changes and it feels more like me. I love the author's way with words, she writes with common sense so it doesn't feel like you're reading the most boring textbook of all time. The book has so many chunks to really get into, and it feels like it is a step by step process (as writing and publishing is) and you aren't going to read this cover to cover, you read the chunk you're in. 

I loved, loved, loved the information about publishing, and the information about promoting. The great thing is how relevant this book is even if you aren't specifically writing a book. Maybe you're just writing essays to get published, or maybe you're trying to become an influencer and just need some guidance- the promotion chunk in this book is full of really great information, most of which I had no idea so I highlighted a bunch of things that I felt might be best for me. 

Also a favorite- throughout the book there are journaling prompts and that has some significant question to really get you back to basics. The very first one was the one that stumped me the most and actually a question I get asked in therapy all of the time and struggle with, who are you? Seriously think about that and strip away all of the things: your job, your family, your hobbies, your likes/dislikes, the way you look, etc- when you take literally everything away.... who are you? Part two of that is also a stumper, in what way(s) might I filter my primary experience through the roles that I play

Do you see what I mean? These questions are HARD. I mean, I don't think they are meant to be but I really struggle with this kind of stuff and I think about it a lot. 

I really enjoyed this book and it has really inspired me to work on my own book some more. The short chapters are nice because you can get through the book quickly, but if you take your time and actually do the journaling prompts, you will get so much more out of this and also get a better idea of what kind of writer you already are. I feel like it also helps put other parts of your life in focus as well, so if you don't consider yourself a writer, it might really help you get a better idea of where you need to put your attention to in your life in general. 

A huge thank you to Bella Mahaya Carter, She Writes Press, and FSB Associates for having me on this tour and providing a copy for review. If you're really just stuck, or need a little pick me up in your writing, I highly suggest giving this one a try. 

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