By Bella Mahaya Carter
She Writes Press 2021
352 pages Self-Help
The subtitle of the book is “Finding
peace of mind while you write, publish, and promote your book.” It speaks to
the anxiety writers experience as they attempt to get noticed in the cut-throat
publishing world. In the last two novels I read, Strange
Love by Fred Waitzkin and The Plot
by Jean Hanff Korelitz, the protagonists were both authors who were suffering
severe anxiety over stalled careers and unpublished writings. I approached Where
Do You Hang Your Hammock? with those two books in mind.
Here is the publisher’s
description. “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.”
First, and most clearly, this is
not a “how-to” with researched steps on getting a book published. It is more about
how to get your mind and spirit focused on your writing first before focusing
on getting published. Carter says, “My hope is that Where Do You Hang
Your Hammock? will encourage readers to lean in to their work and their
lives with greater freedom, curiosity, and celebration.” In other words, Carter’s
book is spiritual in focus. She is a creative writing teacher, author, and empowerment
coach, and this work reflects her own life’s search and achievements as well as
her career empowering other writers.
The book is divided into five
parts: dream, nourish, write, publish, and promote. Within each section are
short, numbered chapters followed by journal-writing
prompts. For example, following a chapter entitled, A Ritual to Solidify
Your Intentions, the journal prompt is “What do I have to give to my
writing? What do I hope to receive from my writing? What are my writing
intentions.” I really appreciated the journal prompts, and I also valued
the way in which she included spiritual growth suggestions in the part entitled
“Nourish.” I got a kick out of the journal prompt in the section on “Promote”
which asks, How can I bring joy to my book launch?
Bella Mahaya Carter’s website. She sponsors online writing circles that would be valuable for people with stories to tell. You can find information on her website.