Where the Fight Is Won or Lost

Where the Fight Is Won or Lost

You can learn the craft of writing any way you choose: you can take a course, you can read a book about writing, you can read great writers until your eyeballs bleed. There is no one way to learn what you need to know about writing. And that’s because the craft of writing is not what you’re fighting to learn.

My experience having mentored hundreds of aspiring authors, is that the fight is never to ‘learn the craft.’ The fight is learning to deal with yourself: your resistance. Your own feelings of worthlessness. Your sense that you’re a fraud. Your belief that no-one will care about anything you have to say. Your conviction that you’re wasting your time.

These tricksters of our own consciousness sabotage our mental space; they make a lot of noise; they kidnap our sense of what’s possible.

But we cannot negotiate with such terrorists.

 

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

If we want to write, we have to fight. What we finally produce and gift to the world through our writing has been hard-won. Far from witnesses. We succeed when we battle past self-doubt. We win when we write even when we’re not in the mood. We are victorious when we edit our work, and can let go of whatever does not serve our story.

We think that ‘success’ means publication. Book deals. Book tours. But that’s not where our mastery lies. It lies ‘behind the lines,’ or in our case, between the lines. it lies in the work no-one sees, the work it takes for us to believe in our stories and shout our worth to the world. It lies in every word you commit to the page.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

Bedrock

Virginia can’t say if she is claustrophobic herself. She’s never been this far inside a cave before. The little spelunking she did as a child along the coast of the Western Cape was hide-and-seek with bare-footed cousins, in sea-carved rocky alcoves.

8 Reasons to Write Your Story

As an author and writing mentor, my days are spent writing stories and helping others to write theirs. But every writer I’ve ever worked with (myself included) throws themselves down this emotional garbage chute: why should I write my story? Who will care? What does it matter?

Books Are Like Besties

I equate the experience of reading a good book to sitting alongside my bestie and listening to her share a story in a raw and relatable way. I’m there in the story with her, her words evoking a variety of uncontained visceral responses. I’ve been known to snort, laugh...

A Simple Exchange of Niceties

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. - Wallace Stevens The first available appointment was for next week only. That was in nine days time. Enough time for hands, brains, eyelids and knee joints to form according to the charts. I took a walk. I needed...

In That Place

In That Place When you find it Come back and tell us. What did you see in that starless dark? What heavens deserted you and how did you survive those broken nights in the jungle not knowing if you would ever be found again? How did you crawl from your bed...

Artist-in-Reticence

A month ago, I found out that I was going to be a literary artist-in-residence. I was shocked and delighted, but also uncomfortably pleased with myself for managing to secure such an opportunity. I felt honoured. And excited. Yet an underlying sense of hubris was...

People with Passion: An Interview with Van Jones

People with Passion: An Interview with Van Jones

The first time I met Van Jones, we had a fight. I had just landed in the US to do a year of law at Yale, and had ventured out to my first party. I was one of the few with a weird accent and I was trying to find my people.

I decided I didn’t like him and hoped I’d never bump into him again. But Yale Law School isn’t a big place and we ended up in several classes together. He was annoyingly smart and incisive. He challenged all the professors – so I realised our initial encounter wasn’t unusual. And as my year at Yale went on, Van Jones became one of my closest friends.

He introduced me to Prince’s music.

He read my essays and told me to write less complicated sentences. ‘Keep it simple with a subject, a verb and an object.’

He was a commanding presence and headed up a hunger strike in response to the internment of the Haitians on Guantanamo Bay, rallying students and academics.

 

We graduated from Yale together and without family to celebrate with, I was so grateful to be invited by his parents to join them for graduation dinner.

I knew back then he’d do something significant with his life.

As the years have passed, I’ve watched him navigate the highs as well as the lows of his career, from working in the Obama administration, to being a CNN reporter during and post the election of Trump, to him now hosting his own TV show, The Van Jones Show. He’s the author of three New York Times bestselling books, including his most recent, Beyond The Messy Truth. He’s a gifted thinker and speaker.

This month, I managed to corner him for an hour, to talk to him about the qualities that make him who he is. I’m so excited to share this inspiring interview with one of the most powerful voices of our time.

Doppelganger

You are my terrible twin.We were knotted together even as I slipped,womb-blinded, from the darkness into light,the cord severed. We will always be as Janus was,selves torn between the ancient facethat looks forward from the doorwayand the young one that looks...

I Know What Stops You from Writing

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A Loaf of Bread

‘I’ll have the one with the sesame seeds,’ I say pointing to the shelves of loaves, lined up like newborns in a maternity ward. The shop is cozy, a cubby-house of crispy sourdough, dark rye and milky coffee. Amir takes a sheet of translucent tissue paper and picks up...

8 Reasons to Write

If you've been putting off writing, this one is for you. We spend a lot of time fending off the 'it's-narcissistic' saboteur, the 'I-suck-at-grammar' bogeyman and the 'who-will-give-a-damn?' golem. But seriously folks, as the Buddha said, 'the problem is, you think...

What Would Happen If You Just Stopped?

Yep, you know what I mean. Just stopped. Did nothing. If you'd asked me this question during the past 18 months while I worked 14 hour days, 7 days a week, it would have baffled me. I love hard work. I've got what we call 'zeitzvleis' - 'sitting-flesh' - I can do...

Swimming with Details

I just returned from a family trip to the Big Island of Hawaii where we celebrated my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We experienced vast views of lava-filled fields against turquoise waters, watched white puffs of whale blows, cheered breaches of power, savored...

Are You Sharing or Over-Sharing?

Are You Sharing or Over-Sharing?

I am by nature a sharer, and am delighted, for example, when people help themselves to food on my plate. As far as I’m concerned, few things are more enjoyable alone than in a group.

I am happy to be shared with too. Tell me your secrets, your deepest desires and longings, your worst regrets, your unscriptable shames and I will not flinch. I have also learned not to judge – though it’s taken twenty years of deep personal and spiritual work to get here. I have also made a career out of sharing – my mistakes, my personal failures, the errors of my heart – in writing, with tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people.

But then along came Facebook. And a whole new era of sharing has begun:

‘If you don’t copy and share this on your wall, it means you don’t care about me…’

‘I’ve just received the worst news but I can’t tell talk about it now…’

‘Tell me how we met otherwise you’re not a real friend…’

‘I just ate breakfast. Look, eggs benedict.’

 

The 7 Day Writing Challenge

WINGS: Words Inspire, Nourish and Grow the Spirit

 

What used to be a form of intimacy, a method of drawing people in and connecting, has become a form of exhibitionism and attention-seeking, over things that – let’s be real – don’t warrant our attention, or not the kind of attention someone scrolling through their Facebook feed is able to give. This kind of over-sharing does the opposite of what real sharing does – it pushes people away, when actually, what the sharer probably needs is a hug in flesh-‘n-blood arms.

When we ‘put ourselves out there’ – whether on social media or in our writing, we need to assess what we want to share, and more importantly, what is necessary to share. Necessary to what? To the story. To the purpose of our communication.

Sharing ought not to burden our reader. It should never make us more vulnerable than we can cope with (social media invites unsolicited and often uncaring feedback). It should always be in service to something larger than our own loneliness, sorrow or grief. It should be invitation to engage. It should offer our reader a bridge into his or her own experience.

When we share, we open our hearts. Self-indulgent misery is best kept private (on the pages in which we bare our soul). But as soon as we go public, we need to ensure it’s not an open invitation to every troll with nothing better to do than judge, condemn or feel sorry for us.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

On Returning to the Home I Grew Up In

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. ―Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon I sit and watch the sun come up over Johannesburg...

What One Special Mother Did to Bring the World Alive for Her Blind Daughter

What sort of people do we want to be? What sort of people do we want to raise? The answer to both these questions came to me when Tanya Savva approached me with her children’s book, The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo. I created Little Wings Books, the children’s book...

Who Are You to Write? (On Stroke Correction and Conviction)

These are excerpts from my diary in 2001, four years before my first novel The Dreamcloth was published. Some years ago, I decided it was time to learn how to swim properly. I mean, I'd had swimming lessons as a kid, but stopped as soon as there was no danger I'd...

People with Passion Interview with Xanti Bootcov

'I'm terrible at spelling and my grammar is horrible,' Xanti said to me. 'I think I am even dyslexic. But I have a story I need to write, and I need your help.' It has taken two and a half years of dedicated commitment, but finally, today, Joanne Fedler Media is proud...

Vision Quest

When I was two, I almost went blind in my right eye. A close friend of my mother`s had noticed that my left eye was not tracking properly. It was turning out so that it appeared misaligned, and so a trip to the eye doctor`s was quickly arranged. I was examined and...

Nobody Can Do This, But Me

When I was younger, I believed I needed rescuing.One day, sitting at an airport, I realised I didn’t want to be that person. I was homeward bound, after galivanting with no purpose, when I suddenly recognised that I could take responsibility for myself, and that I...

The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

A couple of years ago, I wrote a book to help other writers get their story into the world called Your Story: how to write it so others will want to read it. My aim for it was modest – I was going to self publish it, and it would be a gift to the writers I mentor and a few on my mailing list who would like to come on retreat with me, but can’t for some reason.

My agent in France read the book, liked it and offered to try find a publisher.

‘I’m only interested in Hay House in America,’ I told him. ‘And I’m not waiting two years – it has to come out next year.’

This was a cheeky conversation, because despite at least three attempts (including a trip to the US in 2008 to try and secure a US literary agent), I haven’t been able to get my books into America. In fact, a few years ago, I completely let go of the American dream. As authors, we imagine that someday we’re going to be ‘discovered.’ That a publisher will swoop down and rescue us. We will be the next J. K. Rowling. But we grow up. We realise no-one is coming to save us, and that we’re in charge of our own destinies.

 

Your Story - How to write it so others will read it - out now

In this no-excuses book, written for aspiring writers and emerging authors, Joanne Fedler shares her original techniques, frameworks and strategies for life writing to ensure that your story connects with readers and doesn’t bore them to switch to Facebook scrolling.

In the spirit of mature making-my-own-shit-happen, I went ahead and invested a huge amount of money into self publication and I didn’t care if I didn’t make it back, as long as the book got into the hands of a few people and helped them figure out how to write their stories.

So here’s how the Universe works: on the same day on which I paid the last installment on the book, my agent came back to me with the news that Hay House in the US had made an offer to buy the rights to the book.

This is exciting news. Not just for me, but for all of us. Because of what it’s revealed about how the algorithm of manifestation works: we have to be 100% committed to ourselves, and we have to be 100% unattached to the outcome. And if the universe plays favourites, it picks what we offer in service to others, over what’s driven by ego.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

I Know What Stops You from Writing

    I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic And she said yes I asked her if it was okay to be short And she said it sure is I asked her if I could wear nail polish Or not wear nail polish And she said honey She calls me that sometimes She said you can...

Meeting Dylan

To begin at the beginning. No – let’s go back, back to before then. It is an apricot day in the big whirly world, spring-sprung and parchment-pink. Dylan fills the doorway of his china-tiny writing room, buffalo-tired, refusing to budge to the write or the left,...

One Story in an Immeasurable Community

Some years back, when I had half the number of children I do now and half the ache in my heart, I found my first writing community. It was at the Centre for the Book, a historically solid structure in the middle of Cape Town, close to the austere buildings which...

The Turning: Reflections on Reaching 50

I am taking the business of turning 50 terribly seriously. I am dedicating the twelve months since my 49th birthday to this incongruous milestone, given that the actual age of my physical body – half a freaking century – and how I feel inside couldn’t be further apart...

‘I Want to Write… Bbbut Where Should I Start?’

Ah, of course, where should you start? Not knowing where to begin is another reason many of us don't start writing, combined with ‘it’s too overwhelming’ and 'I don't have the time.' So say you want to write your lifestory. A memoir. Something about who you have...

Patience in Writing

I recently hauled out a box in which I’ve been stowing thoughts, ideas, inspiration and research for a book I have been wanting to write. It was packed with journals, scrapbooks, scribbles and diagrams in several folders which I will need to make sense of to turn it...

Joanne Fedler Media Spotlight: Jess Zlotnick

Joanne Fedler Media Spotlight: Jess Zlotnick

‘The purpose of freedom is to free someone else.’
-Toni Morrison

 

I started mentoring writers ten years ago to save myself from starvation as an author in a climate of declining advances and book sales.

But something happened in the teaching that saved me from another form of hunger – attachment to ego. The more I taught writers to find their voices, the more meaningful my life felt.

I began to understand that my journey as a successful author had simply been the way for me to pave a path for others. The purpose of my ‘success’ was to help others be successful, to paraphrase Toni Morrison.

I told my writers, ‘If you finish your books, I will do whatever it takes to help you get published.’ I intended to lean on all my international contacts with agents and publishers. But what nagged at me was that I couldn’t guarantee they would find an interested publisher.

In the middle of 2017, while mentoring 18 writers who had committed to their writing for years, it suddenly struck me – the only way I could ensure certainty of outcome for them was to become a publisher myself.

And so I did. Joanne Fedler Media was born to honour my writers, to bring their work into the world in the event that they are unable to secure a traditional publisher (if that is their first choice).

In the coming years, many of the writers I have mentored will be ready to publish.

Joanne Fedler Media will be there – either as Plan A or Plan B to ensure their success. We will publish memoir, inspiring fiction, poetry and self-help books – many of the genres in which first-time authors struggle to find traditional publishers. All our books will embody our values of using our words to inspire, nourish and grow the spirit.

Little Wings Books is our children’s books imprint in partnership with Karen McDermott, an experienced and heart-centred book publisher in Perth who has mentored me through the publication of our first few books.

I will use my platform as an internationally bestselling author to launch these new voices.

But authors need readers, which is where YOU come in.

I so hope you will become part of our community and support our authors by buying and reviewing their books so they can share their message with a wider audience. Thank you in advance for being part of our mission to light the world with books that make a difference by first-time authors traditional publishers sometimes overlook.

In upcoming newsletters, we will shine a light on one of our emergent or emerging authors. This month, our spotlight is on debut author Jess Zlotnick.

 

A children’s book for adults as well as little people.

 

What kind of sad are you?

It’s the sort of question that brings to mind John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a treasury of invented words for uncommon sadnesses.

And it’s the question at the heart of What Mouse Knew, an exquisitely illustrated children’s book by debut author and artist Jess Zlotnick.

Rat is sad and doesn’t know why, so his friend Mouse sends him on a journey of self-discovery. He returns knowing that he is ‘lonely-sad.’ And right then, his friendship with Mouse becomes a refuge.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

The book began as a high school art project when Jess was just 16. She made and bound the book on black paper and executed it with simple white line drawings.

I fell in love with this story and its sparse, delicate illustrations.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

But here’s the snag: Jess is my daughter, and as such, I had to exercise extreme vigilance that I wasn’t just being a Jewish mother.

I showed it to a friend, an award winning children’s book author. She encouraged me to try find a publisher and gave me the name of an editor at Penguin. ‘Send it to her,’ she said. So I did.

The editor loved it enough to take it to an acquisitions meeting. But she wanted to bring another illustrator on board to replace the line drawings.

‘But the illustrations are what make the book,’ Jess huffed. ‘I don’t want to compromise my artistic integrity.’

‘Integrity, Shmetegrity,’ I advised. ‘This is Penguin.’

In the end, Penguin passed on it.

I didn’t get the feeling Jess was sorry.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

But I have always wanted to see this little book in the world.

I was just waiting for the right moment.

Today, Jess turns 21. And today, my gift to her (it’s a surprise and it’s been hell, I tell you, keeping it a secret for six months) is to launch What Mouse Knew: a little story of friendship as the first children’s book published by Joanne Fedler Media. I know it is also a gift to readers everywhere.

Five years ago, Jess wrote this for Penguin about the story behind the book:

I’m not a stranger to loneliness.

I’m sure everyone’s felt alone at some point in their lives.

This started as an art assignment for school: to create a children’s book which worked on an artistic as well as a narrative level.

Once I started, I felt as if I didn’t control the story, but that it wrote itself. I wanted to write a story that everyone could relate to, so I wrote about something we all know: loneliness; and try to show that we might not be as alone as we think.

I was bullied. A lot. Primary school was torture for me, so much so that I’ve blocked out most of those memories. What I do remember is that feeling of isolation: that there was no-one on my side, that the world was against me.

What I’ve come to realise is that there are people there for me, even when it’s not that obvious. Mouse is my mum, the friends I’ve made since the bullying, the friends I’ve been able to keep, anyone who’s told me I am worth something, anyone who’s put a smile on my face.

I just hope that this book will help other kids see that even when they don’t understand why they feel so bad, that it will pass, and that there are people they can count on. I hope those kids will be reminded that it’s okay to place faith in others, and that when you feel alone, you also have to make the effort to reach out.

What Mouse Knew by Jess Zlotnick

What kind of sad are you?

 

A story about loneliness and the gift of friendship.

If you loved The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, this book is for you.

Please celebrate this launch with us today by purchasing a copy (or two or three) for a child in your life (or for the lonely child in your own heart) here:

 

Get Your Copy Here

 

Thank you so much for supporting a brand new author and Joanne Fedler Media.

It’s the first of many beautiful children’s books we will publish to inspire, uplift and nourish young readers.

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Doppelganger

You are my terrible twin.We were knotted together even as I slipped,womb-blinded, from the darkness into light,the cord severed. We will always be as Janus was,selves torn between the ancient facethat looks forward from the doorwayand the young one that looks...

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Bedrock

Virginia can’t say if she is claustrophobic herself. She’s never been this far inside a cave before. The little spelunking she did as a child along the coast of the Western Cape was hide-and-seek with bare-footed cousins, in sea-carved rocky alcoves.