Allow Me to Disappoint You

Allow Me to Disappoint You

You wouldn’t believe what an excellent track record I have in not disappointing people.

I like to think it’s because I try hard to be a half-decent person. But what if it’s the consequence of pathology? A damaged neurological wiring that causes me to default into doing anything to avoid the ire or displeasure of others?

I hate to be hated – whether it’s personal (in the way breaking someone’s heart, not being the friend someone wants you to be or holding certain opinions about Trump or Harvey Weinstein is) or impersonal (given inherited and chosen identities – being Jewish, white, privileged, a feminist and the like).

But despite this, I don’t want to be so likeable as to be universally liked.

Such popular appeal makes us boring. If people can’t see our shadow because we’re hiding it, we’re doling out palatable versions of ourselves in search of likes, follows, retweets and invitations to dinner parties. That’s when we’re exactly the sort of person I don’t want to be.

I’d truly rather be thought of as a harridan than a ‘sweet person,’ have lunch with a lunatic than a ‘good guy,’ hear a sex worker talk than a life coach. I’m well over playing safe, hedging my bets and fence-sitting (sorry about that trio of clichés). I want to be the weather – to affect peoples’ temperature – one way or the other. As writers, artists, creators, lukewarm is as good as no reaction. We have to know how to turn people on, as well as off.

Allow Me to Disappoint You - Joanne Fedler

The fastest way to polarize people is to learn to say NO.

No, I don’t like Jane Austen.
No, I don’t eat animals.
No, I can’t speak at your event.
No, I don’t like your skull tattoo.
Thanks, but no thanks.

 

About Joanne

Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 10 books, writing mentor and publisher. In the past seven years, she’s facilitated 12 writing retreats all over the world, mentored hundreds of writers (both face to face and in her online writing courses), set up her own publishing company, Joanne Fedler Media, and published four debut authors (with many lined up to follow). She’s passionate about publishing midlife memoirs and knows how to help people succeed in reaching their goal to become a published author.

I have crazy-high standards of myself. They’ve served me well in the past – they got me a Fulbright scholarship, a Yale law degree, ten published books, an online business, a publishing company …but they are also the source of my suffering. Anything short of excellence, impeccable execution and over-delivery feels like devastating failure to me. When I show up, I do it drag-queen style – all in, hyper-enthusiastic; dazzling. After I’ve done my thing, I want to leave you breathless.

I am not surprised (just annoyed) that my body has conspired to teach me how to let myself and others down. When I prolapsed a disc eight weeks ago, I didn’t realise I’d need months and months to recover. I figured (as I did after giving birth to my daughter by Caesarean and flying to Cape Town 6 weeks later with her at my breast to make a presentation in Parliament), that I’d fix it quickly and get bJoanne Fedlerack to business as soon as possible.

But my body isn’t having any of it. It’s refusing to give me a single clue about when I will be ‘back to myself .’ It’s buggered up all my plans for the year. It’s forced me to let down three writers who wanted Joanne Fedler Media to publish their books – I’ve had to pass them on to other publishers. That has hurt.

It almost made me postpone my long-awaited Midlife Memoir workshop in mid-March. Through tears I wrote – but did not send an email to the ten writers who’d paid, booked tickets and accommodation letting them know I wouldn’t be able to go ahead. It felt like breaking up with someone who has only been good to me (not that I’m even good at breaking up – I’m still in friendly contact with every boyfriend I ever had.)

But once I’d sat down with what it feels like to disappoint others, something weird happened. I suddenly saw how I could do it – just in a different way: without over-delivering; over-preparing or overwhelming everyone. All I needed to do is show up, even if a bit disheveled, hobbling, quietened by infirmity.


As soon as I admitted in writing how frail and capable of incapacity I am,
the illusion I’ve always had about myself (invincible) shattered.

The trance broke.
The spell was undone.
I was porous with relief.

 

 

As soon as I said ‘No, I can’t…’ I worked out a different ‘Yes.’

I said NO to my old way of doing things, and YES to a more vulnerable, imperfect way of showing up. Knowing I may disappoint people has given me the chance to break; the space to heal, and the humility to admit I need to do both.

Now I get to discover who I’ll be now that I am not who I was anymore.

In the meantime, my team and I have been working on a completely revamped website to make navigation, support for your writing and resources to help you easily accessible. We will soon have dates for the next online 7 Day Free Writing Challenge and the Author Awakening Adventure (email [email protected] to register your interest), and more information on the exciting new releases from Joanne Fedler Media for 2019. And if all this sounds like I have not learned my lesson yet – just watch. I’m going to be delegating, taking more downtime to write my new book, and drawing on the incredible team I have to bring you these offerings.

Come and Join the Midlife Memoir Breakthrough

A Five-Day (18-22 March) Live Event in Sydney with Joanne Fedler

In this hands-on, intimate workshop (an eclectic mix of teaching, instruction, writing exercises, meditations, ritual, sharing and other joyful activities), I will teach you how to take the material of your life – the moments that counted, no matter how shattering or modest – and weave them into a memoir that makes sense of it all.

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Ouch – a Painful Start to 2019

Ouch – a Painful Start to 2019

I rushed to South Africa mid-December, when I got that call. You know the one. Your father is critically ill. During the 14-hour flight, I prayed. Please let him live. I cried when the lights went down. I didn’t know what I was flying back for. A protracted, drawn-out recovery? A father incapacitated? A funeral?

I went straight from the airport to the hospital to see my great big lion of a father lying unrecognizably helpless and attached to a squadron of machines that go ping.

It will be a good story someday. But it wasn’t when, later that night, I prolapsed a disc in my back, and ended up in the same hospital as my father for treatment. Two days after that, my older sister nearly fainted and was admitted to hospital for a week with labyrinthitis. We were dropping like soldiers on the frontlines of a poorly planned military expedition. I spent Christmas, New Year and all up four weeks in physical pain that brought me to tears; dosed to the max on painkillers, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants, unable to visit my father again while he recovered slowly in hospital.

Joanne New YearPain is a strict teacher. She demands attention and doesn’t let it stray from the present moment. While everyone was making bold New Year resolutions, I just wanted my body back. Facebook was torture – it was excruciating to see everyone’s celebrations, overseas holidays, or simple joys when I could barely make it to the loo. I learned just how sorry I can feel for myself when I am not upright, strong, capable, dependable, a fixer, a do-er, a person others can rely on.

With each passing day, I was shown a different side to myself, and I struggled to like her.

I’ve known for some time that I’ve been shuttling at a warping pace. I have needed to slow down. Well, here it was. Enforced rest. Enforced nobody-ness. I became someone who could barely stand on her own two feet. So I did the only thing I could – I lay on a bed and worked on my new book.

 

About Joanne

Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 10 books, writing mentor and publisher. In the past seven years, she’s facilitated 12 writing retreats all over the world, mentored hundreds of writers (both face to face and in her online writing courses), set up her own publishing company, Joanne Fedler Media, and published four debut authors (with many lined up to follow). She’s passionate about publishing midlife memoirs and knows how to help people succeed in reaching their goal to become a published author.

Sometime during this season of horizontality, I wrote this poem:

How to console
the bruised animal of the body
become the kind of hero
you never really want to be
because who would ask
for this pain
even in the name of
transformation and self-development?
Then to find
the spare change of compassion
a true charity
for everything in you that is broken
and may never be fixed
to seek metaphors
for the injury
try to see it through God’s eyes
not take it personally,
this affront to the ego;
trust the story
that is telling itself
through your wretched hours
and call in the happiness
of small mercies
like the water
on your skin;
the sun shaft through the window
that lands on your face.
 
My friend Gabriela asked what I wished for 2019. ‘Just to be free of pain, strong and healthy,’ I said. To which she wisely responded, ‘None of us will ever be pain free in this life…. Perhaps wish for pain you can handle. Or even better that your faith in a higher power changes your perception of pain so greatly and gives you other things to prioritize that you forget about your own pain. Or even better yet…that you are able to soothe the pain of so many other souls that yours becomes infinitesimally negligible. Right there is a prayer worth praying.’
 
Harder to bear than the pain itself, was the treacheries of my own consciousness. I wanted more than anything to trust these words of Mary Oliver:
 
‘All things are inventions of holiness, some more rascally than others.’
 
My family and I have had a rascal of a time. But perhaps I am exactly where I am meant to be as I learn to love the parts of me that are no ‘use’ in the world; the person I am when I can offer nothing to anyone; when I feel small; unaccomplished; terrified.If You Can Write, You Can Draw - Dov Fedler
 
I had hoped to write a different kind of New Year email to you all – to inspire, lift you up, tell you of the great plans I have for 2019 and the opportunities I want to open up to any of you who want to write. I still hope that email will be written. But now is not the right time as I navigate the uncertainties of the coming weeks – like whether my father and I will both be well enough for us to launch his book If You Can Write, You Can Draw, and how I will manage the flight back to Sydney at the end of January.
 
 
My incredible team have rallied around me, and assured me that they will make sure we are able to offer the 7 Day Free Writing Challenge again to anyone who didn’t finish it or would like to redo it. We’ll be launching my brand-new website soon with heaps of beautiful resources, materials and courses. I will be so ready to offer The Midlife Memoir Breakthrough workshop in Sydney in March (I think we have one or two spots left).
 
And as soon as my body releases me from solitary confinement, I hope to bounce back into the world, with renewed insights, offerings and energy.  

I wish you all a sense of belonging  to your body and soul  no matter what 2019 brings your way.

Come and Join the Midlife Memoir Breakthrough

A Five-Day (18-22 March) Live Event in Sydney with Joanne Fedler

In this hands-on, intimate workshop (an eclectic mix of teaching, instruction, writing exercises, meditations, ritual, sharing and other joyful activities), I will teach you how to take the material of your life – the moments that counted, no matter how shattering or modest – and weave them into a memoir that makes sense of it all.

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Why Books Are the Best Presents

Why Books Are the Best Presents

Why Books Are the Best Presents and All of Our Wins in 2018

 

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;
they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
―Charles William Eliot

‘I’m so proud of you,’ I sniffed. I was holding the first copy of Xanti Bootcov’s memoir, But They Look So Happy which had just arrived from the printer. From screen to hands is a magical transformation. I adore the heft of paper, the gloss of print. It is a tiny miracle to have walked a path with someone from ‘I want to write a book,’ to holding the book in your hands.

‘And I am so proud of you,’ she said. ‘You did it. You really published me.’

Just as she’d never imagined she’d someday be an author, I too never quite grasped that I’d actually be publishing books and the heat of accomplishment each one would bring me.

A few weeks ago, the delivery guy said to me, ‘You sure buy a lot of books.’

Despite being in an anti-acquiring phase of my life, books have escaped this purge.

A physical book is, of course, a ‘thing,’ and you can, like me, have too many of them and run out of shelf space, which is what a Kindle is for.

But books are not ‘things’ in the manner of a nik-nak. They are not tchotchkes or ornaments. They do collect dust if you are not careful enough, but they take up space in a different way than too many vases or platters do. They are more like sculptures than trinkets. They are art. They tell the story of who we are. We are defined by what we’ve read.

 

“Our books will bear witness for or against us, our books reflect who we are and who we have been, our books hold the share of pages granted to us from the Book of Life. By the books we call ours we will be judged”
―Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night

 

Even if we lose or give away a physical book, it can still stay with and in us. It has been easier for me to let go of some relationships than it has been to get rid of some books.

Books leave their traces in our hearts and minds.

The gift of a book tells someone, ‘There are treasures in here I think you will love.’ It is the most meaningful of all gifts. It is the antithesis of a voucher. It is the ultimately personal acknowledgement of the depths of another person’s humanity.

So with Christmas and Chanukah just here, we want to invite you to bookishly love your family and friends. Joanne Fedler Media has something here for everyone in your life. And let’s face it, a book is such a modest investment given the time, energy and creativity it has taken to produce it, yet it is never a ‘cheap’ gift. People always feel thought about when you give them a book.

Need something for your mother, mother-in-law, sister-who-loves-to-read or grandma-who-goes-to-bookclub?

They’ll be moved to tears by Xanti’s memoir, But They Look So Happy about Xanti’s experience of adopting two six year old orphans in Mexico. 

Or if they prefer literary fiction, my book Things Without A Name (10 year anniversary edition) is a good holiday read. It’s the story of Faith, who at the age of 34 has given up on the prospect of ever falling in love because she’s seen too many love-gone-wrong stories in her work at a women’s crisis centre. It is by far my best book – and I’d love to know what you think of it.

For the children in your life, we have two exquisite offerings – Jess Zlotnick’s What Mouse Knew and Tanya Savva’s The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo – books that encourage emotional literacy and will give you a warm chocolatey feeling as you read them.

Got a doodler in your midst? A latent creative? How about Dov Fedler’s If You Can Write, You Can Draw?

And for poetry-lovers, my 50th birthday collection, The Turning might hit the mark.

I know many of you have already purchased some (or all) of our books – so THANK YOU – your support means everything to us.

 

About Joanne

Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 10 books, writing mentor and publisher. In the past seven years, she’s facilitated 12 writing retreats all over the world, mentored hundreds of writers (both face to face and in her online writing courses), set up her own publishing company, Joanne Fedler Media, and published four debut authors (with many lined up to follow). She’s passionate about publishing midlife memoirs and knows how to help people succeed in reaching their goal to become a published author.

2018 has been such a huge turning point for me personally and for my team.

We have taken over 130 writers through our transformational Author Awakening Adventure.

We are currently running two overlapping Masterclasses with over 60 aspiring authors.

We’ve published 6 books with the help of the wonderful Karen McDermott of Serenity Press and The Making Magic Happen Academy.

JFM books 

And we already have a line up of books for publication in 2019.

This year we published 22 new writers on the Joanne Fedler Media blog with 29 outstandingly written blog posts, edited by our blog and content manager Jennifer Pownall, who did an awesome job.

In March we are running a 5 day live event in Sydney – The Midlife Memoir Breakthrough. We still have a few places left (at the time of writing this newsletter). While I was creating and curating the Masterclass, I learned so much about how we can shape our experiences into shareable narratives and I want to pass on these insights in an intimate group of writers.

Whenever I mentor my writers, the first question we ask is, ‘who is this book for?’ If you are still reading this newsletter, the answer is, we are writing for you.Thank you for your ongoing support to our writers and to this community.

I couldn’t have done any of this without my incredible team – thanks to Norie, Naila, Lisa, Jennifer, Zed and Jean-Marc who have executed on all my crazy ideas with so much creativity, brilliance and enthusiasm,

Finally, I was asked to write my Soul Story for Karen McDermott’s new magazine Enrich. It came out in a voice I’ve never written in before – and was one of those surprises provoked by the prompt.  I hope it inspires you to give it a go – what’s your soul story? (If you’d like to purchase copies of the magazine as stocking-fillers, you can get some here – it’s filled with other wonderful stories and special offers for readers).

May you have a blessed end to 2018.

Come and Join the Midlife Memoir Breakthrough

A Five-Day Live Event in Sydney with Joanne Fedler

In this hands-on, intimate workshop (an eclectic mix of teaching, instruction, writing exercises, meditations, ritual, sharing and other joyful activities), I will teach you how to take the material of your life – the moments that counted, no matter how shattering or modest – and weave them into a memoir that makes sense of it all.

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People with Passion Interview with Xanti Bootcov

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 to be publishing her book, But They Look So Happy, about Xanti’s experience of adopting two six-year-old boys from a Mexican orphanage. This book means so much to me because it’s the first book Joanne Fedler Media has nurtured from inception to publication. 

Xanti Bootcov - But They Look So HappyWhen they adopted their boys, Xanti and her husband knew their sons had suffered untold abuse and neglect, but they believed that love would heal all wounds. Life didn’t turn out that way. This is a heart-wrenching journey into one family’s experience of adoption as two adopted boys struggle to become part of a caring family and Xanti faces the fact that her love will forever be unrequited.

It is a heroic memoir, in which Xanti learns to value everything she gave even in the face of rejection, and will make you think about what it means to be a ‘mother’ in a completely new way.

 

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS WONDERFUL NEW AUTHOR
BY BUYING A COPY OF HER BOOK

Why She’s Fabulous

 

Xanti was born in the late ’60s and grew up in South Africa. As a little girl, she found out how powerful writing could be when her first-grade teacher asked the class to write an essay. She learned that it wasn’t a good idea to write about having a teacher who shouted all the time. It took her another forty-five years to show her writing to anyone.
 
Xanti - But They Look So Happy
She started travelling at the age of fourteen and has lived in seven countries. She learned something new from each, which has added to her eclectic lifestyle. She’s been through earthquakes, volcano eruptions and a couple of fires. But her life changed completely after she witnessed the realities of abandonment and abuse in a Mexican orphanage, and that’s when she adopted her two sons. Her experiences as an adoptive mother have shaped her view on parenting, childhood and everything else that matters.
 

Xanti is fascinated by the human psyche and longs to understand the reasons we do the things we do and it’s this perspective she applies to writing her memoir. Xanti is no ordinary person, no stereotypical ‘mother.’ She is a gypsy-hippie-lover-of-all-creatures and has a unique voice that permeates this wrenching, and honest account of her efforts to be a mother to her two boys. 

Here’s my People with Passion interview with Xanti:

If you want to learn more about Xanti, you can visit her website at www.xantibootcov.com or check out her Facebook page.

 

When Xanti and her husband adopted two six-year-old boys from a Mexican orphanage, they knew their sons had suffered untold abuse and neglect. But they couldn’t leave them where they were. Xanti believed love would heal all wounds. She was wrong. This is a heart-wrenching journey into one family’s experience of adoption as two adopted boys struggle to become part of a caring family and a mother faces the fact that her love will forever be unrequited. This is a heroic memoir by a debut author who learns to value everything she gave even in the face of rejection.

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People with Passion Interview with Tanya Savva

'I love this part the best,' I said to my husband this morning. I had just finished nominating Tanya Savva's new book, The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo for the NSW Premier Literary Awards. There's something deeply happy-making about helping other people reach their...

People with Passion Interview with Tanya Savva

People with Passion Interview with Tanya Savva

‘I love this part the best,’ I said to my husband this morning.

I had just finished nominating Tanya Savva’s new book, The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo for the NSW Premier Literary Awards.

There’s something deeply happy-making about helping other people reach their dreams. I never could see myself in pompoms and a miniskirt, but I love being someone’s cheerleader.

Since word has gotten out that we’re now PUBLISHING BOOKS (like for real), we’ve had a steady flow of submissions from aspiring authors. I’ll always consider a manuscript, no matter where it comes from, but what makes Joanne Fedler Media different is that I created it to publish the writers I’ve mentored. I wanted to promise them certainty of outcome – that if they finish their books, they won’t have to search for an agent, or languish in slush piles. We will publish them. And we’ll pile all our love and energy into getting their books into the world.

See for me, a book is not just about a great story, or beautiful writing or even what’s ‘commercially viable.’  It’s a chunk of the person who wrote it – their soulful bits. It’s a pop-up of their consciousness, a hologram of their values, and beliefs. Someone could write like Liane Moriarty but if she’s a bitch, I wouldn’t be interested. Prose like Toni Morrison only impresses me if the writer isn’t a princess. I don’t want to have to deal with a diva. Man, life is too short.

I love books because I love the people who write them (just listen to the humility, intelligence and sensitivity of a writer like George Saunders to appreciate the magnificence of Lincoln in the Bardo). Publishing is about the relationships I get to form with writers, and about sharing their growth and transformation as they become authors, and we learn to become better publishers.

I want to know the person behind the book. What do they love? What have they lost? What does this book mean to them?

That’s why we interview our authors on my People With Passion series. You can watch my interview with Tanya below. What has it been like to raise a blind child? Why did she write this book? What does she hope the book will do for others? These are some of my questions to her. Warning: tissues may be required.

Tanya is in my Masterclass where she is writing a memoir about raising a child with special needs as a single mother, and the choices she’s made to live aligned with her soul purpose, in the face of adversity. She is passionate about empowering women who care for others to create inner freedom and joy no matter their circumstances and runs carer retreats for mothers with children with special needs.

Mackenzie is a magical and confident imp of a girl who continues to triumph through challenges she has faced since birth. She is an exceptional storyteller, horse rider and piano player, and creates joy and laughter wherever she goes with her cheeky and hilarious disposition. A true creative spirit, she shares her unique vision of the world with all those whose lives she touches.

To follow Tanya and Mackenzie’s journey, visit www.tanyasavva.com


If you order your copy now, you will receive a limited edition of The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo in this gorgeous packaging, signed by the author. As a special bonus, you will also receive a link to the audio version of the book spoken by Mackenzie. 

How can you resist?

(What better Christmas or Channukah gift can you think of for a child in your life?)

How Do You Say the Thing You Are Not Allowed to Say?

“What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak....it was born in the moments when we accumulated silent things within us.” - Gaston Bachelard There are things we are allowed to say and things we are not allowed to say. We...

Sharon Can’t Tell You Her Story

Sharon and I clicked the first time we met. We slipped into an intense friendship with ease and it felt as if we'd known each other forever. Sharon was the kind of girl you didn't forget after the first time you met her. She was funny, with the body of a cheer leader...

Where Is My Writing Voice?

When I heard the question, “How do I find my writing voice?” I had this vision of searching my house. Looking behind the cushions on the couch, checking amongst the debris long forgotten in the back of my wardrobe, maybe even turning out the rubbish bin in my...

My Triumvirate: Meditation, Mantra and Memoir

I’m in the early stages of writing my memoir. At this point, I’m hunting, gathering, pulling things out and looking to see if and how they fit. I’m reliving scenes, moments, memories. Some are painful. Some are lighthearted. I smile as I write about the lighthearted...

Beaten to Love

I was born in South Africa in 1949. My father was Charles, a doer man from a Calvinistic family who spent days and nights drinking in the pub, coming home drunk and then beating my mother, me and my sister. My humanitarian mother, Isabella, was rebellious and an...

Twelve Things Your Mum Was Right About

There’ll come a point in your life when you’ll suddenly have a flashback to your childhood. And it will be your mother’s voice. And you will concede – graciously or otherwise – that all those irritating things she used to say to you when you were a kid were actually...