Monthly Archives: February 2009
With Maggie Bishop’s permission, please enjoy her interview that is featured in the February issue of the High Country Writers Journal. You can find out more about Maggie and her fantastic mysteries by following the link on this blog.
MaggieBishopInterviews…Nancy A. Kaiser
Give us your “elevator” speech about your recently released book.
Honestly, I don’t have one. I guess I’d tell someone that my book, Letting Go: An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Journey of Healing & Transformation, tells the story of how I survived being left by my husband of 27 years six hundred miles from everyone I knew without a home or job. It follows my journey from being completely clueless to becoming fully aware of my creation and all the steps in between.
What brought you to the Boone area?
Without doubt, it was destiny. The actual vehicle was a timeshare exchange. We wanted to go to the Adirondacks, but nothing was available. We were offered a week in Boone. I thought to myself, “Well, at least it’s out of New Jersey.” As they say, the rest is history, or as I believe, destiny. The natural beauty of the area stole my heart. I was drawn to the phenomenal energy of Grandfather Mountain. We decided we could live happily here and came back over the next few years trying to find our spot. No matter where we stayed from Asheville northward, we’d always end up back near Grandfather and Boone. Then, we’d have to drive all the way back to our timeshare at the end of the day. A dozen years later, the timing was right. We sold our farm and moved in May 04.
What inspired this book?
My inspiration to write was about survival. I wrote in order to understand the events that occurred after we moved from our farm in central New Jersey to our dream property on Three Top Mountain in Creston. Six weeks into construction of our dream house, my husband told me he never wanted any of this. I was dumbstruck and clueless. My glorious dream morphed into my worst nightmare with his words. My answer is really two-fold: I wrote to understand and heal myself. I published the book for others. If I help even one person recognize their life lessons more quickly, thereby shortening their own traumatic journey, then it’s been worth the time and expense of publishing.
How long did it take to write and what are your writing habits?
It took 14 months to write, but I was still living through my experiences, so that’s a consideration. I began very sporadically with several weeks in between sessions. Given my reason for writing, I wrote when inspired. I wrote from my heart expressing the pain and confusion I was feeling. The more I wrote, the more I recognized that writing was critical to my surviving the most difficult time in my life. Eventually, I became almost obsessed with it. I’d sit at the computer pouring out all my soul needed me to feel, see, learn, and let go of. Before I knew it the day would be over, and the next, and the next. I had an interesting experience near the end of my writing. I’d been very sick and hadn’t written for over a month. I was feeling guilty, so I wrote for about an hour one afternoon. For the first time ever, my writing disappeared into cyberspace for no apparent reason. I was so aggravated. Having learned the hard way that everything happens for a reason, I analyze everything. Very quickly, I recognized that what I’d written had been forced. I’d written from my mind out of a sense of obligation. It hadn’t come from my heart. The words held no feeling or meaning. It was trash and ended up just where it should have. I never wrote again from a self-imposed sense of duty. I always wrote, and write, from my heart. It was a valuable lesson that only cost me an hour or so of my time; a very small price for such a powerful teaching.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
First and foremost, living through the experiences that brought me so much pain, confusion, self-doubt and heartache was the most difficult. Writing was a method of expression that allowed me to learn, let go and heal. Second, the decision to publish presented an emotional challenge. I was given so much encouragement by friends who’d read some of my writing. They saw the power of my words for others and convinced me to go to the next level. To them, I will be forever in debt. To write for your eyes only is one thing. To put your writing out there for the world to read is a totally different thing, especially when it contains your innermost feelings and confessions. For me, the decision to publish was a sign that my self-confidence was on the rise, while my self-doubt was ebbing. Lastly, the job of editing became an enormous task. It took 19 months to gently cut it down from 299,000-plus words to 180,000. Initially, I couldn’t accept the opinion that it had to be half its size. I’d say, “There’ll be nothing left.” It took so long because of me. Because of the nature of the story, I couldn’t hand it over to someone to edit without me. I had to cut carefully. I was the only one who knew which of the mundane events was crucial to my recovery. I had reduced it considerably before my editor got involved. I was led to an incredibly patient and gifted editor. We went through the entire manuscript two or three more times condensing and tweaking. It was tedious, tiring and frustrating, but oh, so necessary. I learned that writing is therapeutic, but publishing is business and must be regarded as such.
What was the most fun or memorable?
Well, there wasn’t anything I could categorize as fun, but memorable for sure. Every time I’d get hit with an “ah ha, moment” was very profound. I’d discover a powerful lesson, a piece to the puzzle of my life, which I’d never even glimpsed at while experiencing it. These were the precious gems that rewarded me for all the honesty and effort I put into my writing. They were the reasons why I wrote: to understand, to learn, to grow, to let go, to heal. Writing gave all of these to me.
Do you have any advice for someone considering writing a book?
Write for the “right” reasons for you. Write from your heart. Publish to contribute something of value to others not just to earn money. Surround yourself with professionals that respect your opinion regardless of your inexperience. Be open to constructive criticism and be willing to explore new possibilities and options. Remain true to your purpose and know that your heart knows best. Even if you never publish, the act of writing alone may be all you need. Writing healed me; publishing didn’t. But, know that the first time you hold your own book is magical and enormously satisfying. Each time you hear how your words have helped another, your heart warms and you smile. Those are the moments you’ll remember long after any money you’ve earned is spent.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
My lifelong joy & passion is riding horses. So, I’m usually in Blowing Rock training my dear horse Stormy. The rest of my time is spent working with others’ animals. I operate “Just Ask” Communications from my home in Todd. I specialize in animal communication, Spiritual Response Therapy, vibrational remedies and shamanic healing journeys, all of which I use to assist animals with the numerous challenges that confront them while trying to live in close proximity to humans. I am truly blessed to love what I do. To help animals and people better understand one another and live happy lives together is very gratifying.
Name 3 of your favorite books and tell us why you picked them.
Well, mine of course! No really, this is a tough one. I read for so many reasons. How do I pick just three books? 1) The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This is Tolle’s first book written long before the Oprah craze. It came to me in my darkest of times and helped me recognize what was controlling me and why, and how to correct it. Its importance to my life is without peer. It teaches things that will allow me to deal with life’s creations in a much more efficient and productive manner. It has taught me how to live each moment in the best possible way. 2) Mother Earth Spirituality by Ed McGaa/Eagle Man. I read this book before taking a weekend workshop with Ed at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY in the early 90s. While reading, I discovered there were other people that believed what I believed about spiritual things. All my life I’d felt different. I wasn’t comfortable with any of the religious explanations of life, the universe, whatever. None of them resonated in my heart. While reading Ed’s book I felt like I’d finally found someone else who felt like I did. It was a profound and emotional discovery for me. 3) The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling for sheer fun and entertainment. I have to admit I couldn’t wait for each one and was so very disappointed to finish the last one. Rowling grabbed me from the first paragraph and didn’t let loose till the end. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one.
Since this is February, describe your most memorable “snow” encounter.
It’s definitely the blizzard of 96. Caring for a farm full of horses is hard enough in winter but complicate it with three feet of snow. The snow was too deep to even get the horses out of their stalls. Our tractor and plow were useless. While we waited for the neighboring farmer with his huge tractor to get to us, my father spent two full days digging tunnels with his huge snow plow so I could get the horses out, clean stalls, dump manure, move hay and straw, etc. My husband was a horse vet and luckily we didn’t get any emergencies, because he couldn’t get out our drive for two days. While we all toiled under the extra burden of the deep snow, the animals were in total joy. My two labs just ran through it burrowing everywhere. The horses were running, bucking and playing. My one horse got stuck trying to roll in it. It was so deep that it trapped him on his back for a bit. He was so comical. He just lay there looking up; something that horses don’t do very often. The animals have so much to teach us about surrender and acceptance. I think the humans all learned how little control we really have. Mother Nature put us in our places very effectively. She paralyzed the Northeast. Believe me; I don’t miss the winters on my farm.
What is your website address?
I would like to thank Maggie for her wonderful questions and the experience of being interviewed.
I’ve just returned from the High Country Writers meeting. I joined this local group almost six months ago to meet people, who are more experienced with writing than I am. They are a very friendly and welcoming bunch. It has proven to be a wise choice for me. I was interviewed for this month’s journal, which was my first ever experience with this process. It was quite something to actually see the interview in the Journal. I’m very new at all of this so, I’ll check to see if I’m allowed to put it on my blog, so you can learn a little bit more about me. I think her questions were very good ones as well as my answers!