Friday, February 15, 2013

The Next Big Thing

My friend Joslyn Hamilton reached out to me a few weeks ago about participating in this wee little writer's circle project called The Next Big Thing.  It's basically a chain of writers talking about their next projects.  You know Joslyn as the genius behind RecoveringYogi. She's a freelance writer, a take-no-prisoners editor, a craft-war queen, a grammar nazi, a former "yogi-to-the-stars" who lived to tell the [real, gritty, not-so-shiny] tale, and generally a most-rad lady. I appreciate her candor, her humor, and her willingness to be absolutely unbuffered. Plus, she digs a good hike.

Point being: I totes respect her work.

So when Joslyn invited me to participate in this little project, of course I had to say yes. Last Friday she blogged about her newest work-in-progress, a book called Half-Assed Buddhist that I would most def buy. And this week it's my turn to sing a little ditty or two about one of the projects I'm working on in the between-times of my day-to-day life.

Disclaimer: this is at once terrifying and liberating. You wouldn't believe how much superstition and caution most of us writerly types have about speaking our projects out loud in, ahem, words. [Irony noted.] In fact, four different really fabulous writer friends to whom I reached out about participating in this little circle declined because of that very reason. It's pretty scary to put your shit out there. So props to all of y'all who are willing to do so at this early juncture.  I know that, for me, it's a big hairy scary step to articulate this little baby.

Here's to balls. And coffee. And cocktails. Which make it all possible.


What is your working title of your book? 
Bartendasana: Martini-Soaked Tales For the Rogue Yogi 

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Oh geez.  It's been percolating for a long time.  Like, 8 years. 
Mostly, it came about because I got really sick of reading crappy inspirationalist rainbows-and-unicorns-style writing about yoga.  The kind that's full of platitudes and moronic uplifting talk of manifesting and letting go.  I wanted to write something that felt real, something that felt intelligent, something that actually managed to meld legit philosophy and theology with the stuff of the real world. I did my graduate work in Marxist body theologies; basically looking at ways to ground the sacred in the profane, to explode those binaries and land the transcendent in the day-to-day.  And I wanted to do that to a hyperbolic degree, transferring the often-esoteric and misunderstood teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and yoga philosophy into the real-world, relatable, dirty, sweaty schtuff of life.   
Also, I just really dig the idea of a rogue yogi. 

What genre does your book fall under?
Uhhhh....theology?  Philosophy?  Contemporary non-fiction urban narrative?  Vaguely-shrouded memoir?  All of the above.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
I dunno about that.  I'm way too much of a control freak to let someone else take the reins on an adaptation.  Let's say: Marion Cotillard, 'cause she's fabulous.  Zooey Deschanel, for the same reasons, plus bangs.  Russell Brand, 'cause he's got a little yoga street cred already.  And Hugh Jackman, just so we could insert a sexy baritone solo somewhere in there.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 
Bartendasana grounds the esoteric concepts of yoga philosophy in the stuff of real life, shining light and humor on the aching, breaking, sweating, breathing, loving, suffering, bumbling day-to-day experience of being alive in a body.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
Represented by an agency for bazillions of dollars.  Duh.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I've been dabbling in it for years, here and there.  Probably since about 2006, when I realized I was burned out on academia and wanted to find a way to speak all the rad countercultural theological truths I was studying in grad school in words that folks could actually relate to.  On and off, more off than on.  You know, distracted by teaching asana and falling in love and drinking tequila and reading other peoples' books and baking cakes and moving and planning a wedding and figuring out Twitter and watching Jon Stewart and all kinds of other really good reasons not to actually sit down and finish it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
Umm.  I really don't know.  Yoga Bitch?  Misadventures of a Garden-State Yogi?  Stretch?  Except heavier on the theology and the urbanity factors.  And less flatulence.  And more vodka.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 
My lack of interest in the boring academic spin on this stuff.  The clear need for a yoga counterculture (thanks, Joslyn, that's all you) to balance out the Pollyanna-esque rainbows-and-unicorns spirit that tends to pervade the scene.  The emergence of a "yoga scene" at all, which makes me want to curl up in a ball and shout that "it's not about the expensive pants!"  The desire to offer a populist understanding of some of these often hard-to-approach ancient texts and ideas.  And the realization that my own life, my own experience of being in a body that aches and breaks and feels and heals, has been so transformed, so touched, so eased by knowing these teachings.  And the wanting to share that in a way that feels real and embodied.  And the certainty that you can still be a yogi if you have margaritas for lunch.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Oh boy.  Lots of swearing.  And instant enlightenment upon reading.

* * *

Now that that's over with (whew!), please take a look at these fine friends and fellow writers who'll be answering these very same questions about their upcoming and/or recently-published projects next week.




Mira Rubiano, a Burlington, VT-based writer and yoga teacher who'll be posting about a compilation of narrative essays related to her experiences as a nomad living abroad, negotiating the subtle cultural nuances of social interaction — ranging from when things have gone well to where they have gone horribly array — on her blog, mirarubiano.com.







Mikah Meyer, a Washington, DC-based professional singer and writer who'll be blogging about his current work-in-progress, a humorous travelogue memoir detailing his year-long road trip through the US titled Life's More Fun When You Talk to Strangers.  You can find Mikah at www.mikahmeyer.com — and he'll be posting a guest-blog right here next week.





Ryan Case, a Philadephia-area scientist who'll be blogging about his recently-published novel, MASALAI, a thriller that scientifically explores the origins of popular supernatural folklore (think vampires and werewolves).  MASALAI draws from Ryan's own Ph.D fieldwork in Papua New Guinea.  It's a great choice for when you want a fun escape from the real world — e.g. poolside with a margarita — and available now for e-readers (and in print next month).  You can find Ryan's post next week at www.masalaibook.com.






Sarah McCarron, a Los-Angeles based actor and writer who'll be blogging about one of her current projects, Not One, Not Two, a documentary film on meditation in the west.  She's currently at a Zen Brain retreat conducted by several of the neuroscientists and philosophers who work with the Dalai Lama under the umbrella of the Mind & Life Institute.  (In other words: wow.)  Sarah will be guest-posting on my blog (right here, baby!) when she re-enters the "real" world next week.







Chris Delyani, an Oakland-based writer who'll be blogging about his most recent book, You Are Here, published last fall, which features a San Francisco artist and the love triangle that changes his life.  You can find more on Chris and his previous books at www.chrisdelyani.com.  Plus, I learn a ton from him via Twitter.  Just sayin'.







Lisa Munger, a fellow Lincoln High grad, journalist, and yoga teacher who's now doing inspiring work melding Ayurveda and yoga in Des Moines, Iowa.  Lisa will be blogging about her current projectHip Chick's Guide to Ayurveda: Breaking Down Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life, which is a collection of regular articles offering a down-to-earth perspective on Ayurveda, moving closer toward answering the question, "Ayur-whaa?"  You can find her post next week at www.lisamunger.com/blog.

3 comments:

dionne said...

hooray for bravery! good luck and look forward to hearing more about the project as you progress!

Rachel said...

Rach! This is amazing. I am so proud of you and can't wait to devour your book. xoxo

Kelly Vaagsland said...

Love this! THANK YOU! (for all of the above!). So - when is the book out? I'm on it!