I’m undoubtedly in the least sexy part of Portland as I ride my bike around my airport hotel. Planes are roaring in for a landing overhead as I weave through traffic, but I keep pedaling. After two days of sitting inside the Willamette Writer’s Conference, I desperately need to get outside and move.
I’ve pitched my erotic memoir three times. Two balls. One hit. I somehow got lucky with an editor who extracted outdoor adventure erotic memoir from my excited, muddled delivery.
I’ve been obsessively refining my pitch for three days now but it’s still missing the plate. My head hurts from thinking. My body aches from sitting in workshops.
I’m all out of sexy.
But I need to get it back. I have one more pitch appointment with an agent scheduled for tomorrow, the last day of the conference.
I turn left on a road less traveled and within a mile it is framed on both sides with blackberries. For the first time in three days my thoughts quit trying to condense my 60,000-word manuscript into four dazzling sentences. I hear the ripe, voluptuous berries instead, hundreds of them, whispering to me in their enticing, collective voice:
I abandon my workout, toss my bike on the shoulder, and feel a little like Eve as I let myself be seduced.
The berries bleed purple on my fingertips and melt like August sun on my tongue. I clean the branches closest to me like a small bear. Their sweet juicy essence is exactly what I need. But to get more, I have to navigate through the thorny branches that have been puncturing my fingertips and scraping my legs.
As I lick my sticky fingers, I have a small epiphany on how the universe is giving me exactly what I put out.
These tangled, thorny branches remind me of mental state the past three days, all twisted, prickly and sharp with perfection. Yet, I’ve also been in ripe berry mode, flirting with everyone I meet and showing my juicy, erotica-writing self.
I realize I need both the thorns and the berries to bring this goal of publishing my memoir to fruition.
But right now I need way more of the berries.
I brace myself and step deeper into the thicket.
As I ride back to the hotel, my breath catches in my throat as I see Mt. Hood rising white and jagged out of the lavender twilight. My fingers and lips are stained and sticky. I have red scratches all over my hands, arms and legs. My bike shorts have a few new snags.
I’ve got my sexy back.
What are you working on bringing to fruition? What are your berries? What are your thorns?
If you are a writer, here’s a blackberry bush for you: Check out www.janefriedman.com
After seven years of marriage to an adrenaline junkie, I’ve gotten better at doing things that make my legs shake. Usually this involves running a Class IV rapid or skiing a backcountry avalanche chute.
Even though I hate that anticipatory churning of fear in my belly, the transcendent, high-on-life buzz afterward makes it all worthwhile.
Not this time.
Pitching my erotic memoir last night in front of four agents and 150 other writers definitely had my legs shaking. But my first attempt at a pitch fell way short of the plate.
I’m not exactly basking in a confident, sexy glow as I slump over morning tea with my Portland-dwelling friend, Jenna. And I have two, one-on-one pitch appointments with agents this morning.
“Okay, this is so Marianne Williamson,” she says. Her hazel eyes darken with intensity as she leans into her kitchen table towards me. “But your job is to go into that conference and bless everyone you see…”
She was wise beyond her years when we were bunk buddies at our month-long yoga teacher training at Kripalu in 2000. She has since added trainings in massage, integrative nutrition, the psychology of eating and vipassana meditation. Her current passion is helping her clients use pleasure rather than deprivation to lose weight.
“Let go of the fear and defeat. Own the sexy, powerful energy of the woman who wrote this erotic memoir."
I feel my shoulders roll back and my spine lengthen.
"Embody her joy, her hunger and her sense of adventure." She stands and puts her tea cup in the sink. "Have fun with it.”
She goes upstairs to meditate. I transform her futon bed back into a couch and dig around my bag for something sexy and powerful to wear. As I head upstairs to shower, I bump into her coming back down.
“Here,” she hands me a piece of paper with her handwriting on it. “This is from the Mama Gena daily e-mail, the one about pleasure I was telling you about last night.”
It’s not wrapped but I can tell before I even read it, that it’s a gift.
A woman in the act of flirting can beguile the entire world with her enthusiasm. ~Mama Gena
“You are a hot firecracker of a woman,” she says.
I hear a sizzle as my fuse ignites.
“Go flirt with everyone you see.” She smiles, turns and goes back to her meditation room.
I shower and shimmy into a little black dress. The word beguile rolls around my tongue as I adorn with gypsy-sized hoop earrings and smoky blue eyeliner. I mouth the word firecracker to the mirror and glaze my lips in red.
As I saunter out of Jenna’s Portland townhouse, my legs feel solid, grounded, in my knee-high suede boots.
I’m ready to explode into that conference.
Who lights your fuse? Spend more time with them.
Mama Gena’s Daily Fluff e-mail