The Writing Incubator

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Reflecting on the idea of “good enough for now,” I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

“God does not call the qualified. God qualifies the called.” ~ Michael Bernard Beckwith

I first heard this quote when I moved to California, living with uncertainty, and following my inner guidance every day by asking questions and listening. Why was I guided to move from Maryland to California? What will I do for work? What is my purpose? Why am I here? What are my next steps?

Over the course of a year, there were hints and ideas. Social media was beginning to boom and I taught people how to use Facebook and Twitter and to Blog. I discovered places where I could post my writing for free. I volunteered at some conferences on leadership and community. I watched the women’s conference in California that was live streaming for a week. I kept hearing about the power of a woman’s voice and it stirred something in me. Then, after 10 months of living in California, I started waking up in the middle of the night hearing the words, “Get on the radio.” This waking up happened five nights in a row with me questioning and resisting this idea. I questioned the words thinking, “I’m not a radio show host. Why would I get on the radio? What would I talk about? I don’t know how to interview guests!”  My logical mind kicked in with evidence of some knowledge and experience: I had written 70 articles on grief and leadership that summer. I listened to blog talk radio shows on my computer. I had been a guest on several radio shows in the studio and on the phone in the past few years. A friend and I were playing with a 30 minute conversation on blog talk radio, twice a month, called, “Living on the Edge.”

When the inspiration continued, I followed the logical mind with some action steps. I had an idea and a place to start, even though I wasn’t a radio show host. I had a blog talk radio site. I had stories and experiences I could share. I followed the inspiration to share my experiences about grief. Tuning into the timing of when to start, I felt inspired to begin with the Sunday before Thanksgiving and end with Epiphany in January. From the loss of a brother, a son and a husband, I  knew the holiday season was always a mixture of happy and sad memories. The first action step was writing the dates on a flip chart and filling in Day One with a basic show on feeling the feelings of grief.  I remembered that Debbie Phillips, the founder of Women on Fire, had written a story about grief in the Women on Fire book. Her story was called, “Grief Relief,” and she had also led workshops on grief. So, I reached out to ask if she would be a guest on the show. She said, “Yes,” immediately. That was Show #2. From experience, I knew that Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving could be lonely times, so that led me to schedule the shows at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, as the sun was setting, and to limit the recording of shows in advance. I would be there live, every night with an open chat line for anyone who wanted to share their voice, or to call into the show and talk with me.

When I started the shows, I had plans for the first week with ideas and guests, and from there the magic happened. Friends started to contact me with suggestions for guests and topics: a daughter whose mother had Dementia, a woman who had survived a house fire, a transgender man who talked about grieving the loss of your old self to claim who you really are, a chaplain who worked at Ground Zero during the year after 9/11. As the show continued, other guests reached out and asked to be on the show. In the end, there were 27 guests and 17 shows, sharing my own stories of grief. (Here is an interesting tidbit: most of the guests had never been on the radio. I was a new radio show host supporting the voices of guests who had never been on the radio.)

 “My good enough for now” has a more positive meaning. It is, “this is what I know how to do now and I am going for it.“ My good enough for now says: Start with something. Follow the inspiration. In the act of doing, you are becoming. “God does not call the qualified. God qualifies the called.” The people, the resources will be there. The skills will be developed. “Good enough for now,” is part of the learning process. It is a place to begin. At the end of the series of 44 radio shows in 45 days, I was a radio show host. I was on the radio on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I did it! I became a host and when I had the inspiration to start Heal My Voice, radio became one of the tools to use for a woman to talk about her story and speak it out loud. Radio shows with the authors started around the sixth month of the nine-month program. It was a preview of a woman’s story and the process of healing and discovering. Some of the women went on to host their own radio shows with additional coaching and practice with me.

When I started the radio show, I was 54 years old. I add that as a reminder that we do not live our entire lives when we are in our 20s and 30s. You will continue to find new things to explore, new ways to stretch and build on your life experience. There will be things you do not know how to do, but you are inspired to learn them. And you will!

One more story comes to mind to share. When I started Heal My Voice, I was in tune with the power of women using creativity as a way to connect with feelings around trauma, loss and grief. I started with writing because I loved to write, I had some experience of working with women on The Conscious Choices Evolutionary Woman Book (which I didn’t know how to do until I did it!), and I also knew that all I needed was a computer, WiFi and a cell phone. I could lead a writing program using technology, and could continue it from anywhere in the world. The stability of the program was in me.

This was a grassroots organization with a low budget. I wanted women to hold their words in their hands. So, I researched places to self-publish books and I found CreateSpace as a way to start. Josie Thompson donated her skills as a graphic artist for the first book cover. I didn’t know what I was doing, but with the “good enough for now,” I uploaded a template from CreateSpace, then uploaded the document and put it on Amazon. The authors who were in the program, and contributed to the book, also raised money to donate 60 books to women in prison.  

Recently, I wrote a study guide for the first Heal My Voice book: Fearless Voices: True Stories by Courageous Women. As I read the stories again, I remembered how hard it was to format the book and how much I have learned by formatting 11 books. It was hard in 2011, partly because I hadn’t done it before and partly because of the limitations of CreateSpace with a Macbook, at that time. While creating the study guide, in May, I decided to update the first book with my acquired expertise and to add a Kindle book, which wasn’t possible in 2011 with the format available to me. Updating the paperback book and adding Kindle, I formatted both with, “what I know now, good enough for now,”mentality, based on the skills and resources I had available to me.

Last week we talked about perfection in Consciously Woman. In this continued reflection, I move to the present.

Right now, I am leading a new program called, The Writing Incubator. In my logical mind, I know I have experience in a variety of areas. I have led writing programs for 10 years, and worked with over 200 women.  I have a foundation of what the programs have been in the past and at the same time, I can feel that something is shifting. Something new is emerging and I am in, “the process of knowing.” This is the first Writing Incubator. The women are writing their own books: memoirs, fiction, poetry, and informational books. I am also working with one man who is in his own group, for now. Separate from the women. This is new.

Every day, I feel into the energy that is in the group, I review the daily inspiration I was going to share and I listen to the unseen. I trust more of who I am. I know that even when I cannot see the whole picture I am being guided into something that will support me and the people who are writing. I am leading women into the soul of their writing and what will emerge will be their own books where they are the soul author. (I meant to write sole author, but I like the way soul emerged instead!) Some day I will look back and see what this has become. For now, the small group of women are pioneering something new with me. We are all in the process of becoming and what we are doing is more than, “good enough for now.”

(The Writing Incubator is open for enrollment until June 22, 2018: Click here to register: http://healmyvoice.org/writing-incubator/)


Written by: Andrea Hylen; Heal My Voice

(Photo from WomanTalk Live in Maryland)

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