Message From The Author
I’m a great believer in that old superstition that bad luck comes in threes. But I’m also enough of an optimist to believe that if you can ride out the tough times, some good usually comes from them.
Case in point: My first novel, Tales from the Yoga Studio, is about to be published. The process of writing it, having it accepted by a publisher, and watching the foreign rights bought in eleven countries has been up there in the top two happiest experiences of my life. The other happiest? I can’t remember exactly, although it probably had something to do with chocolate chip cookies.
But the truth is, I never would have written Tales from the Yoga Studio it if it hadn’t been for a sad, messy breakup that seemed, at the time, like it was going to break my spirit completely.
I went to college in California, stayed on the West Coast for years after graduation, and then decided to move to New York for an editorial assistant job at a magazine. As so often happens, I met a great California guy about ten days before I moved back east. (I grew up in Connecticut.) This was after years of dating disasters in LA and one long(ish)-term relationship that I learned was over when I came home from work one day and noticed that there were a lot fewer clothes in our bedroom closet. And no, I’m not making that up.
The thing that was so perfect about the California guy I met more or less as I was packing my bags to move away was that nothing about him made sense as a potential boyfriend. He wasn’t my type physically, he hadn’t read a novel since college (and I was never convinced he actually did the reading for his literature classes even then), and he was working in the computer field, something that interests me about as much as…well, I can’t think of anything that interests me that little. Did he do yoga? You’ve got to be kidding.
But something clicked the second we were introduced by a mutual friend. We “got” each other immediately. All the clichés were true: It felt as if we’d always known each other, as if we were fated to meet, as if we were…here it comes….soul mates. We’d be walking down the street, and someone would walk past, and we’d look at each other and each would know exactly the other was thinking.
We carried on a long-distance relationship for three years. Not anyone’s ideal situation, but not as bad as it at first sounded. (Not to mention that it did wonders for my frequent flyer miles.) I look back on it now as a truly happy time for both of us. I don’t think so much about the distance, but about the excited anticipation of our next meeting that was always in the air, those steamy reunions, and even the tender, sometimes tearful departures.
When the job market started to turn sour in New York, I decided to move to LA again. “For work,” we said, but we both knew it was so we could be together. I moved into his apartment in Silver Lake, something we’d been talking about for more than a year.
The second week after I moved, I looked across the living room and saw him slumped in a chair, gazing at me with this sad “What Have We Done?” expression in his eyes. I would have been upset or offended, but I had been wondering the same thing myself. We were soul mates, after all.
“Honey,” I said, without asking what was on his mind, “I was just thinking the same thing.”
We’d spent all of our time together with pending separation hanging over our heads. How romantic! Without that, the cord that had connected us across three thousand miles seemed to have gone slack. We made the best of it for six months, but eventually came to an agreement that it would be best if I moved out.
In the mopey, feeling-sorry-for-myself depression that followed, I spent way too much time crying and eating and boring my friends to tears.
To compound matters, I had been working on a novel for several years, and I felt like it was going nowhere. The novel was based on my own experiences with being single in LA, my attempt to make comedy out of what had been a pretty grim situation. It was kind of Sex and the City but without the sex, without that city, without the wit and glamour. One more item to add to the Reasons to Feel Hopeless folder I was compiling in my head.
Finally, I dragged myself out of bed and started doing yoga again. A lot of yoga. Daily. And when I say daily, I don’t necessarily mean just once daily. And without knowing why, I started to feel a whole lot better.
I had a friend who’d gone from magazine to book editing, and I asked her look at the manuscript of the faltering dating novel. She called me up a week or so after I’d sent it. She was too kind to mention the manuscript directly. Instead, she said: “Didn’t you tell me you’ve been doing yoga everyday to get over the breakup? Why not write about the yoga world? There’s a huge audience out there. I hate doing yoga, but I’m interested.”
And right then, the light went on. Why hadn’t I thought of that? I had more stories about and observations from the world of yoga than I knew what to do with. “Write a few chapters and send them to me,” my friend said.
For years, my writing had been slow and a little torturous. But those few early chapters just wrote themselves. “Keep going,” my friend said. And very honestly, I left the apartment early every day for the next six weeks, headed to a café or library, buzzing with excitement to find out what was going to happen to the main characters, those five women “yoga friends” in LA who had begun to feel like my friends.
My energy and enthusiasm for the novel never lagged. I wrote between five and ten pages daily, just dying to learn how all their stories were going to turn out. I laughed a lot and even shed a tear or two, something that had never happened while writing. The fact that the novel was purchased by Plume before it was even finished was just frosting.
Want more frosting? I sent an advance copy of the book to the long-distance boyfriend. He called me up and told me how much he and his new girlfriend (a yoga fanatic, of course) enjoyed it. They took me out for dinner to celebrate the book, and the three of us had a great time. He kept telling me how much he enjoyed the book, and I believed him, even though I suspect he was mainly just relieved that the novel wasn’t about him.
- Rain Mitchell
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