[December] long, but it’s been a while since we’ve done a full-on Author’s Journey.
Thrilled we’re here and we have a special someone with us. Would you like to introduce him?
Mark: Those of you that are following us know that I’m Mark Gibson, author of Served in Silence. You can find out more at ServedinSilence.com.
Super excited to introduce and honored to have Aaron Borelli with us today to talk about the support system that authors need. Helping them achieve their goals. Say hi to our guests Aaron.
AB: Sure. Hello everybody. I’m happy to be here. I’ve watched all the other podcasts. They’ve been great. I think this is an excellent opportunity for you to share your story and for other authors to learn from you. I’ve been part of this process. It’s great to be part of one of these.
Mark: Absolutely. He’s also known as Mr. Wonderful, because he is my partner.
Jenn: Which I did put in the post for this. Saying aka Mr. Wonderful, for those that don’t know your actual name.
It is the end of December; we are on Episode 19. If anyone is watching this for the first time and has no idea who we are… Mark you already introduced yourself. I’m Jenn Grace, CEO of Publish Your Purpose Press and this is our Podcast “An Author’s Journey”.
We have been working with Mark since June of 2017. We’ve been chronicling this journey of you being an author.
Today it organically happened where Aaron happened to be home, because it is the holiday break time, and you, Aaron, are the behind the scenes support system that I think every author needs but sadly, not every author has.
For a lot of authors they don’t have a support system or they have a spouse, or partner, or live-in mother, or sibling that’s the complete opposite; where they’re totally UNsupportive. I would love to highlight the ways in which the two of you have been supporting each other. And then maybe we can give some tips and ideas we might be able to brainstorm on how people that don’t have that [support] might be able to get that. Because sometimes the people closest to you are sometimes the people that are most threatened by your sharing your story or writing your book, or, as in your case, to writing your memoir. It scares a lot of people when you take a plunge like this.
Let’s go way back, now that we have Aaron with us. We can get the dirt here. How long had Mark been starting and stopping and working on this prior to our collaboration back in June?
AB: It seemed like several years. I know we had talked on and off about it for most of our relationship and we’ve been together for four years. There were certainly starts and stops. He had mentioned wanting to write this book. I knew he had made some starts with it and it didn’t seem like he ever really got that far. I had never had the chance to read any of what he had written, so even if he did talk about working on it, I wasn’t sure how much had actually gotten written because I didn’t see anything. So, I’m sure for several years.
Mark: Early on in the Author’s Academy I learned, in one of the weeks, about the support system. I think it’s so important. Especially for those that may not have someone like Mr. Wonderful that’s readily available. It’s your support system not only to champion your victories, but really there to help pick you up when you’re just not feeling it. Those days are going to be there.
I know Jenn is not going to sugarcoat it and say it’s all happy and butterfly kisses all the time, because it’s not. I really took stock in that and I made sure that I enlisted the support of neighbors. And friends. And family. It’s a silent accountability piece too, because now you have somebody else that is championing you. Aaron can see on my white board (next to my desk here), my list of things to do. Casually walking by, he can say “How is the front matter going?” “How is the back matter going?”
AB: Where is it going?
Mark: “And I’m here to review those for you.” It’s been really nice.
Jenn: Would you say that there has been any point in the process that has been more of a struggle? It hasn’t been that long since you read it for the very first time. That’s a whole other kind of unveiling. If I’m not mistaken, when Fern was on the show, she might have said something about knowing more about Mark during this
process than you probably had because it was so exposing working together? So what was it like for you, the first time, as the significant other of the author, to finally see what your partner has been working on for so long?
Mark: Let me tee it up real quick. What happened is… it’s a memoir folks. It’s deep, it’s personal, it’s raw, it’s emotional. Like Fern said, those of you that have been watching, Fern is a friendly face to the podcast, we had to get real close and intimate fast because she’s going to help me write this. Well, at that point, I’m still feeling like it’s not good enough; I don’t know. It wasn’t until after the Flame kick-off party that our awesome editor swoops in to give the 30,000 foot view.
Those of you that watch the podcast know that Jenn did a one-two trickery on me and changed the entire agenda, by design. Aaron was with me at the lake. He could just see it. My whole demeanor changed. My face changed ten minutes prior. “Yeah, about that agenda Mark, that you’ve been working on, hand-outs, pdf’s, baking cookies and getting ready for it? Yeah, we’re not talking about that. We’re going to give an editorial review.” I’m like a deer in the headlights. Oh crap. Aaron is going to be on this call. And now he’s going to hear from the editor, for the first time.
AB: Like many people, and probably like a lot of people who want to tell their story… Although Mark is extremely outgoing and a very confident person and has accomplished a lot in his life, he also has a sensitive side to him and really cares about what other people think of him and what he puts out there. He was kind of bracing for impact when it was time to get that editorial review, because he does value the PYP team and what people with that experience think.
Up to that point, I hadn’t read [the manuscript] so he wasn’t getting any feedback from me. When I first had the opportunity to read it… First of all I was extremely excited because I finally get to read this memoir that he’s been talking about for years. I’d heard little snippets here and there. I heard him working with Fern and with you, Jenn, and with other people for all these years. So, finally to be able to dive into it? I was ready; I was excited. I was like “Yes, give me that book. Let me at it.”
Mark: I went for a run. I was stressed. I had to get out of there.
Jenn: I would be too.
AB: It was wonderful. It was a great experience. In addition to it being a great book, a great memoir, it was very rewarding and a great, kind of surprise (not sure that’s the right word.) I was pleased. It actually was a really good story. It read really well. It kept me wanting to turn the page. Although I’m reading about someone I know and have known for several years, I’m reading a part of him that I never
met. I’m getting insights and I’m getting a look and a view into this person that I’m in a relationship with, in a way that most people don’t get for their partner. To read his story and see… well things started coming together. It made sense. It was a lot of eye opening times, where “OH! That’s why he is that way”, or “Oh, now THAT makes sense.”
Mark: And the little anecdotes and the stories. Jenn, I don’t know if you know this, for viewers, I go back and listen to that recording several times where Heather graced us with her presence and she just got right down to the task of the day. She said in her review, that it was interesting to get to know you in the first few pages and after about page twenty, I had to hang on tight because it’s one hell of a ride. I just took that as a sign of confirmation. Okay, I think I can let him read it now.
AB: The other nice thing was that it was finally giving me my entrance into that world, because I was always kind of on the periphery. Yes, I was always his support system and I knew what was going on. I supported him in the Author’s Academy and on this journey, but he finally was letting me… it was unlatching the rope and saying “come on into this world” and that’s what was sort of missing all this time. Although, like I said, I knew enough about the process, but now I finally feel like I’m part of this project. And since then, now that I’ve read it a few times, I feel like I’m even more of a support system and able to help in a different way than what I could do before I had read it.
Jenn: Mark, how did it feel when you were out for your run, knowing that [Aaron’s] now reading this for the first time? What levels of chaos were brewing inside of you?
I have writing a memoir on my bucket list. It’s been on my list. Fern and I have talked about collaborating on it. It’s something that will happen. I don’t know why, but thinking of my wife reading it, for whatever reason, it’s jarring to me. You actually went through it, so I’m curious, for my own benefit, as well as those who are watching, what that felt like for you. I have to imagine that it’s really interesting.
Mark: It really is. Right after the Author’s Academy (which was 14 weeks), you as the publisher/teacher, you can tell folks, I was all in… I was very organized. I was very prepared. I was going to get the last drop and morsel of information that I could out of every week. It was intense and I did it on purpose because I was going to dedicate that much intensity to finishing the manuscript in fourteen weeks. Which is crazy!
So, at that point, there are ebbs and flows of doubt, and craziness that goes on, and exposure and these are your intimate secrets, if you will. I think it was that confirmation from Heather for the first time. Heather doesn’t know me. She
doesn’t know anything about the book or anything. When you get that first editorial review it can go one of two ways. It can go thumbs up, let’s proceed. Or, “you have to go back to the drawing board. You guys need to figure this out first before we can proceed.” So that was “phew”, a sigh of relief. And I’m glad that out of rejoicing at that victorious moment, I felt confident enough to say yes. Because I don’t know if I would have settled back into the doubt. I don’t know…I would have retracted.
I go out for the run and I think about it. I think about what this is also going to do for our home and our relationship. If anything it can build a stronger foundation to our relationship. I would say that to other people that are going to develop a support system around you, it really will be an amazing experience to deepen that relationship whether it’s your aunt or uncle or friend or loved one or your partner. But it was a bit unnerving. I think when I came back in, and he’s all settled with his beverage and ready to read… “leave me alone I’m reading”. And I’m circling. “what page are you on?” [Aaron laughing]
Jenn: I’d want to kill you!
Mark: [Laughing] He was very patient and he would tell me. And about halfway through, he just looked up at me and said “It’s really good Mark. And I’m not just saying that as your partner. I’m telling you that, because I would tell you if it’s not. Like “hell no, you’re not putting this out on the street!”
Jenn: Obviously the two of you have a good support system. What other ways have you found support? Are there other things you’ve needed to put in place in order to feel like you were able to get this done?
Mark: We’ve talked about it before – you’ve got to get this right. You have to have your mind in the right space, in the right headspace before you can write. Because if you expect the words that you write to love you back, you have got to be in a position of loving when you’re writing. You can’t be frustrated. You can’t be just doing the bills or taxes or grocery shopping or dealing with maintenance. I have consciously had to put myself in the right frame of mind… especially toward the editing piece of it. Because now we are perfecting the baby. You don’t want to go at it aggressively or “I’ve got to rush through this because I have a deadline.” So I think that’s one thing I have consciously done. Center my gravity; often it’s music. We’ve talked about music being important in my life. It gets me in the right frame of mind. So that’s one.
The other thing, and these sound cliché-ish, but I did it. Diet, right? I have to feel good. I have to make sure that I’m fueled with the right/proper healthy foods that help me get this right, get my brain on the right path.
The most rewarding, productive thing was exercising. I mean sounds pretty basic and common, that hopefully we’re doing this anyway in our lives as human beings on the planet, but it really did help clear the air, and take away the stress and the negativity, get the endorphins and the blood flowing, then that was the sweet spot. Because as soon as I came back from the gym I could shower and change and I was preparing to put myself in my author role, my author uniform. Maybe it was only for fifteen or twenty minutes. Maybe I was going to do that block writing. Maybe I was going to spend four hours of just reviewing and editing and proofreading. Those would be the three key things, I would say.
[20:30 – commercial break]
Jenn: Painful stuff. What was your mood after you closed your laptop or shut whatever you were writing in, and how Aaron did you see the difference in him. And was there a way that you had to tiptoe around him? Pull him out of the darkness? What did that look like? I can just assume that there are probably a good number of instances where you were just in a pissy mood from having sat there and wrote some painful stuff.
Mark: That’s so key, Jenn. And that affects your mind and how you’re writing. A lot of the stuff early on, is word vomit. You just have to get it out there. You and your incredible team, and Fern early on, you guys transition into your invisible, counselors hat and coaching hat and Fern knew, especially when I was talking about deployment and the death and dying that I saw there, she knew that had to be difficult to write about. She knew… “You know what? Why don’t we take a break? This is a lot right now. I’ve got it.” So I appreciated that genuine concern for my emotional well-being. I guess Aaron would have to speak to what happens when I would come down out of the office and he could tell I was in … it’s tough. Talking about a couple of very emotional things.
AB: I don’t know that I could say I really noticed that many times where it was seems like he was that affected by it. I guess some of it was maybe he had kind of isolated it. And maybe Fern had seen some of it that I didn’t. He’s pretty good at going from one thing to the next and almost acting like nothing has happened. I mean he’s a really good multi-tasker. He just kind of goes about his day, onto the next thing. I don’t know that I noticed that often, that he was really in a bad place right now. Every once in a while something would seem a little different. But, because I didn’t exactly know what he was writing about, and I wasn’t part of the writing process, I didn’t really even realize what all he had been going through. If
he was feeling that way, I probably didn’t notice it or pick up on it. And he didn’t necessarily show it in obvious ways.
Mark: I will also say that with the Author’s Academy, at least for me that I knew that I could push the envelope a little bit more because I put so much trust in PYP and the safety net. I knew that it was okay, even if I fell off the wire. I knew that you all were there. I reached out to you a couple of times. “The car is just off the coasters here.” Luckily that didn’t happen a lot. But just knowing it was there…. And it wasn’t just on of those obligatory “we’re here for you Mark.” You really were. It was 8 o’clock at night. You were probably at dinner with your family. You were like “hang on; I’ve got an author on the edge; he’s about to jump. Hang on, let me pull him back.” That part was very comforting. For those of you that are writing, I would encourage you to anticipate it in advance. Then at least know, at the time to call for help, you look up “what’s the number?”, have that read and have that in place for you as an author.
AB: What I saw more while he was speaking made me think of it was more about his feelings of doubt, or questioning his worth; questioning this whole project. He’s very sensitive about what other people will think about this. When you’re telling your story and you’re writing your book for the first time, of course it’s overwhelming. But those were the times where I felt like I needed help be a support, when I saw his self-doubt, “I don’t know if any of this is any good or not. I don’t know if I’m on the right track.”
Mark: That’s happened a couple of times.
AB: I might not have exactly known what that content was, or what that topic was that he had been writing about, but it was the overall feeling and sense of he’s questioning himself, he’s questioning his work so far, try to be the support for him. Before I had read it, I have to kind of say, “I’m sure it’s good.” “I’m sure it’s fine.” “I know that Jenn and her team would not put you on a path where they’re setting you up to fail.” It was just kind of being a support in that sense. You’ve come this far already; you have a good story to tell. I know enough about his life, his history… and anybody that knows Mark pretty well, and has listened to his stories, he is one of the perfect candidates to write a memoir, to write about their life. Because he’s done so much and he has so many great stories and experiences that I knew that this had to eventually come together into a well written product. Just have to be supportive in that sense. “You’re on the right track. Keep going.” “What can we do to maybe take a break or step back for a minute?” I think it’s really important to find something to distract you for a little bit. Step back and do something else and revisit it the next day. Or wait a couple of days. And see it with fresh eyes. And every time then he would be fine. And then he comes in, his
usual Mark self, you know, running down the stairs “I’ve got it! I did it! This is great! Yeah! I finished it!” or I could hear him in the other room “Wow!” That’s the Mark I know.
Jenn: That sounds oddly similar because we both seem to have the same style of, I say shrieking (my word), but jumping into excitement when you hit whatever it is you’re going for.
One of the things that I know and that we’ve talked about and Mark, you know this is how we roll at PYP, is that I really strongly feel that everyone needs to have a strategist behind the scenes, a cheerleader and a therapist! I say those three things, because at any given point in the day, I am functioning with two, if not all three, of those hats on. However, put the disclaimer out there, I’m not a licensed therapist (although we do have someone that we are bringing on to our team who is, for this very reason.)
It’s a lot more traumatic to write a book than I think people realize. So our team, we all kind of move within those three, that kind of pyramid. We even have that on our website. Strategist, first and foremost, followed by somebody that’s there to be your cheerleader to get you all pumped up and amped up, and then the therapist to keep you off the ledge. Or put you on it, because I feel like I’m usually the one who’s putting you on the ledge and Lisa’s the one who’s taking you off. That seems to be kind of our style these days. In that framework of needing those things. Aaron, you could be all 3 of those things. The PYP team could be all 3 and the author doesn’t have any of them outside of us. With that, do you think that’s a difficult challenge for first time authors to find? To find some magic blend. It doesn’t have to be these three roles that I’m describing. It could be some variation thereof. I want to give someone watching some kind of take-away of, if I could just find that person to be my cheerleader, then this process is going to be even easier. It could be your neighbor. It doesn’t have to be someone close to you.
As we were talking at the top, sometimes the people closest to you are the worst to be around during this process.
Mark: Absolutely. And you just talked about process. And you know how much I didn’t like that early on. That is a cliché as well. Trust the process. Trust the process. It is what it is. I don’t understand that. What does that mean? But, for authors that are just starting out, if you would take the time and clearly understand what the process is (you don’t have to be an expert and know every step), just that there is a process. That’s one. Then two, I would say compartmentalize because overwhelm will happen very, very quickly. That tips you and your mind off of your game. Then it hits overwhelm and you get to a point where you can’t do
anything. Just overwhelmed. Just realize you can compartmentalize and I encourage you to do that. So who are your cheerleaders? Be frank and upfront with them.
My neighbor, Sydney, I told her “You’re my cheerleader! You’re the one. You’ve been cheering me along even when this was an idea. I’m using you as my cheerleader.” I told her! So she goes “oh god-I’m the cheerleader role here. So when Mark’s coming along and he’s down in the dumps, I’m in the cheerleader role.” Or my other neighbor, Debbie, who is very supportive, and into the logistics. “I hear you’re going into proofreading, how was that? What did you expect?” Just talking me through it. Understanding you do need those roles. Identify them. Compartmentalize them. So you have those lifelines that you need. Or the therapist, with a small T. Someone that is not just going to say “oh mark, you’re okay” but somebody that is going to be objective about what you’re writing about or how you’re feeling so you do stay in the right frame of mind. Because those of you that are tuning in, I don’t think anyone expects to write a book TODAY, but it’s a process and it takes a really long time.
I must be really hungry when we do these podcasts, back to cooking scenario. You don’t just voila from the stove and it just happens. There’s a process in putting that meal together. And some of them take longer than others. And you have to bake and you have to do the prep work. That’s really the culmination to getting your masterpiece to the table. It’s the same thing in writing. It takes a while. It takes all these key ingredients. I was so fortunate and blessed to have gone through the Author’s Academy that taught me how to be prepared for the process. It clearly identified and helped me work through the overwhelm so that I didn’t know… I wasn’t going to stay there very long. I just had to work it out, push through, and then the next step of the process would come.
AB: For me, being part of the support system, I had never gone through this process before and this was his first time going through, so for some of the people who are part of your support system…some of this evolves naturally. I didn’t know what to expect, I wasn’t sure what my role, at all, was really going to be. You don’t really know what this will be like until you do it. And so I think upfront I was hoping he would have been more descriptive about what all was going to happen and what my role would be, and I’m the kind of person where if you give me something specific to help with, I will do it. I can read things. I wanted to read things. He wasn’t letting me. I was like ”okay I guess that’s not my role right now. I have to find other ways to be supportive.” You figure it out. You find out what works. But then once we did get to where I was able to read things I could provide that type of input. [Find] someone in your life that you trust; that is close enough to you that can review your work, be a reader, and can give you objective opinion
on it. I feel like I could, even though he’s my partner and we’re in a relationship. I try to be really objective when I would read it and I would question things. He had to be open to that. He had to be willing to let someone else who’s close to him… it’s different with me questioning things than if it’s the editor or if it’s Fern, the strategist. It’s different. That can be a difficult role. For me, luckily, I am in a professional environment where I review things that are written and I do have to question things for peers and colleagues or possibly even people above my level, and frame it in a way that “I’m not telling you that you did this wrong, but can you consider what you meant?” You have to find that balance and there’s a nuance there when it’s your partner that you’re reviewing their work.
Obviously, I’m not an author and I’ve never written a book, but I am a reader and I like to think of myself as the average person out there who will read this book. How would I react and respond to it? How would I take in what he’s saying? Finding someone like that in your life, if you don’t have a significant other who can fill that role, finding someone who can be that kind of sounding board, and provide that objective review of your work. and support it. Like you said, Mark does have that great support system right here where we live. One of the other things we did that I think helped him do this in such an efficient way and makes so much progress quickly… he told a lot of people that he was doing this, let them in on it.
Mark: That wasn’t my choice. That was from the publisher. And the publisher is the one that made us do this. And that was not comfortable the very first time. That one (an assignment from the authors academy to put it out there) took a very long time.
AB: Yeah. So he really…
Mark: You as an author are going to be very surprised at where the support comes from. It was all over the world. Everything Aaron was talking about – there’s that accountability piece there. The accountability piece kept me true to my vision and my mission to continue to write.
Jenn: Yeah, it’s been a process to say the least. I know as far as episodes coming up, we should be talking about your cover soon. We can unveil the cover. Maybe you can print out your postcards even. We have a lot of stuff we have to talk about still.
Aaron, Thank you for coming on. It was a pleasure having you.
AB: I’m very proud of mark. He is very dedicated. And he cares so much about everything he does. He puts over 100% effort into everything. It’s amazing to watch.
Mark: It’s exhausting to watch.
Jenn: I have no doubt. I feel like I’m not that far off from your level of energy and I’m tired watching you. I get it.
The next session of Purpose Driven Author’s Academy starts on January 23. We have 12 seats available. Purposedrivenauthorsacademy.com. If anyone wants to get in touch with me they can go to publishyourpurposepress.com. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark: You can always reach out to me at markdavidgibson.com, and servedinsilence.com is up and running. The book is not available yet but it will be available through Amazon and my landing page.
Jenn: Thank you both so much. See you at the launch. Or maybe when we show the proof copy. Or the live unveiling. Tears of joy; it’s going to be awesome.