I have a really special blog for you today. It contains exciting personal and career updates and what’s really been going on BTS (behind the scenes) with this book I’ve been writing and teasing on Instagram.
In this blog we will cover…
- How to let it be easy: manifesting and achieving your biggest goals can be effortless, exciting and fun
- Why setting and forgetting goals is actually strategic
- The critical difference between avoidance and waiting
- The specific tools I used (and didn’t use) for manifesting this goal that you can implement today
- How writing helped me in my darkest moments after my dad’s terminal diagnosis and in early sobriety
- The BIG manifestation and update on the book (!!)
So let’s get started!
I’m a voracious bookworm; I’m always reading something. Books are how I decompress and wind down at night. Books are how I make sense of the world. Books are my escape. I love a plot-driven novel, a narrative-doused self-help book, or just beautiful prose.
Books got me sober, helped me change careers, deepened my spiritual path, and catalyzed some of my greatest growth.
But I never wanted to write one.
When I launched my coaching business and started sharing my story more publicly on podcasts, the hosts would say, “Wow you have a book in you”. I took it as a compliment that my story moved them and they wanted to hear more, but I brushed it off as just that.
I always saw myself as a speaker, someone who was better with her voice on podcasts or in a keynote. Most of my writing over the last five years has been contained to this newsletter, Instagram captions and a few blog posts.
But there was a time when a pen and paper was my medicine and my greatest teacher.
In college at McGill University, when I was going through my first spiritual awakening, I told my spiritual advisor and mentor that I wanted to write a book for college-aged spiritual seekers on how to navigate these years with integrity and through a spiritual lens.
I wanted to help support other college-aged women like me who felt alone in their spiritual paths amidst a crazy party and hook up culture that told them their value was on their appearance and in their grades. Anyone else feel this way?! I wish we could have been friends then!!!
My advisor kindly informed me that getting a book deal was a hard thing to do but that she was sure I would carry this message in book form one day. Instead, I took a job offer at Google, and kept the dream of writing in my back pocket.
Fast forward a few years and it’s 2016, I was early on in my career at Google, in my dark night of the soul: I was newly sober, coming to terms with the wreckage of my past in therapy for the first time, grieving my father’s terminal cancer diagnosis. So just a few things were going on!!!!
I went on a sabbatical to Guatemala and Nicaragua. Equal parts burnout recovery, and spiritual quest, I trekked through the mountains of central America by myself. My best friend and roommate Lea gave me a beautiful pink journal with gold script as a parting gift, giving me the invitation I didn’t know I needed.
I filled every. single. page. And then some. I wrote about my drinking career. I wrote about why I drank and used. I wrote about my confusing relationship with my father and his impending death. I wrote about people I had wronged and who wronged me and what it meant. I wrote until there was nothing left to write.
Writing was a release I came to crave, much like after doing yoga for a few weeks your body comes to yearn for the stretching and release.
When I returned home to New York, I didn’t keep up the habit of writing and instead turned to improving my public speaking chops. I always kept a journal and would do entries a few times a month, but nothing consistent. I always remembered the powerful portal writing offered to me and knew I would return to it one day.
Fast forward to 2021, where my life looked vastly different. 7 years sober, running my coaching business in Los Angeles, married to the loml, and living the life that I had dreamed about in the pages of that journal in Guatemala years prior.
In my women’s networking group, Dreamers and Doers, I came across a publishing class on how to write and publish a book facilitated by author Lindsay MacMillan. Curiosity surfaced like an otter popping its head out of the water. Interesting!
I clicked and watched the whole 40 minute overview on the publishing industry, how non-fiction publishing is different from fiction (you can sell your non-fiction book on proposal and then write it) and how to query agents.
I emailed Lindsay for a meeting to learn more about her publishing path. I didn’t hear back for a while as she was in the midst of a book tour for her first novel. A month later, she emailed me back and this time I didn’t reply, having lost the curiosity about writing and publishing.
That’s the thing about curiosity, it dips and bobs, submerging and surfacing. I’ve learned to trust the divine timing of my curiosity and follow it when it resurfaces.
I also believe in the power of setting and forgetting goals based on this curiosity. In October I heard a podcast interview with Lilly Singh where she described how she laminates her vision board and puts it in the shower so she can see it every day. Brilliant! I never loved hanging vision boards up on the wall because of how it threw off the interior-design flow of my room/apartment. This offered a solution that would be less invasive!
I put together a vision board of longings, yearnings, and curiosities. Images of being on my favorite podcasts like Almost30, Armchair Expert. Images of my future home. Images of a big team where I felt supported. And yes even an image of The New York Times Best Sellers List for How-to, and a Penguin Random House logo. Why not!
While there were no active plans to write a book, I allowed my heart to set the vision based on just the curiosity, and I let it go.
A few months later, it’s now January 2nd 2022 and my dear friend Sarah Levy had just published her incredible memoir, Drinking Games. I always clicked Sarah’s instagram stories first, watching how she talked about her drinking story which so closely mirrored my own, and was fascinated with the enthusiastic responses she was getting.
When her book finally arrived, I tore through it and cried for hours. It was the first time I saw my story on a page, the story of a very lost and alone 20-something struggling with drinking and alcohol culture in New York City’s tech scene.
At the time Sarah and I were both drinking, there were no mocktails on menus, no vocally sober celebrities. Being sober-curious was neither chic nor a wellness trend yet. Seeing the words and sentences that described in vivid detail her pain and questioning and searching transform into hope shifted something in me. I realized how much I needed this book when I was 24. My tears were ones of gratitude for this book and sadness for the young Brooke who felt so alone and scared all those years ago.
Later that same night, I attended Sarah’s book launch event in Los Angeles. I ugly cried when I gave her a hug and thanked her and shared about what this book meant to me. My husband also attended and in his hilarious-yet-sincere way underscored to Sarah how much her words had moved me (“She’s been crying…alot”) as I snorted and laughed and heaved in the corner, the tears from an old place, waiting years to release.
Watching a friend go through the entire writing>publishing>marketing> launching process made me wonder…if I could do it too?
Maybe my story could fill 250 pages and speak to a younger Brooke? My story of how a relentless and manic addiction to external validation created an internal void within that I filled with everything from attention, to sales awards, to drugs and alcohol. I have seen the power drain from thousands of ambitious, dynamic, interesting women in the pursuit of an untenable success ideal set by a patriarchal culture that only wants to keep us down.
This is the success wound in action; the pain that comes from mistaking success for self-worth. A universal yet unconscious belief system that says our worthiness of love and belonging is contingent upon what we produce, achieve, or do in a capitalist society, rather than the inherent goodness of who we are. It is this wound that secretly sabotages our chances of the fulfilling life we all desire.
So maybe it was time to start writing? But how do I start and where do I start? Do I just open a Google doc and type things? Do I make an outline? What happens when I run out of things to say? How do I go from a “shitty first draft” into a finished product?
I prayed and asked for the next right action to be revealed. I needed help and some direction, but didn’t know where it would come from. I wasn’t avoiding writing, but rather I had faith that with the right support I could work smarter (take a step in the right direction like starting with an outline) rather than harder (spinning my wheels and getting frustrated).
The difference between avoidance and waiting for the next right action is faith.
Avoidance is believing the voice of fear (It’ll never happen. Why bother? It’s too scary. I’ll do it tomorrow).
Waiting for the next right action is having the faith that it can be easy and more will be revealed.
And my faith paid off…
A few weeks later, Lindsay MacMillan’s email address popped back up in my inbox with the subject “Writing Workshop” advertising a 8 week writing workshop for new authors starting in March. I was a full-body-YES for this. The timing was perfect. My curiosity and desire had resurfaced.
When the Universe presents you with the right-next-action towards a goal, you take it, even if you don’t know what the outcome will be.
I didn’t know if I would end up writing a book proposal or how far down the track I would get with my progress, but I trusted the wisdom of my curiosity and the timing of the Universe and signed up.
Lindsay and I set the goal that by the end of the 8 week program I would have a draft of my book proposal and a sample chapter done. She gave me a week-to-week To Do list that kept me accountable to this goal. That seemed VERY ambitious, but I had cultivated the skill of imperfectly delivering on deadlines and knew if I just did the work, the rest would follow.
During this process, I learned a lot about the path to publishing a nonfiction book. Here’s a quick crash course:
In nonfiction, you can get an agent and a book deal based on the proposal alone. Unlike fiction, the nonfiction author doesn’t have to write the entire book. Very generally speaking, non-fiction books sell based on the author’s expertise and the strength of the message and content. Fiction sells on the strength of the plot, story, and prose.
The first step in bringing a nonfiction book into the world is to write the proposal.
Then, you send that proposal to literary agents in the form of a query letter.
This agent then represents you and your book to publishers, who then hopefully make a deal to bring your book to life.
It’s critical to have an agent in the publishing process because they hold the relationships with the publishers and navigate the publishing space on your behalf, brokering the deal, and securing your book advance (money!!!).
One thing I did not know is that a book advance is an advance payment towards future earnings and royalties on the book. It is NOT a nice check handed to authors with the supportive message of “Go forth and use this money to write your book!!!”.
When I read Eat Pray Love, I totally thought Liz Gilbert was given a check that amounted to an all-expenses paid research trip to travel and eat pasta and fall in love. No it is not! I did not know this!! So say your advance is $100,000. The author only gets royalty checks when the book sells more than the total amount of $100,000 in royalties. Who knew(?)
In the midst of learning about the publishing industry and writing the proposal, I took a break to have a dirty scroll through Instagram stories.
I happened upon a slide from a creative that I follow named Amber Rae. She is a writer of multiple books, an inspiring creative, and earlier in her career started a publishing imprint with Seth Goden. This woman knows books!! Her Insta slide said…
“Calling all aspiring writers! Do you have an exciting idea for a book? I’m giving away free 30 minute ideation sessions to writers with big ideas!”
Again, my curiosity popped its head up and I trusted it. Another next-right-action! I completed Amber’s form and got a response a few hours later….
Hi Brooke! I came here to message you and just saw your note above. I was reading your answers in the form a few minutes ago and they made me “oooh” and “ahh” to the point that my husband said “what?!” from the other room. 😂 YES to healing the success wound. Not only do I know that journey well, but I can very much see what’s possible for this book and message. It has major potential and gives me all the tingles to think about. I’d love to do a 30 minute clarity call with you next week to connect with you on this project.
WOW! Her excitement for healing the success wound and belief in its potential flooded me and increased my faith. It was another sign that I was on the right path.
Her words didn’t feel like external validation, but confirmation of what I already knew – that this message needs to be out in the world.
I just loved Amber’s vibe. Another woman who was bought left-brain strategic and right-brain creative. Hiring her felt like the Universe was delivering another right-next-action, just like Lindsay’s workshop. It felt like swinging from branch to branch, trusting the next branch would appear.
We started working on the proposal together, refining the marketing plan, editing the sample chapters, and clarifying the core themes.
Amber had mentioned in passing a few times how much she loves her agent Sarah Passick at Park & Fine. “She’s highly respected, determined, organized, and an insane negotiator”. Amber also said offhandedly “I think my agent is your agent”. I tried not to get too excited about this, because there was a high chance Sarah would pass on the idea, but I did take these words as a vote of confidence that there was an agent out there who would resonate with healing the success wound and care about it as much as I did.
Within just four weeks of working on the proposal, we were ready to start querying agents! I saw securing an agent as the biggest step and the hardest part of the process to securing a book deal. With a good agent, it was very likely some sort of deal would happen because agents only make money when a deal is in place.
One of my family’s favorite stories is that when I was 8 years old I wrote a letter to Santa asking for an Agent. Yes, that’s right. I queried Santa requesting representation for my “acting talents” because I wanted to be Lizzy Maguire or Hallie from the Parent Trap and I found out that an agent can “make this happen”.
Santa wrote back with his regrets, saying that while his workshop is indeed a magical place, it cannot manufacture PEOPLE, so would a Build A Bear work instead? No it would NOT work, but this set-back only made me more determined to find a way to make it to Hollywood, BABY!!! (My first AIM screenname was Hollywoodbound131 by the way… always manifesting).
As you can see, getting an agent was a lifelong dream. But for a first time author like me, without a huge following, I knew getting the right agent who believed in me, the message and my potential might be like finding a needle in a haystack. Without any prior knowledge of publishing, I only had Amber’s belief in me and my own faith to rely on.
I tracked down the contact for a few agents who represented authors with ideas like mine. I “queried” them (sent them a query letter with my proposal) and refreshed my email a few times a day. A typical response time for agents is 4-6 weeks which struck me as a long time, but with the volume of queries and the length of proposals being 30 to 80 pages, it makes sense.
At the same time, Amber sent an email to Sarah asking if she would be interested in learning more about the success wound. I love how Amber described the “big idea” to Sarah:
“Career Coach and former Googler calls on ambitious women to heal their “success wound,” that pain that comes from mistaking visible accomplishments for self-worth. Equal parts professional development and spiritual growth, this book boldly rejects hustle culture’s definition of success and points women inward to find true fulfillment and worthiness. Think “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington meets “The Way of Integrity” by Martha Beck.”
To my delight, Sarah said something along the lines of “Ooooh yes!” and we scheduled a call with her and her associate Mia!
Now Sarah and Mia are a big deal (and Sarah & Mia, if you’re reading this, HI!! You’re a big deal!) and they land big deals for her clients. Her client list is as impressive as it is intimidating for a first time author: Jamie Lynn Spears, Laila Ali, Dave Asprey, Logic, Geneen Roth, JoJo Siwa, Estate of Elizabeth Taylor, Nico Tortorella, JJ Virgin, Robyn Youkilis, Farnoosh Torabi, Garcelle Beauvais just to name A FEW!!!!
This was all being scheduled while I was heading to Italy for a friend’s wedding. Amber shared Sarah’s instagram profile, and when I clicked it, I saw we had a mutual friend. This friend was going to be at the very same wedding I was heading to.
This mutual friend is a standup comic (who is definitely not reading this) and has a big heart but is also very…particular. When I asked him how he knew Sarah, he just curtly responded “Good friend”, which I translated to mean “She’s a great friend and I like her”. Another nod from the Universe that I was on the right path!
A few weeks later and it was time to hop on a call with Sarah and Mia! I was excited to finally connect with them after hearing such rave reviews from Amber and our mutual friend.
It turns out, this mutual friend had also texted Sarah a “glowing review” which was that he could “bear being in the same room as me” which we joked was like getting a Michelin star from this person.
On the call, we vibed right away. I loved Sarah and Mia’s dynamic and complementary style. I was given advice to listen to how they spoke about the book and how they resonated with the message because after all, they would be the people speaking on behalf of this book and its message to publishers. I listened and loved what I heard. They both had personal stories of resonance around mistaking success for self-worth and its nuanced consequences.
A week after this conversation, we had a signed agreement!
So my big announcement is… I have a literary agent!!!!! Santa finally delivered 24 years later!
We’re going to publishers in September!
This is happening!!!!
While I don’t have a book deal yet, I have faith that it will happen in the most aligned and spectacular way possible.
When a message like healing the success wound is meant to come through, the Universe will always conspire to make it happen. The serendipitous timing and the offering of the perfect support from each of these people during this process was something I never could have manufactured.
Letting it be easy means you set the goal and trusting the right people, places, and things will support you.
When I shared the news with my husband he was honestly… surprised. He was blown away that an agency like Park and Fine would want to represent me as a first-time author.
Part of me agreed with him and panicked a little. Will I be able to deliver? Can I earn my spot in the line of author names above? They’re betting on me and I can’t disappoint.
But then the faithful part, the part that let this whole process be easy by dutifully tending the pure intention behind this message knew better. I know I will be an excellent steward of this message, writing the best possible book that I can for you, for me, and for us. It’s going to be a loooong and windy path, but I’m going to try to let it be easy, which is to say, I will let it flow, pay attention to the support that’s all around me, leverage the right people, and trust all is well.
Because that’s what it means to create from a space of conscious success, from a healed success wound; it means to create from wholeness rather than wounding, and to enjoy the F** out of the process, while being uncompromising about your standards for excellence.
So there you have it folks! If you made it to the end, honestly congratulations and thank you! I’m so glad to have you in this community and have you here to help me write this book! I’ll be leaning on you for inspiration, support, and maybe some research!