Sinking into joy…

Hey friends,

Lately I’ve been sinking into the gentle pleasure and joy of fiction.

This is the result of a very exciting conversation I recently had with my book agent. We were chatting about the next steps for my book on body neutrality, when she mentioned that now would be a good time to start thinking about the next book I want to write.

We bounced around some ideas very briefly: what did I have to cut from this book? What do I feel needs to be fleshed out more fully? What peripheral topics around body liberation still need to be addressed?

I hadn’t even realized I could pitch another book– at least, not before my first book hits shelves– so this was a rather electrifying thought!

For what it’s worth, if you have any suggestions or ideas for my second book, please hit reply and let me know! I’m simmering on this question, and would love to know what you think.

I could imagine exploring what it means to really be confident, for example– especially outside of how we look, and outside of conforming to social hierarchies and ideals. Or I could write about how to move toward overall self-acceptance, by applying a “neutral lens” to every aspect of yourself. And of course I could always do one whole-ass book dedicated to each individual body image avatar.

All of this is fun to think about. I’m passionate about body liberation, and about the healing of the world through the healing of individuals, and I genuinely cannot wait until my next book finds me.

But the thing that really lit me up in this conversation with my agent was the idea that—if I want to—I can start thinking about writing fiction.

Books (specifically, fiction books) were my first true love in life. When it came to stories, I couldn’t get enough.

Reading stories felt like magic— it took me on adventures, and gave me some of the most profound relationships and experiences of my young life. It nurtured the richness of my internal mind, expanded my imagination, and brought me intense joy.

When I was about twenty one years old, I made a bucket list for my life, and it was pretty short:

  • Live in Thailand for a while (check)

  • Do Ayahuasca in Peru (check)

  • Publish a non-fiction book to help heal and empower women (check, although it’s now to heal and empower everyone)

  • Walk over hot coals (the opportunity hasn’t yet arison), and…

  • Publish a novel

That last one I wasn’t sure would ever happen, to be honest.

I knew nothing about the publishing industry; I didn’t have any contacts, expertise, or experience. I had never even tried to write fiction before! I just knew reading novels was my favorite thing in the world, and I imagined how incredible it would feel to have written one.

For several years after that, I tried writing short stories. They weren’t very good. I struggled to come up with compelling conflict, because I never wanted my precious characters to suffer. (Lollll.) But then I got absorbed in my coaching work, and in order to give myself to it completely, I let fiction go.

It didn’t feel like a compromise or anything, because I always knew I would try it again someday. It just seemed inevitable: if I live long enough, fiction will come and find me.

And that time is getting closer; I can feel it. I don’t know when, or what I’ll write about. All I know is that my agent told me that if I wrote a young adult novel, she would help me get it published.

And that, ever since, there has been a buoyancy in my mind around it… a glimmer of joy; a beam of light peeking through; a feeling of sparkliness about being alive.

I asked if there were any parameters to bear in mind as I start playing in the fiction-writing space, to make a young adult novel more marketable. She said it would be very cool if my novel tied in, somehow, to the themes of my non-fiction work: if it empowered people, or focused on healing, confidence, and liberation. (Which like… hell yes.)

The last few years have been very dark. Between the pandemic, depression, therapy, politics, and moving through Big Grief in my personal life, glimmers of joy and excitement haven’t always been accessible. (Maybe you relate?)

Either way, I’m sinking into this new glimmer as deep as I can. I’ve been looking up writing classes, and letting myself sit at the watery edges of my imagination, waiting to see who shows up there. Turning over dystopian futures, and sci-fi conspiracies, and the magic of “what if…?”

I’ve been leaning into the buoyancy and playfulness of it all. I’ve been daydreaming about the people I’ll meet, and the adventures I’ll go on. I’ve been prancing around in the little puddles of mental joy.

And I hope you can do the same! What brings you glimmers of hope and joy lately? (And how often do you sink into them?) What feels like a sunbeam or a buoy for you lately? Where are you finding playfulness amidst the dark?

Sending you a big glimmery hug,

<3

Jessi Kneeland

PS I’m officially accepting new private coaching clients! Apply here if you want to work together!

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