Our guest today is author Narissa Doumani, author of A Spacious Life
Before I wrote A Spacious Life I studied acting, and for a brief moment (read: a few years) tried to forge a career in the performing arts. I was offered many pieces of advice during that time, but the one I heard over and over was, ‘If you can think of anything else you could do and be happy, do it!’
Six years on and having now completed my first book, I get it. I really, truly get it. There are some special struggles us creative folk have to manage.
One of them, unfortunately, is money. How do you fund your work? A lucky few are paid handsomely for their creative talents, but the overwhelming majority of artists out there (some of whom are mind-blowingly talented) have to find supplementary channels of income.
I was lucky enough to have spent several years working as a model in commercial advertising campaigns, which meant I was sometimes paid extremely well for a day’s work. The work was unreliable, however, and at the end of the financial year I hadn’t earned as much as I could have in a corporate job with regular hours. Nevertheless, it was a blessing, because it gave me time to write.
Once you’ve found a way to fund your creative endeavors, the next challenge is to endure the internal struggle. Creating art can be soul-wrenching stuff, and writing a book is a long, solitary journey.
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There were times I wanted to throw my laptop out the window and admit defeat—more times than I care to admit. I’m so glad I didn’t, but finishing my book was an act of sheer determination. I recently attended a talk by a panel of well-known authors, and was interested to hear they’d all experienced something similar. Yup, this writing biz is tougher than it looks to the casual observer.
Having overcome the artistic struggle (possibly, by this time, having also bled our savings account dry), us creatives are then crazy enough to release our work into a world where everyone, it seems, is an expert. Everyone who’s never written a book, that is! I’ve been lucky enough to receive some extraordinarily kind words from early readers and reviewers of my book, but no piece of art is to everyone’s taste; those who don’t resonate with your style or topic will find ways to let you know, and in no uncertain terms.
Even our creative process is up for judgment. Only the other day I had a woman say to me, ‘It took you five years to write your book? You know, I heard about a course that teaches you to write one in two days. I can find out the details for you, if you like.’
While she meant well, she clearly has never sat down to write a book of her own. If she had, she would realize that there is no ‘one size fits all’ methodology. Writing a book is an intensely personal creative journey; for many journeys worth taking, shortcuts simply won’t do!
Don’t let any of this put you off, though. Artistic folk will understand when I say this: you can try to deny your natural creative streak, but the struggle of suppression will be far more torturous, for you are denying the truth of who you are. If you have the urge to write, then write! Or paint, sculpt, dance, sing or act…express your heart in whichever creative medium calls to you. And if you have a book in you, I wish you every success in bringing it out into the world. It will test you in ways you can’t imagine, but it will be well worth the journey.
Follow the rest of the tour for more about A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Mediator
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‘Meditation and mindfulness are tools for working with the mind, but where they have led me is to a blossoming of the heart…’
What does a spiritual seeker look like? Could you pick one in a lineup? If you said yes, chances are you weren’t imagining this meditating model. Born in Sydney, Australia, Narissa Doumani grew up well loved, well educated, and (reasonably) well dressed, but for years grappled with what she admits is ‘the ultimate first world problem’: how to be truly, deeply happy in any lasting way. In this intimate memoir, she explores the creative process, traverses the heights of romantic love and the despair of self-doubt, and comes face to face with her own fragile mortality. But it’s in a cave in a Thai forest, where she meets the Buddhist yogi who will become her spiritual guide, that she learns to unravel the messy states of mind and heart that had kept her from living a spacious life—and thereby begins to uncover the happiness, meaning, and connection for which she always yearned.
A Spacious Life is a heart-warming, honest, and at times surprisingly humorous look into the quest for meaning beyond materialism—and its relevance as an essential condition for well-being and fulfilment within modern-day life.
About the Author
Narissa Doumani is the student of a reclusive Thai yogi, and a dedicated practitioner of mindfulness, meditation, and the Buddhist path. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne, Narissa spent nearly a decade working as a model and presenter in the world of commercial advertising, using the circumstances of her everyday life to cultivate clarity and peace of mind. Born into a Thai-Lebanese-Australia family, she is a strong advocate for diversity, tolerance, and finding one’s own authentic path. Her debut memoir, A Spacious Life, invites us all to do just that, and to live with meaning beyond the material.