Please introduce yourself and your book.
Deborah Cole is a writer, photographer and speaker based in Austin, Texas. Along with graduate degrees from Texas A&M University and Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, she has over 35 years of success as a business owner, organizational leader and inspirational speaker.
Deborah combines the wisdom of decades of business savvy with a deep, personal belief in the inherent potential of all people at any age. Through personal achievement, teaching business skills, and providing inspiring, practical messages, Deborah enjoys sharing lessons of possibility, potential, and performance. Her current book, Letting Go, describes the road from corporate leader to writer and photographer.
Whether growing her business to the top 25 list in the US in her industry, serving on boards or using her photography, writing and speaking to inspire and educate, Deborah is on a mission. She currently spends her time seeking out opportunities to photograph and describe the best of humanity in her own backyard and abroad. Her rescue dog and cat happily share their urban townhouse with her in Austin.
In Letting Go: How Less Becomes More, Deborah Cole shares her writing and photography as well as the story behind the journey. Finally embracing her new role as an artist, she provides a message of inspiration and hope. Her journey vividly illustrates that embracing your true desire involves letting go of what defines us before we can claim the joy, passion and purpose that awaits us all.
What is the real-life story behind the book?
Moving from a role as founder and President of a multimillion-dollar company to that of a creative was not easy. Changing identities and labels at a mature stage of life isn’t for the faint of heart. But conviction and persistence toward moving to fulfill a personal “why” led from a place of LESS to a place of MORE.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
The human condition, the challenge of the human existence and the ultimate knowledge that we are diverse but similar inspires me to learn more so that I can share and teach more than not only are we all OK, but also born to live our best lives if we allow it.
How do you deal with creative block?
It doesn’t happen often. Meditation is a great way to prime the pump as is a “slow-it-down” time spent away from home. I also practice “Miksang” which is the art of noticing and contemplative photography.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Other than not beginning, a big mistake is to not develop a writing practice that is consistent. Habits in writing and photography are important. Write every day, shoot every day.
Do you have tips on titles and covers?
Get input from others and then trust your gut.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Nonfiction writing puts the writer in a very vulnerable space. Learning to listen/read it and then move on is critical. Trusting that “I do have something to say” is TRUTH. Photography adds another level to rejection. Not only can the text be disliked, but there are so many critiques around art which might be added to a book. I have found I can be rejected on two levels! I listen and take it in, use what is beneficial and toss the rest.
How has your creation process improved over time?
By following my own advice, I write and photograph every single day (well, most days!) and find that by keeping the pump primed and the creative joints well oiled, I improve. Improve how? By not making elemental mistakes.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your work?
I learned so much about the publishing/printing industry. It has its own language and its own rhythm. I also learned that no one cares about my book as much as I do and not to be offended when the process slows down. It’s all truly in a divine order.
Do you tend toward personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Initially I was nudged toward finding an audience and target reader/viewer. Then I realized that I am doing this to fulfill my own creative urges and needs and although I don’t want to offend, shock or turn off anyone, ultimately, I must be happy with the product. Personal satisfaction is the best. I didn’t write a book to become commercially famous. I did it to satisfy my creative calling and provide a message of hope.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I believe that authenticity which includes emotion and attachment is key in creating. What moves the author? What excites the writing process? Getting to a point where there is ecstatic writing (just flows like words in a personal journal) or where the photographer is lost in the moment of the capture is the goal….at least for me.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Not so much a trick, but I have found that early, early morning is when my mind gets in the zone for writing. I stick to this period of the day. I have also found that headphones on with Zen music creates a better space for me. I can also write quite freely while on an airplane with my iPad…. again, with earbuds in. Finding a good environment where the creative juices flow is key. Keep trying different spaces until it clicks. In photography, I know that I must not be in a rush. I arrive in a location before I want to start shooting and just sit quietly and observe, Miksang style.
What are your plans for future books?
I am currently working on one and writing blogs and giving talks around the general subject. In this way I discover what really lights my fire. Questions that come from audiences also help me to know how other people are thinking around a non-fiction subject. I also look at patterns to see what types of photos I shoot. As a street photographer, I am drawn to people in our culture as well as others just doing what they do best living their lives.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself?
My life makes me laugh most every day. I love the sense of the unexpected and am open to things not going as planned. I love meeting new and interesting people but then in an of themselves, these things aren’t quirky. Sometimes the events in my travels provide interest (being ejected from a German train for not having the proper ticket, being invited in to a guitarist’s home in Cuba for an impromptu concert, visiting with an Santeria healer and being offered “medicine”, participating in a fire walk in rural Alabama, etc., etc. It’s important to be open to what might show up in life.