Love Earth Now: The Power of Doing One Thing Every Day (Mango Publishing: 2018)
1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book? My own paralyzing anguish over the assaults on the well-being of our planet inspired me to start writing. Reading about the disastrous effects of a warming planet left me curled up in a fetal position, fearing the dystopian future my children (and someday grandchildren) might know. I started writing as therapy, a way to process my own emotions. Somewhere along the way, I found humor creeping in, and that relieved so much of the heaviness. Eventually, hope found its voice and landed on the page. That’s when I realized that there might be something in my writing that could be shared.
2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? Love Earth Now is for anyone else who’s wondering what, if anything, any of us can do about the many environmental crises we face. Given the sheer magnitude of mass species extinctions, melting permafrost and ice caps, and honeybee colony collapse, it’s easy to believe that there’s nothing any single person can do to make a difference. And yet, I believe that we are all here on purpose, that we each have a contribution to make. That belief is the duct tape that’s holding me together these days. I think are a lot of people are feeling this way; desperate to hope for a better tomorrow and not sure how to make that happen. This book is for all who are ready to explore and discover their own personal calls to action.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down? Each chapter concludes with a “Love Earth Invitation,” an opportunity for readers to pause and reflect, to explore their own concerns in a mindful way. Sure, it’s great to replace burned-out bulbs with LEDs and walk instead of driving when we can. But there’s only so much any of us can do, given the time and resources we have. We often end up feeling guilty or ineffective for not doing more. At least I do. I also know that carrying the weight of such negative feelings doesn’t help Earth nor does it inspire us to make a greater contribution. When I think about who and what I love, instead of chastising myself, my heart opens and I’m able to gain a clearer perspective. I include these “invitations” to encourage readers to check in with their own hearts and souls to discover what contributions they feel called to make. My hope is that the insights gleaned from these experiences are the everlasting thoughts that stay with each reader.
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Find (or create) a group of supportive writers. I went to a few gatherings of writers, mostly focused on critiquing, and I left each one feeling more uncertain about my work than ever. When I couldn’t find the right group, I created The Natural Muse Meetup, www.meetup.com/TheNaturalMuse. I invite other writers who both want to focus on getting the work done, and also to be inspired by natural settings around Los Angeles. Right now, I’m sitting with another writer at a picnic table in a secluded garden. Something rustles in a nearby bush, reminding me to look up and appreciate the beauty where I am. Nature is the source of so much of my inspiration, and I rely on my commitment to this Meetup to get myself out of the comforts of the coffee shop to commune with the “natural muse.”
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? This book is my first, so I’m still learning about the book publishing industry. What I’m finding is that it’s true you have to be, not only a good writer, but also a good promoter if you want your book to sell. That’s not my favorite part, though I do enjoy connecting with readers who find meaning in what I’ve written. I’m also relieved to learn that, despite everything I’d been told, it’s not impossible for a first-time author to land a book publishing deal. The key is to find a publisher interested in your style and message, which is, of course, not as easy as it sounds. I was lucky to stumble upon the “Writing for Change” conference in San Francisco. A jam-packed, one-day event, it’s specifically designed to connect agents and publishers with writers wanting to inspire change in the world. That’s where I met Brenda Knight of Mango Publishing, and eventually landed the publishing deal.
6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book? Forcing myself to get those first awful words on the page is my greatest writing challenge. Creating a first draft is as painful as a root canal, but without the Novocain. Once I get something written, I’m eager to edit it, if only to abate the stench of that awful thing I’ve produced. Even if it takes twenty-five drafts, each improvement, however small, offers such relief.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? Love Earth Now offers tools and opportunities for readers to explore their own means of processing difficult realities and ways of responding to a changing world. It seems like there’s more bad news about the planet every day, and we must become more adaptive if we are to survive—and thrive. Arming ourselves with a greater array of tools and abilities will better help us all navigate the challenging times in which we live. Love Earth Now encourages each of us along that journey, beginning right where we are.
About Cheryl Leutjen: She draws from her experience as a geologist, attorney, small business owner, spiritual practitioner, wife, and mother. This wealth of experience, along with degrees in Interdisciplinary Ecology, Environmental Geology, and Law, affords her a broad perspective to contemplate the dire environmental challenges of our time. She writes and facilitates creative experiences to inspire us all to discover our own path of living more Earth-mindfully. She blogs the Love Earth Now: Not-Fit- For-Print
Edition at http://cherylleutjen.com. She lives with her husband and children in Los Angeles.