Today I'm excited to introduce Anne Witkavitch, editor of the inspirational book, Press Pause Moments.
Anne is a professional writer and editor, communications expert and speaker. Her own life transition and pursuit of her dreams were the inspiration for Press Pause Moments: Essays About Life Transitions by Women Writers.
Anne’s work has appeared in Miranda Literary Magazine, The Journal of Employee Communications Management, Time, Inc.'s Work in Progress blog and Vermont Short Bites. She is also a contributing editor and blogger for TravelingMom.com and serves as Managing Editor of the Thin Threads inspirational book series from Kiwi Publishing.
Anne teaches managerial, professional and expository writing at Western Connecticut State University, and serves as a writing mentor for the M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing Program as well as leads workshops and participates as a guest panelist at the residencies.
"Life is about change. As human beings we're always changing, growing, transforming and transitioning our lives. Whether it is our circumstances that lead us to take a new path or a desire to pursue a goal or dream, as women we learn that we have the power to choose who we want to be, what we want to do, and what kind of life we want to lead. These words introduce Press Pause Moments: Essays about Life Transitions by Women Writers, a collection of beautifully crafted tales by 36 women writers reflecting upon change, adversity and celebration."
Can you share some of the topics covered in the book?
When I decided to do an anthology about women’s life transitions it was important to me that I looked at the collection in a diverse way, both in regards to the topics covered and the ages at which the writers experienced their transitions. The natural thinking, of course, when people hear about the book is that this is an anthology about midlife; but truly it is a book that resonates with readers from 18 to 100 years old, who read it as part of a women’s studies group, a book club, or on the beach during a vacation.
For example, my personal story in the anthology is about going back to graduate school in my 40s to follow my dream to write and publish. I recount how my first experience attending the first week-long on-campus residency brought feelings of fear and self-doubt, emotions I had not felt in a very long time. Another story is about a woman whose ability to survive widowhood is tested when a possum unexpectedly “invades” her home.
Another writer dances her way to her 60th birthday. There are so many subjects and brilliant narratives about marriage, divorce, infertility, self-preservation, sexuality, obtaining dual citizenship, and changing careers. Transitions realized by catching fish, planting a garden, riding a motorcycle, learning to dance, deep sea fishing and caring for aging parents. Resilience discovered when one bravely tackles abuse, a child’s health crisis, anxiety and depression, moving a family, shopping with a mother, battling cancer, or studying SIDs.
How did you select the essays to include?
Before we talk about the selection process, the first critical step was writing guidelines that clearly described the vision of the book and the submission criteria. By doing so, it made it easier to sort incoming submissions. For example, if I received poetry or short stories, those submissions were automatically moved to the “no” folder as the guidelines clearly stated nonfiction work.
I also recruited the help of my college friend and fellow writer, Ann Zuccardy. Ann and I shared the same dream to publish our writing and also shared similar philosophies about the writing craft. I trusted her judgment and trusted her to share her comments and critiques.
I received just over 100 submissions, so having another reviewer helped tremendously. However, I faced an unexpected challenge. At the same time as the replies started to come in my oldest sister’s cancer took a turn for the worse. Having Ann’s help kept the process moving, even as I juggled the readings in between out-of-state commutes. In fact, my sister passed away during this process and it’s her image that graces the cover of Press Pause Moments.
I ultimately selected essays based on several criteria. The first was quality. The essay had to be well-written with attention to detail, professional with no typos, and in line with submission guidelines. The second was storytelling. I wanted these writers to share personal experiences in a way that other women could relate to them. Third was diversity. Again, I wanted to make sure the topics represented a wide range of transitions women go through at various stages of their lives. But what has truly been amazing to me is how, once the final stories were selected, I came to know each of the women and her story intimately.
In an interview, I explained how personal each story became to me and how I still carry a mental image from each “like one carries a photo in a wallet.” This truly evolved beyond a collection of stories to a collaborative effort among women writers. Each time I meet one of the writers for the first time, it’s like meeting a rock star!
What message would you like to convey to readers?
Transitions are a natural part of our lives whether they are planned or unexpected, easy or difficult, projected onto us or something we choose. I’ve done a lot of work in change management but I sometimes hesitate to use the word “change” because it implies that something must be left behind that is out of our control in order to move forward; there is a perceived loss, which conjures a sense of fear.
“Transition,” on the other hand, is more about evolving from one point to the next. There is a process and a way to measure the progression. We choose what to take with us, what to let go of, and how to move forward, adapt and grow.
You founded Press Pause Now as a way to help women figure out their vision and goals and attain them. What resources do you offer?
Many women know what they want to do next in their lives but don’t take the time to pause and figure out how to make it happen. They let everything else – family, friends, or work - get in the way. They need to invest time in themselves and have someone experienced facilitate their thinking and help translate their ideas into words and a plan of action. They need to move away from the emotional idea of making a change to the practical “this is how to get it done” approach.
The signature Press Pause Now retreat is a one-day interactive session where women come together to rethink, refocus and reenergize for what’s next in in their lives and begin or fine tune the plan to make it happen. We help each other articulate the vision and then figure out clearly and succinctly the strategic goals, metrics, networks, and priorities that are needed in order to achieve success on our own terms.
Press Pause™ coaching, workshops and retreats are now being expanded under the umbrella of my business, Anne W Associates, a consulting firm that focuses on communications, change and transitions management. My goal is to bring the Press Pause approach to corporations, women’s organizations, small businesses, and wellness institutions in transition and facilitate the dialogue, help them rethink the vision, goals and plan, and provide expertise to help them translate their intentions in a meaningful way with simplicity, clarity and purpose.
Can you tell us more about your workshops and retreats? What could we expect to discover or learn during our time with you?
There are four key areas I focus on in the Press Pause Now retreats and other workshops, coaching and training:
Reflect: What has worked and why? What would we have liked to have done but haven’t? Why not? What have you accomplished? How can those accomplishments and learnings help position you for achieving your goals?
Project: What do you want your life/career/organization to be in five years? What will it look like? What will it feel like? What opportunities exist now that you’d like to go after that can start taking you there?
Plan: In order to get to where we want to be, what are the short and long term priorities to focus on for the next three years? What roadblocks and obstacles stand in the way? What do we need to do more of/less of in the coming year to keep us heading in the right direction?
Promote: How do we communicate your vision and goals? How can you get buy-in from others? Who are the supporters? Who are the resisters?
Promotion and marketing are a big part of selling books. Which two methods have you found work best in promoting Press Pause Moments?
Social media and speaking have been important vehicles for getting out the word about Press Pause Moments. The idea for the book was sparked by the stories women shared at the Press Pause Now retreats. The book itself generates robust dialogue around the subject of transitions and lends itself well to online channels and speaking forums.
I’ve also been blessed to have some incredibly savvy marketing women who are contributing writers and who continuously promote Press Pause Moments along with their own work. Also, I am now working on marketing the book to women’s studies departments at colleges and universities, an audience I feel would strongly benefit from the readings.
Press Pause Moments: Essays about Life Transitions by Women Writers was released in September of 2010 and is available through Amazon and her web site PressPauseMoments.com.
You may reach Anne by email or visit her blog at TheEclecticWriter.typepad.com.