Writing for the Public
Feldenkrais® practitioner Pamela Kihm is the author of three popular books about the Feldenkrais Method®: Stop Sciatica Now: Help Yourself Eliminate Back and Leg Pain, Relax Your Back with a Roller, and Walking: Nature’s Perfect Exercise. Pamela recently talked with Ira Feinstein about her experiences writing and publishing.
Ira Feinstein: Did you always consider yourself a writer?
Pamela Kihm: My Feldenkrais practice led me to write. Shortly after graduating from Dennis Leri’s training in 1991, one of my students was a retired doctor with back pain and balance so compromised he could hardly walk the length of the room. He had thought the solution was to tighten his abs and glutes. When he rediscovered his balance and comfortable walking, he looked at me and said, “They don't teach us this in medical school. You should write a book.” That statement planted the seed, but I often hear, “This makes so much sense. Why didn’t anyone every help me understand this before?”
My first experience writing for the public about the Feldenkrais Method was the process of writing the script for an introductory video about our method, encouraged and tutored by another of my older students. Retired from a career of producing TV ads for major car companies, he felt strongly about the value of a short film to help the public, doctors, insurance companies, etc. feel comfortably informed about a subject with a challenging name. He hired professional videographers and editors, even a professional producer, but I was/had to be involved in every aspect, even a turn-around-one-day Chicago/Detroit car trip to film part of a workshop. (The film crew lost that footage, so it never made it into the twelve-minute film.)
IF: Have you found that writing and teaching the Method inform each other?
PK: I’ve found that writing makes me a better practitioner and being a practitioner makes me a better writer. Writing is like taking one advanced training after another because you don't just write. You write, and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite, fine-tuning to make the outcome more functional.
IF: What’s your trick to making your books so accessible to the public?
PK: When we’re working as practitioners, we don’t lecture with our hands or voices—it’s a conversation. I’m learning to make my books a conversation, even though it's a one-way conversation. I try not to overwhelm the reader, but to help their knowledge build.
IF: What publishing route have you taken?
PK: All my books are self-published. Initially, I explored going a more traditional route, but then I decided that it was going to take too long—after I landed an agent and publisher, it would likely take a couple of years to get out into the world. I felt so strongly that people needed the information sooner, I opted to self-publish.
IF: Where do you sell your books?
PK: The main Feldenkrais-specific stores are the Feldenkrais Store, Feldenkrais Resources, and FGNA’s on-site conference bookstore. I also sell paperback and downloadable pdfs of my books through my website. I just started selling on Amazon. I'm getting more entrepreneurial now. Before, I was mainly involved in the writing process, but it doesn't do any good if the learning doesn't get into people's hands!
IF: What advice could you share for a novice interested in writing a book about the Feldenkrais Method?
PK: Don’t let the fear of what you’re not (i.e., a writer, a Trainer, etc.) keep you from brainstorming ideas. As you move through your writing process, observe yourself and be aware, but don’t judge--just like you would observe yourself during a Feldenkrais scan.
Pamela Kihm, GCFP works in Evanston, IL. Find out more at www.painfreechoices.com