Good evening and thank you for coming tonight. This is my first ever book signing and I’m very grateful to Crazy Wisdom, Rachel, and Bill for setting this up for me. They also did a very nice piece in their Community Journal. If you’re not familiar with this publication, it’s a great service to our community, on many levels.
Given our setting I thought I would talk a little about my spiritual unfolding through writing. First a story.
I was at an event with my meditation teacher who was about to leave on a world tour. While waiting in a line to greet her and say my farewell, I had a blessing, kind of a poem, in my hand that I had written. I was mulling over my connection with writing and whether it was something I should pursue. I’d never been educated in it and had little experience but I felt drawn to it. When it was my turn at the head of the line, I handed the blessing to my teacher. She handed it back to me and said, “Please read it.”
I must have gulped audibly. There were probably 200 people in the room. I’d never read anything I’d written in public before. In as clear a voice as I could manage, I began. She immediately stopped me and said, “Come closer.” I stepped forward and read. Afterwards she thanked me, said the poem was beautiful and gave me a gift. I later learned that she posted my blessing wherever she went on tour that year.
That was 16 years ago.
Writing became the arena that I stretched myself, where my growth, both personal and spiritual, began to take place. I no longer had difficulties in my career, finances, relationships – all those places rich with nutrients for growth. Now, writing was going to offer all those challenges.
So I wrote poems and learned about submitting poems to journals and magazines and getting rejected.
I wrote a novel and learned about submitting novels to agents and publishers and getting rejected.
I took writing classes, met regularly with a mentor, then later joined writing groups but I couldn’t call myself a writer. I somehow believed that was for people who had published. But after lots of positive feedback from teachers, and members of my growing writing community, I began to let myself think of myself as a writer, then as a poet. But I had difficulty acknowledging that I was writing a book. This seemed so pretentious to me. Even though I never thought of myself as having self worth issues, there it was.
I continued to work hard on the craft of writing, which I have to say is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to learn. I found my meditation practice was vital to my writing and so my meditation practice became regular. Then one day I was mowing the lawn, thinking about what I was doing with my writing and I had one of those “ah-ha” moments. Musicians, dancers, singers, give themselves concerts or performances. Why couldn’t I give myself a recital? I could invite my friends and family to hear my work and also bring their own to share. That was 3 years ago. The next day I received an acceptance letter for one of poems in a literary journal.
I’d like to say that being published didn’t make a difference but it did. I relaxed about it after that. One person, or committee of editors, had validated my work. Since that time my poems have been published in several other journals.
Okay, so I could say I am a poet. But what about being a book author, a novelist? Not sure how it happened but gradually, the stigma I had attached to that gave way. I stopped feeling self-conscious about it. So, the other day my publisher asked me how it felt to be a published novelist. I actually can’t say, because the labels have lost that mysterious charge they used to have. Last winter, after a deep meditation, I just knew that my book was going to be printed by the end of the summer – one way or another. It was released and in my hands a week before autumn was official.