The quandary

You know how it is when you discover a band with a fresh, new sound – you love their catchy pop hooks, and you can’t wait for their second CD to come out. And then the CD finally arrives, and it’s filled with Chinese orphans reciting classical 12th Century poetry, all set to a backdrop of modern, atonal compositions for viola and flute.

And you think: What the hell?

It’s nice that you guys are following your muse…but couldn’t you do it while sounding the same as you did before?

•            •            •

If I treated writing as a career, I’d be sorely tempted to apply everything I know about product development and marketing. I’d look at what makes my first book connect with readers, and I’d give them more of that.

I’m well aware the first two thirds of Long Time No See appeals to a wide audience. That’s the part of the book that reads something like an older, wiser Eat/Pray/Love. And I could’ve stayed in that vein, and gotten mainstream success.

But in that final third of Long Time No See, instead of meeting a hunky stranger in a tropical paradise, my story dives into the single-minded search for non-dual truth of all existence.

Not really bestseller material. Yet it was by no means an accident; the story went exactly where it was guided to go.

And so Long Time No See is embraced by a much smaller (and much different) audience than it might have been. And that’s as it should be.

But now, as I prepare to release my second book – and yes, it’s chock full of Chinese orphans and atonal compositions – I’m pretty sure most of the small audience that loved all parts of Long Time No See will be disappointed by the dearth of catchy pop hooks.

Yes, it’s still funny. There’s still a healthy dose of pop-cultural snark. And I personally think it’s my best work to date. But The Enlightenment Project shines a steady, unblinking light on some areas usually left shrouded in shadows, and that’s not going to be a very comfortable sensation for many readers.

I think I might lose almost everybody who’s been with me so far.

And I do apologize for that. But here’s the thing. My writing is a chronicle of my spiritual life – and my spiritual life is a fluid, ongoing progression; it only flows in one direction. There’s no going back.

I write because I feel guided to share the things I’m experiencing right now. And if I didn’t feel that inner spiritual prompt to share these things, I’d keep them to myself. I wouldn’t be writing at all.

By the time a book comes out, I’ve already moved on. I’ve already grown and deepened my understanding beyond what’s shared in the book. This was true of Long Time No See, and it’s definitely true of The Enlightenment Project.

Who the hell knows what the book after The Enlightenment Project will be like. Just a bunch of blank pages, maybe. One atonal poem from the Chinese orphan within.

And in my mind’s eye, I semi-peacefully watch as my readership grows ever narrower, dwindling finally to one, and then none…

Or so it seems to me. But it’s in the hands of Spirit now, so I guess we’ll all find out together whether I’m wrong about that.

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6 Replies to “The quandary”

  1. Well, it might have one buyer and perhaps it’s more likely that I’ll buy this second one, than the first one (:

    Ever since my friend Nina (I think she’s written to you here before) introduced me to your writing, I’ve been coming to your blog and reading up on your articles.

    The hook for me was “The ACIM Crash Course for Dummies” (:
    It spoke to me, (on a dreary day when my sluggishness was beyond my capability to handle)

    I kept thinking I would buy LTNS, and first it was my credit card balance – because I live overseas, and it’s much easier for me to buy the book from a bookstore with cash, and then it was something else, and something else… (:

    To cut a long story short, I’ve still not bought LTNS – but I still read your writings and visit your site often.

    I tend to follow my own muse – I don’t know if it’s the ego voice or the HS voice (:– and for whatever reason, I still haven’t purchased LTNS.

    But reading your post above, I’m strongly inclined to want to buy the Enlightenment Project !!

    All the best, always,

  2. Well thank you for the “reality” check, Anil! It’s a great reminder that I can’t possibly know the mind or heart (or taste in reading material) of ‘another.’ And I guess trying to figure it out in advance is not my job anyway, is it. 🙂

  3. HAHAHAHAHA oh Please include viola too on your next release, I am one (a player, that is), and as you know, we don’t have a lot of repertoire! And we can’t help but b atonal.

    Just ordered a new stack of ACIM-related books from Amazon (including LTNS), now you’ve got me curious. Am interested in seeing how you’re narrowing your audience further! Can’t wait.

    Do appreciate hearing about experiences with the spiritual from women close to my age . . . while enjoying EPL, my ego knickers got in a twist when the second book on marriage came out. I mean, she’s way younger than me, what on earth could she possibly have to say! 🙂 Before long, there won’t be anyone left who I’ll listen to!

    Awareness of the incredible ephemerality of what we call “life” just keeps accumulating, accumulating. Even if we get everything to “work” for a short while.

  4. Dear Carrie –
    Your response to my comment has been lingering with me for a long time. Part worry that you might have misunderstood my intent in writing that note (which was meant purely from the point of encouragement for your endeavours) !

    But you ended your response with Love, so I stilled my worrying mind (: — today your Twitter update that LTNS will be available WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD !! had me smiling (:

    I can finally buy your book. Many thanks. And love always,

    1. awww…no worries, dearheart. i did not misunderstand it, i actually took great comfort from it, as a wonderful reminder not to get caught up in believing my own ego mind’s version of “reality” as if it’s everybody else’s version too.

      but having said that…I’m sorry to say that “wherever books are sold” refers only to US distribution at the moment. I have full UK distribution, but have never had american distribution beyond amazon. which is ironic because i’m american and my book is published here. Not sure where overseas you live? most european countries can order from the UK outlets (I believe?) but in order to reach countries on the other side of the world i’ll have to opt for australian printing & distribution. i’d like to do that at some point but probably not yet. (the enlightenment project faces the same situation. i’ll release it here first, then the Uk, and then australia later.)
      Sounds like what you really need is a kindle… 🙂

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