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.