A Book in the Hand: An Author’s Journey

The book is in the world!”

Those were my words in an email to my dear friend in England two weeks ago, when several boxes of The Bones and Breath arrived on the doorstep of my little artist’s studio, my personal stash shipped from the printer. I’m not generally a photo happy kind of guy but I went indoors for my mobile phone and then snapped a couple of pictures of the boxes stacked up in front of the cottage. I angled the shot to include the two-foot wide, remarkable succulent—whom I fondly call ‘Marie’—that grows right outside the door; a plant reminiscent of a giant jade rose, whose great petals are the softest velvet and irresistible to the touch.

Prior to the book’s arrival I had received an advance reading copy (ARC), a ‘print on BB_cover_frontdemand’ version of the non-final proof that is sent to journals, magazines, and key individuals for potential reviews and endorsements ahead of the book’s publication. Thus I had already held the book in my hand (or at least a version of it), that first copy’s arrival a surreal moment in itself—all those years of working with words scrawled on paper, typed and rearranged on a screen, over and over again. Now finally distilled into a tangible, real book. I lifted it to my nose and sniffed the ink and paper.

The arrival of several boxes of the final book at my studio was no less a slightly unreal moment. More so actually, because it signaled that the book was really in the world… several thousand copies of it. (Thankfully not all on my doorstep.)

Finally. What a long journey it has been. And now, with The Bones and Breath, I am in the world in a visible way that I have been reaching toward for some time, with the full realization that this is a large part of why I am here and what I am meant to bring.

In the past two weeks, I have mailed out copies to people on the Acknowledgment list, as well as to friends and colleagues to whom I had promised a copy. It feels like I began this writing journey a lifetime ago, and it gave me no small delight to mail Bones out to people who had been patiently waiting (or perhaps just casually indifferent, but nevertheless…).

Meanwhile, the bulk of the books trucked across country to the PGW distributor’s warehouse to be delivered to retailers. On Monday morning this week, when I clicked on Amazon’s website and saw that the book was “in stock and ready to ship,” I laughed aloud… followed by a brief happy dance around the living room.

“It’s such an exciting moment, and a tender one,” said my friend the poet, Carolyn Brigit Flynn, to me in an email exchange shortly before the book arrived, speaking of birthing one’s work into the world.

Indeed it is.

As I have learned from my weekly writing of the Soul Artist Journal, it’s unlikely that the book will resonate with everyone I’ve sent it to. Yet I do hope that most of them find the writing worthwhile and engaging, and perhaps discover at least a few golden nuggets worth carrying in their pocket on their journey. Hopefully a few of them will share it with others, sending ripples outward in the sea of consciousness.

Two days ago, I received a beautiful email from my dear friend in Taos, telling me he had read the book in three days, and had resonated with every word of it. He thanked me profusely from the bottom of his heart not only for the messages of the book but for its poetic tone, and that it was spiraling him deeper into a conscious embodiment of life. And he then went on to write a glowing review on Amazon… a truly lovely way for The Bones and Breath to make its retail debut.

Reading his lovely note, I found myself teary eyed, realizing that the entire journey of bringing this book to life was worth it to have touched even one soul so deeply. And as I told him in my grateful response, in the months ahead, when the book meets its critics and naysayers (as it inevitably will), I will look back at his message and know that Bones is really a success.

The book is in the world. People are reading it—buying it even. People that I don’t even know. Imagine that. Meanwhile, I am wading fully into the currents of the next book and moving forward, senses cast wide to the beauty that surrounds me, appreciating the moment and all that it brings on gentle breezes and fluttering wings.

I find myself repeatedly thinking of Juan Ramon Jiminez’s profound poem, “Oceans”:

I have a feeling that my boat
Has struck, down there in the depths,
Against a great thing.
And nothing
Happens. Nothing … Silence … Waves …

—Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and we are standing now, quietly in the new life?

How aptly put. Standing now quietly in the new life.

The other day, sitting outside at the rusting bistro table with a pot of tea, bathed in warm sunshine and savoring the faint taste of autumn in the air while editing the Introduction for Book 2, I stared out at the shining waves in the cove. I flipped over one of the pages of typed words and scribbled upon it, What is the art you make of your life? And what did you do for that art today?

Repeatedly I have said in this journal that Soul Artists know they have something unique to bring to the world, and find creative ways to offer it forth. Each day offers unlimited opportunities to engage with the ‘other-than-human’ world, to share something of value—whether with blue jay, child, spouse, or co-worker—and to create a life that nourishes deeply.

For many of us, that deep nourishment is not currently found in the actual ‘work’ or job we perform in the world, but it might be in the environment that we create for ourselves and our beloved(s) at home or elsewhere. It may be found in the simple way we pay attention to beauty whenever we encounter it (and it is everywhere), from a single daisy singing in the sun to the gleam in our lover’s eye. When we generate or savor nourishment in a soulful way, we become expansive as we once were in childhood, and like every living thing in nature, we grow outwards. We engage in a sensory communion, which is always the prime directive of the soul.

The crush and hum of the manmade world so often triggers a guarded restriction in our bodysoul. We are ever rushing somewhere. Gentle reader, I invite you to take a moment to breathe deeply. Soften the rigidity in your muscles and stance. Surely there are many demands on your time, but may you consider the art (or the lack of it) you make of your life, and find some meaningful way to do something for the ‘art of living’ today, something that nourishes you on a deep level, that nudges you towards an expansive opening.

Bring something precious, bold, and tenderly luscious of yourself to the world, and share it with abandon, I say.