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I recently had a proposed novel accepted for publication.

It tells the story of man trapped in a desert who rebuilds the boat that he was shipwrecked on when it mysteriously reappears hundreds of miles from where it sank.

The publisher is a small but smart little UK house called Unbound. They have an interesting way of working in that they require the author to crowdfund the production cost of their book.

This has the useful side effect of starting to build an audience and in return they agree to share half the royalties of the book, which is substantially more than traditional publishers.

So all well and good yes?

Well, sort of. I am 27 days in to a 90 day raise period and only at 4%. Granted I’ve been holiday for 14 of those days and completely inactive during that time (pool games, country walks and trips to the beach seeming, quite reasonably, to be infinitely preferable to online self promotion), but still, the rule of thumb is that most books that get to 30% in 30 days go on to complete funding and I am a long way off that, so I am now panicking just a bit and facing something I really loathe, having to really stand up infront of the world and say ‘look at me’.

Some people can do this effortlessly, Youtube, Twitter and the like has made legends of many, but I find it really difficult, I’m uncomfortable with self promotion, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Personally I have always preferred my work to speak for me (there is probably a reason I chose to work behind the camera) and that’s fine when it gets shown on primetime TV as some of mine has, but in this instance that obviously isn’t going to happen. So what is the best way forward?

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I found the article below a useful starting point with some really helpful suggestions.

Number 2 in Kate Lee’s list suggests publishing an excerpt and I will do that in my next post, but there is an interesting story behind the genesis of the idea and as number 4 suggests discussing the writing process, I thought I would start with that.

The origin of an idea.

Practically every time I have pitched the story, people have asked me where on earth I came up with such an strange idea. Well the answer is pretty strange too. There is a full synopsis of the book on my book page, but the pitch video (linked below) that I put together to promote the book also puts a little more fat on the concept.

So this is where it came from.

My parents were interested in the work of a spiritual teacher called Krishnamurti.

J. Krishnamurti

When my father died I inherited a lot of his books, including several by Krishnamurti and over the years I have read a few. One section in a book entitled ‘Truth and Actuality’ was particularly heavily underscrored and caught my attention.

The process he describes is, I have found and not very surprisingly, quite difficult; to keep your mind completely still in the midst of a torrent of unpleasant emotion that you instinctively want to neutralise and escape from is profoundly hard, but with practise I found I could do it and the results have always been very interesting. I think he is entirely right, that we react to events through the prism of our own past experience and try to rationalise and compartmentalise them through this prism. The quicker we can do this, the quicker we alleviate our own suffering so the pressure is considerable, but at the cost of knowing the actual truth. When you can keep your mind still and just let the emotional torrent swirl around you, not judging, not trying to explain, excuse, escape, not trying to do anything really except experience it without judgement of any kind, then as the emotion finally subsides (as it always does in the end) what is left is just the innate truth that was at the centre of it.

In this particular instance something small happened, but it pressed my buttons in a very significant way and dredged up truly awful, almost unbearable feelings of betrayal and loss of trust that had their root in my childhood.

I barely spoke for three days, just sitting, letting the storm batter me.

Finally it abated and as it did, I saw an image in my minds eye; something old decayed and rotten emerged into consciousness. I didn’t know what it was at first. It looked like the carcass of a dead whale, all ribs and backbone. But I continued to look at it, still trying not to judge and concluded after a while that it was in fact a wooden ship with its outer planks rotted away. I still couldn’t explain what it was or what I was supposed to make of it, but a few days later a thought entered my head that was like the sun coming out.

‘I must repair the ship and wait for the sea to return.’

I don’t honestly know where that came from, but the rush and glee of understanding was so immense that I was sure I had found the point of it.

I don’t think though that I was being gifted the idea for a book. The book is a by product, a way to work through something that is infinitely more personal. I think the ship is a conscious representation of a part of my being that was sunk many years ago and that the process of those three days has returned it to the surface so that I can reclaim it and make it whole again. Actually I don’t think this, I know it with every fibre of my being and it is a wonderful, joyful thing.

You might wonder whether you can lose parts of yourself like that, but the poet Robert Bly in a beautiful little book entitled ‘A Little Book on the Human Shadow’ describes the process precisely. Jung called it ‘the shadow’, he calls it ‘the long bag’ and it is filled with fragents large and small of our being, thrown into darkness by ourselves as a consequence of events and acts that humiliate, diminish and damage our sense of self worth so much that we reject them. He believed it is our real life’s work to recover ourselves from the long bag and become whole again. I do too.

So that’s where the idea came from. I wholeheartedly recommend that you try the exercise described above when you find yourself thrown into a state of disarray by some or other event; it isn’t easy, but it is truly remarkable and the insights you can gain are profound because they are true.

Real truth is exceedingly rare, it is also the most powerful and valuable resource there is in our lives.

I have provided the link to the funding page for the book once more below in case you are now curious and I would be greatly honoured if you would pledge to find out how it works out and help to make it a reality.

I have also published a longer extract on Medium.

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Thank you,

David