Writing from the Deeper Self

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Writing from the Deeper Self

Is It Commerce, or Is It Art?

Writing is a spiritual practice, an act of devotion, and gift to your readers.

By Naomi Rose | Updated November 12, 2018

If you read the popular literature on book writing, you may get the feeling that writing a book is all about producing a product. This orientation, which is rather hugely represented, suggests that ~ at least for non-fiction books ~ authors should know their market before they even start writing, so that they can tune their writing to what readers want and will buy.

Obviously, this is a purely commercial orientation. And while I have nothing against the wish to be successful in the marketplace ~ I encourage that, because this kind of success supports us to keep doing what we're doing, and also brings to the reading public things that could truly be of deep service ~ there is a difference between serving the public and playing to the lowest common denominator.

So I seem to be talking, here about the balance of being true to yourself in your writing, and at the same time communicating something that's of real value to your readers.

I recently read an interesting book called The Art of Business, published by Berrett-Koehler (a San Francisco-based publisher with a socially responsible mission). As a person to whom the arts come more easily than business, I wanted to understand what the connections might be. There were some, happily; but what stands out in my mind at the moment is one of the differences. Business, said the authors, starts with the end user in mind: "What does the customer want? We'll tailor our product to that." So it is entirely results-oriented. How one arrives at the result, and the experience of the process enroute, is incidental (if considered at all) to the ultimate goal of coming up with a popular, saleable product.

In the arts, however, it goes in the other direction. The goal is to allow the art to emerge ~ to be true to it, and to the inner impulse that is behind its creation. Afterwards, when the creation is felt to be complete in the artist's eyes, then the process of bridging that vision to a public reception comes in. So the centering is different. Here, the center lies within the artist. In the product orientation, the center lies in the satisfaction of the customer, for the sake (primarily) of sales.

I bring this up because I think that people who have never written a book before (which comprises most of my clients) already start out with a vulnerability ~ really, a good and necessary vulnerability, to themselves and to something larger than themselves ~ but this vulnerability can also cloud their better judgment. Especially in the absence of the experience of writing a book, and therefore in the absence of the kind of confidence that experience can bring, they can become susceptible to the fear that no one will want to read what they write, and they should "do something" to it to make it more palatable/saleable/publishable, etc. This insecurity is then amplified by the marketplace's idea of creation-for-sales.

As a Book Developer who has been working in this field for about 20 years, with many years' previous experience as a book editor, and a lifetime's experience as the child of two fiction writers, I have to undo these kinds of misconceptions in many of my clients in order to clear a path for them to even hear what is inside them that wants to be written.

For us, the process of coming to listen truly to what is inside ~ not only what wants to be said, but how it speaks to the individual person from within, what is the coloration, the whisper, the atmospheric cast, the panoply of images, the exquisite nature of their perceptions ~ takes precedence over everything in the beginning of our work. Otherwise, what will happen? A person will perhaps craft a book that gets the job done, and even gathers public approbation and sells copies (all good things), but does not speak to the heart of the writer.

So it's essential to make one's own acquaintance deeply, to learn how to hear what's there, to give it passage, to honor it, to be able to recognize when one is off-center, and to return. This is an intrinsically spiritual process, and it's what we long for in our soul of souls. In the process, a beautiful book will get written. And because of the deep engagement in what's real, in the very act of writing, all that presence, energy, intention, and beauty will be part-and-parcel of the writing, woven right in, dyed in the wool. That is what will reach the readers: not so much as a "communication" as a transmission. What is in me, as a writer, is now in you. This wisdom, this nourishment, this beauty, this oneness.

Like any art, practicing it increases one's comfort level, one's adeptness, one's success. Writing a book is a long-enough project that just writing it (and re-writing it) provides the practice. People can be daunted by the idea of writing a book; but if they use the Writing from the Deeper Self approach in the ways that suit them best, they soon find that their lives are being rewritten by the book, as well.

So it's like therapy ~ to the extent that writing a book from the deeper Self shows us to ourselves, and gives us room to rewrite our interpretations of our lives. It's like ministry ~ to the extent that we are serving our deepest nature and, because we are all connected at that deeper level, therefore serving our readers' beings. It's like devotion ~ to the extent that returning to the unfoldment of our story (I include non-fiction writing in the term "story") again and again brings us closer to what is behind the manifestation of any story, any life, any idea, and brings us to a state of awe. And it's a transmission ~ to the extent that what is in you, as you are giving all of yourself to the writing, discovering yourself through the writing, and articulating your deepest nature as you write travels through the printed words straight into the inner experience of the reader.

So if, in writing a book (or even considering writing a book) you tune to the life within you that seeks to be known, rather than first tuning to what will sell in the marketplace, you get to be an artist and a healer. Nor does this interfere with commercial success. An artist wants to be true to the creative process, and the creation. A healerwants to be true to the unity that links us all.

If, in your book-writing, you seek (a) to bring through what wants to grow and be crafted, and also (b) to connect with your readers' deepest heart ~ then you will achieve that best of all worlds: the marriage of art and commercial success, of spirit and matter, of being true to your deepest being and reaching a receptive, even profoundly grateful readership. That translates not only into great sales, but great humanity. Pretty good for a book writer.

©2008 Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.

Next: Writing a New Chapter in the Book of Your Life