Writing from the Deeper Self

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Writing from the Deeper Self

Writing a Book as a Giving Back

People seek to know themselves more deeply in reading books.

By Naomi Rose | Updated November 15, 2018

You probably haven't thought of your writing a book as a giving back, but it can be. And it's a very valuable way to think of writing a book.

What people really are seeking in reading books is a way to know themselves more deeply. Beyond the informational service that nonfiction books provide, beyond our training to read to improve our (minds; careers; skills sets; fill in the blank ___), in reading we seek to recognize ourselves in a way that has not yet happened — whether that recognition is of a difficult life situation we are (hopefully) passing through, or of the numinous nature of our true being.

So writing books that allow readers to know themselves in this intimate way makes this fulfillment possible.

I want to put forth the notion for you to consider that writing a book about your own deep experience — rather than theoretical concepts alone, or lists of expert advice — is a giving back to the community you haven't met yet, and who may actually form because of what you are giving in your book: the opportunity to "commune" by speaking deeply to your readers by speaking deeply to yourself in your writing.

You don't even have to be writing about your life story in order to give back in this way. You only have to give yourself full engagement with the writing, and be willing to peer into the clear pool of your being and see what rises up to meet your interested gaze. This engagement carries a vitality to it, a life force, and it translates into the receptive experience of readers. This process of meeting what is in you, through writing a book, is really what gives back to your readers — far more, in my view, than what you are writing about. I imagine almost anything could be a subject that gives back, if the presence of the writer is in it. The great late actor Charles Laughton, star of the film, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and other movies, used to read the telephone book on television with such feeling that the audience, astonishedly, would weep.

You can give back with a book about some experience you have passed through, offering your wisdom to others who have not had this experience in that way. You can give back with a book about what you started out not knowing, and the journey the book took you on, which is infused in the energy of the book's pages. You can give back with a book about your awareness of some thread of your life, in which not only the subject but the very awareness itself is a giving back to your readers. I'm thinking of Karen Armstrong's autobiographical book about leaving the convent where she was, as a young woman, a nun: Through the Narrow Gate. I read this with such deep immersion and gratitude, although I have never been a nun nor have I been in any way called to that life. It was her intimate honesty and seeking soul that so spoke to me.

We tend to think of giving back as giving back in kind: someone sponsors you with a scholarship, and you grow up to provide scholarships to others. But giving back can be wider than this, can simply open up our humanness to ourselves and to others, until — by the grace of deep writing and the blessing that reading it confers — there is no "other" to be seen. Only that one life beneath the surface, held in safe keeping in our hearts, waiting for the moment when there is an invitation to share it.

That invitation is here. That giver can be you. What lives in you seeks to be known, and what lives in your readers seeks to know it. This full circle, this circle of fulfillment, is a giving back of both a social and a sacred kind. Why not bestow it?

©2010 Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.

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