Explaining my odd little book

I have not written in this blog for nearly a year. On purpose. I am trying to learn to market the ebook way (insanely complicated), and I run into so many blogs that i wonder why write yet another. Still . . . . .  I have decided to reprint my book’s introduction in order to explain what is truly a very different book. 

INTRODUCTION

I have always been a writer in a rather “straight” journalistic mode (books, magazines,  brochures, manuals, articles, reporting, editing). I have a couple of journalism degrees, and for me, writing is craft plus talent. And it’s a job.

How then did a “normal” writer come up with this bizarrely different book? Definitely not a job. More like a mission. How did this happen?

Magic. I would have to say magic.

We’ve been told for centuries “to ask and you shall receive,” and so I followed that advice. I’ve written everything from a documentary to a birthday card, but, I wondered, is there a reason I have this propensity to write? And so I asked. Out loud, twice a day, morning and evening, for three days. It wasn’t a prayer, it wasn’t a demand, it was a simple request: “Tell me what you want and I will do it.” On the third day the process of knowing began. Or rather, the process of surprising myself.

I walked into Maui’s Haleakalā Volcano to clear my mind and let the message come through. Haleakalā is quiet and expansive, a massive place for inspiration. By the time I hiked to the crater floor, a 3,000-foot descent, I had it. But boy, was I surprised by it: a diapered, blue baby who exhibits no gender, no nationality, no normal skin color, no particular culture. And Baby Blue is on a journey across the globe to meet mythological, legendary, cultural, clever and fun characters who all impart wisdom as Baby passes through. You’ll notice I’m avoiding the “him” or “her” pronouns because Baby Blue needs to be an “Everyman” character, someone who can represent all of us questioning, wondering, wandering souls.

ITOO's author mj hoping to tap into Maui's waterfall divas.

Author mj hoping to tap into her muses:  Maui’s waterfall and rainforest divas.

The stories came to me in starts ‘n stops, spurts ‘n dribbles over 20-some years. I don’t even remember exactly when I began. ITOO (It Takes Only One) was in no hurry to be written. When they did visit me, my muses expressed best in nature, particularly redwood forests and Haleakalā Crater. I was often startled by the very sentences I wrote down. I’d sit on a tree stump or a volcanic boulder and suddenly write in Lewis Carroll’s voice for my “Alice” chapter, or the Arthurian character Fisher King would speak in my head in the crazy cadence of American comic Robin Williams, or, drifting in on his raft, Huckleberry Finn had me write in a similar manner to Mark Twain. It was a fun journey. A year or so would go by with no writing done on ITOO, and then suddenly Gilgamesh had to have his say. The Oracle at Delphi was in a manic rage to make her points, and that certainly shocked me, while Archangel Michael, as you can imagine, had patient and kind advice. Persia’s Simorgh, Britain’s Merlin, Quetzalcoatl and the Mayan Ceiba, Hawaii’s Pele and a Japanese mountain . . . just read the Table of Contents to see what an adventurous odyssey this has been. The characters, their stories and their advice, came through me in willful and peculiar ways, and, no doubt, that’s because they seemed to write their own stories.

Uploading ITOO to Amazon

I read this quote just in time. Just as I was folding.

“The final—and sometimes most difficult—act of creative trust is to put your work out there into the world once you have completed it. . . Fierce trust demands that you put forth the work. . .”
Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic

Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, runaway successful author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” a brave work that exposes her frailities ‘n vulnerabilities.

IT’S WEIRD TO FINISH A BOOK

. . . especially one that’s been chasing after you for two decades as mine has. All kinds of emotions you were not expecting do pop up. And joy is not one of them. Neither is pride. The emotions tend to range on the shadowy side. Variations of fear . . . people won’t like it. . . I’ll be considered a (fill in the blank). . .the book will be viewed as silly, sophmoric . . . it will flop . . . no one will know about it (more to come, i’m sure).

Rappelling down waterfalls is easier than it is to finish a book.

Rappelling down Maui’s waterfalls (for my company Rappel Maui) is easier than pushing that “submit” button on Amazon to upload my book to the world wide wow (web).

HOW ‘n WHY

How will one book sell amidst the millions already loaded onto Amazon? Am i whisperimg into a void? Writing just for myself? Why does one book matter anyway? Or one painting? Or one scientific theory? Or whatever it is that you do creatively?

Is there a sigh of relief when the book’s last word is written? Certainly not. The book cover and website designs take another six months. Followed by months and months of techie ebook research. FInally, marketing. Blogging, SEO, Facebook, Twitter . . . these modern marketing methods seem egotisitcally driven — putting your photos and words all over the internet. Yick.

I suppose this sounds like “oh poor mj—she wrote a book and now she has to sell it.”  Yes, that’s true. Poor me. Yrrrgh.

But then you remind yourself: ITOO is good. Very good. And you’re grateful you are the one to birth it. So, like Baby Blue, you take one small step at a time and hope that at journey’s end you’ve met your challenges with no fear.

 

It truly does take only one

MJ in her other role as a hiking guide showing off a friendly Jackson chameleon in a Maui rainforest.

MJ in her other role as a hiking guide showing off a friendly Jackson chameleon in a Maui rainforest.

I did not realize that my two books had the same theme until after I wrote It Takes Only One. I self-published Voices of Wisdom Hawaiian Elders Speak in 1999, knowing that these Hawaiian Elders were the ones who kept their culture alive. But, i didn’t realize that, yes, in fact, they prove my point: their culture is now thriving due to the excellence and diligence of each one of these 24 elders. It took George Na’ope to keep the ancient hula dances alive; it took Pua Van Dorpe to single-handedly resurrect the once-dead craft of kapa cloth making; it took Nainoa Thompson to navigate the first Polynesian canoe in modern times.

This theme, It Takes Only One, is critical for all of us who want to lead lives of excellence and pursue our personal mission. It took me decades to discover this important truth. I hope Baby Blue helps you open to your own possibilities.

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