Milestone!

I’ve reached another milestone on my publishing journey!

Four-hundred books! (That felt good to write out.)

Strangely, I have to force myself to celebrate this accomplishment. Part of the problem is that my publishing dreams have been so huge since I was a child, that it is hard for any reality to measure up.

What I’ve been doing is imagining them stacked up in forty piles of ten. Picturing this gives a geometry, a mass to what it means to have this many books out in the public.

This has been followed by, I think, a better visualization: 400 people actually owning and reading my book. That was what the dream was always about, if I strip away fantasies of amazing stardom and best-selling status.

People reading my words. What I have always wanted. What I am finally achieving.

Need a copy? Buy yours here: Tao of Thoreau – just 2.99 Kindle and 4.99 paperback.

I wrote yesterday about the review I received about my book Tao of Thoreau. Here’s a little more from the review:

Voice and Writing Style: The author’s writing here is good, succinct, and sets forward his premise clearly, without fuss. He has produced a simple little volume in good form.  

I like this one because it reflects exactly what I was going for – succinct, clear and readable. I actually take it as a complement that the reviewer uses the word “simple”. A lot of my effort was taking deep and complicated ideas and presenting them in a readable format that is accessible to anyone.  And Thoreau did encourage us to simplify.

The Tao Te Ching was an excellent model. It’s a remarkable book, with transcendent ideas presented simply. Yet, upon reflection, the ideas are incredibly deep, universal and comprehensive. If my book reflects even a small part of this aspect, I was successful.  

Success Hidden in Failure

I entered Tao of Thoreau into a contest for self-published non-fiction. Although it didn’t win, I did receive a review from one of the judges. 

Of course, I was apprehensive, seeing as my book didn’t make the cut. However, the review was very positive, and was yet another boost along this journey.  

Here is a sample:  

Topic Appeal: The author has found a quite unique topic in seeing Thoreau firstly for what he was, a Transcendentalist—therefore, in actuality a Taoist. The BBC says Taoism is deeply rooted in Chinese customs and worldview, whereas Google tells us Transcendentalism comes out of America’s early New England region. The author here shows us that these two philosophies, in reality, share similar views, a useful point of view.  

First, I love that the reviewer is clearly British. This probably means this person has little knowledge of Thoreau, which I actually like because the book has to stand on its own merits and not rely on the reviewer’s knowledge.

My favorite piece of this section is the final five words “a useful point of view.” Though this isn’t exactly high praise, I find it valuable. It is some confirmation that the idea I had to compare these two philosophies is a good one. I mean, I certainly believed it, but it is good to have outside confirmation.

The Path of Small Achievements

I wrote yesterday about enjoying each small success with Tao of Thoreau: each book I sell, the pocket change I earn per edition.  

I am developing a philosophy that goes with this: the path of small achievements.  

About 5 years ago I decided to start going to poetry open mics. It was so much fun! I got to read my work and get applause, sometimes even hooting (my wife always counts the hoots).  

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Reality > Dreams

Ever since I was 12, I saw myself as a writer. Not just any writer, but one destined for fame, fortune and awards.  

Well, those sure were impressive dreams. Sadly, my reality hasn’t quite measured up. 

It turns out I like my reality better than those dreams. When I refresh the statistics on my Amazon dashboard, I get excited every time I sell a book. So, this morning when I saw this: 

It made me happy.  

Some days I don’t sell any. Some days I only sell one. Others, I sell a few. Recently I refreshed and the number jumped from 1 to 13! I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. I was so excited. 

Forty-seven cents is not drop the mic money, obviously. I intentionally left the price point low. My goal is not the fortune of profit, but the profit that I hope my readers take from the wisdom of Tao of Thoreau. The thought that people I don’t know are reading my book is so much better than my fantasies of fame. These are real people, and real readers. Somehow, that seems bigger than my gigantic imaginings. 

Barriers to Beauty

I was walking Anna the dog to explore whether the bridge had been rebuilt in an area we like. When I saw that there was no bridge, I decided to explore along the stream to see if there was a way across, maybe some stones or logs.

There was nothing, but that’s not really what this post is about. I was looking at the stream with annoyance. I wanted to get across, and it was a barrier to my desires.

I stopped myself, realizing that my attitude didn’t really support my philosophy. A stream is a beautiful thing, and many times I’ve stopped by this water, gazed at it, enjoying the sight and sound. So I stopped myself, and Anna, and we looked down at the water, enjoying its burbling flow.

The lesson I’m trying to take away is that sometimes something enjoyable can be burdensome if we have the wrong attitude. I’m trying to make sure updating this website, working on my writing, isn’t an extra that seems like too much. Hopefully the lesson of this stream will help me in pursuing my ambitions.

World Philosophy Day

For this day, I thought it would be nice to post one of my favorite passages from my book. The first part is a quote from Henry David Thoreau. The second is the connection I see to Taoism.

Thoreau  

We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities.  

We loiter in winter while it is already spring. 

Tao 

Earlier, Thoreau warned not to try to turn spring into summer; here he warns not to obsess on the past. Lao Tzu said: 

Why was it that the ancients prized this Tao so much? Because it could be got by seeking for it, and the guilty could use it to escape the stain of guilt. This is the reason why all 
under heaven consider it the most valuable thing. 

Learn from mistakes and missed opportunities and apply this learning going forward.  Practice forgiving yourself, especially if you have accepted the lessons from your mistakes. Forge forward with this learning, determined to make a new day and a new you. 


If you like this, you may like to read more in my book Tao of Thoreau