I was going through my book looking for good passages that I will use in a philosophy unit in one of my classes. This passage stood out to me:
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.
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 that all under heaven consider it a 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.
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I have to say, this brings me a lot of pride and joy. I’ve said before that it was a tough decision for me to self-publish. Not just because it felt like a defeat to not get accepted by a publisher, but more importantly I realized that I would have to promote the book myself.
I guess I’m doing a pretty good job!
I was thinking today about the rejection letters that I received when I submitted Tao of Thoreau for publication. Two of them were real disappointments because they expressed interest at first: I really thought the dream would come true. Due to those near successes, I held on to the idea of being published, until I finally made the decision to give it a go.
Now, I’m thinking of each of those books as an acceptance letter. And that’s a good feeling!
I think I’ve turned a mental corner about my writing. I feel more like an accomplished author every day, and the wannabee dreamer is being put behind.
A year ago I received my proof copy of Tao of Thoreau. It’s still a very cool moment and memory. I continue to try to appreciate every step on this journey.
I wondered then how many books I would sell. I frankly wondered if I’d sell any after friends and family bought theirs. As I write this, I have sold 495 books. A big number beckons, and 500 seems like a real milestone.
Though this is not the big dream I began in childhood, as I have said here before, it is better. It is reality. Instead of fantasizing about future success, I am planning ways to promote the book and get it to as wide an audience as possible.
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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.
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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.
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.