The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart. Maya Angelou
Recently, a friend passed on an article that had appeared in the New York Times Sunday Book Review section titled, “Like the Video? I Wrote the Book”. In it, author Tim Kreider lamented the loss of writing itself, what he thought had been the most difficult part until, of course, it came to promoting it. Marketing books is not what it used to be. I know. I used to do it in the ‘olden days’, pre-internet, for celebrities and first-time authors alike, when marketing the book was also about marketing the personal presence of the author themselves and conducted so very differently.
Of course times have changed and with it, my career, for some time ago I left marketing and promotions to be a writer myself, a decades-long hunger I finally decided to satisfy. Enter the internet enter the excruciating not-yet-complete paradigm shift in the publishing industry right along with me quietly developing my craft, writing for hire and writing two books, one of which now has been published as an eBook.
Initially, when reading Kreider’s article I was painfully in touch with my frustration of promoting my own book, though that mood didn’t last long. Instead, in very short order, I was transported back to the writing process itself. Working with Bennet Mermel, sitting with him for hours over the course of year, was a life changing event in a number of ways. Writing the manuscript titled “The Man Confused by God” was profound. To this day, I miss the process and even though I speak and sometimes visit Bennet, I still miss him – the ‘him’ that was generously available during his revelation of self.
Though I still write many things, they are different; not ‘less than’, just different. In any case, the thing about writing is that there are unique times when a kind of union occurs, sometimes with self, or a higher self; sometimes with another and in the case of “The Man Confused By God” it was with Bennet. For I have come to believe that even though his story is remarkable, miraculous even, a higher purpose was served. The intimate connection of enjoining with his pain, sorrow, courage and joy as conveyed through the details of a life transcend the life itself. Writing him did that for me.
There were times when sitting on the opposing sofa as he chattered away, no matter whether what he told me was funny or horrific I felt this union, no distance separating us, two becoming one. The story that came from his lips was the story of universal suffering expressed through his specific life yet handed off to me, as if it were a baton in a relay race for overcoming it. Equally astonishing, there were times when nothing was said, where he would be unable to tell things like they happened and still I received his message, wordlessly. It was in his face, specially the eyes; those portals of a soul.
Other times back home, I felt his presence whether writing or pondering our weighty sessions. It was an ineffable quality, a ‘lost in translation’ kind of thing that non-writers can’t really know but can see it’s affects if writers have done their job effectively. It felt like an etheric Bennet had come to help me translate him. What’s more, the sense of oneness was profound when this occurred. Without a doubt, the writing of Bennet is actually a book within a book because another story was being created in the process of my writing his original story. It made me gasp and to this very day, still does.
I was very fortunate indeed to learn from another author, Kathleen Gleeson, who wrote two memoirs for/with Janusz Bardach (see “Man Is Wolf To Man” and “Surviving Freedom”). In one conversation with Kate I struggled to describe my writing process, some of it technical, much of personal. She told me that when she and Janusz were working together she experienced similar things, telling me she felt that the process reaches a depth of intimacy that is unknown in other kinds of friendships or relationships, ultimately indescribable.
Whether Bennet felt any of this, I am not sure though I have always sensed that he did. It would not be the kind of thing he would address, articulate or acknowledge to another. And if he had some awareness of it, I believe he has been well served by it. It is not required that he acknowledge to me.
So marketing a book, selling it, while I wish like crazy we could sell a zillion copies, is a pale, pale thing in comparison. Physicists would tell me these are simply different M fields, with different energy patterns, different rules creating a different coalescence. While I understand that intellectually, I am in agreement with Kreider in his reverence for the writing process itself, its satisfaction in a different realm altogether. Still, I wish to earn a living from the writing craft, the business of it notwithstanding. So, on I trudge, dabbling in the M field of shameless self-promotion in an era and paradigm no longer comfortable for me. It is the writing I live for, that easy and transcendent union.
Rosalie Cushman and Bennet Mermel are authors of his life story “The Man Confused by God” available on Amazon and B&N as a wireless download eBook.