Resilience and the Art of Book Creation Friday, 5 April 2019

Posted by #theotherdirector on 30th Jun 2019

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (ZAMM), by Robert M. Pirsig, is a book that was first published in 1974. It is a work of fictionalized autobiography, and is the first of Pirsig's texts in which he explores his Metaphysics of Quality.

The title is an apparent play on the title of the 1948 book Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel. In its introduction, Pirsig explains that, despite its title, "it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It's not very factual on motorcycles, either."

Pirsig received a remarkable 126 rejections before an editor finally accepted it for publication--and he did so thinking it would never make a bit of profit. Then it was on best-selling lists for decades. Initially, the book sold at least 5 million copies worldwide.[

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_and_the_Art_of_Motorcycle_Maintenance

The process of creating and releasing a book into the wild is unlike any other experience in the world. The long process of writing the book transitions into more of a sales role once you move into the publishing stages. Editing can be a delight – the idea of making your book into the best product it can be sounds like an obvious statement. The reality of editing can be more like a tour Dante’s levels of hell than the pleasure it should be working on your own product. It is good reason to use an editing person. The editor can be a impartial reviewer and actively work to make your product better, however your responses to the feedback can vary from powerful apocalyptic rage to sobbing grief and shades of everything in between.

You can become so attached to the beauty of your words, the idea of changing them can trigger some extreme writerly reactions! Once you have coached yourself past this stage comes the scary stage of the public gaze. While you may absolutely back yourself, your words, your work; judgement comes in many forms and fast and swift in the digital age. The writer must brace themselves for the potential for their work to be judged poorly, harshly, unfairly and possibly critically judged against the societal expectations of the time.

The trepidation that one might feel over this possibility can actual mar the joy of the outset of your book release. Mental strength is one of the attributes that a writer does need to develop rather quickly at this point. Resilience is something you get right after you need it, I have found. But practice rising above, breathing through it, and reminding yourself that you didn’t write it for THEM! If you are not writing for yourself, you are going to find it hard to maintain focus in the eye of the maelstrom of popular opinion.

You will need to have a safe space, a quiet zone, a very dedicated group of positive supporters if you intend to pay attention to every sliver of feedback that comes your way. Better to have the goals and professional mindset of a writer that knows there is value in the repeated, practiced, polished effort in developing a craft.

Every idea, every shiny new story, all the possibilities that exist in within a writer is worth looking at. Not all stories can be written when they present, not all topics are going to be well-received or win awards. If you are doing it for those reasons, then good luck, but true writer happiness lies in the craft, not only in the productions and release.

Resilience is a natural attribute for an author who struggles to capture the correct colour, the visceral image, the perfect metaphor; it is going to come in handy if you plan to make it as a professional and you will need to exercise it regularly!