RETURNING TO THE START
My very first Blog post was in June 2011. It was called “Dancing Along Autobiographical Lines.” In that post, I introduced my novel “Living From the Inside Out”. I had just finished writing it, and re-editing it for the tenth time. I thought it was finished. A few months ago, I took a few weeks and re-edited it again. It finally felt finished. Now, I am returning to that first post (which I had completely forgotten about) to sort of finalize the message I wrote those years ago.
Everyone has at least one book in them. I think I may have about twenty. I have been writing consistently for 18 years. I began my writing with a novel in 1996. My first writing was done on a typewriter. When I finished that first attempt, the first iteration of “Joseph’s Bones”, I tried to sell it, to get it published. I did it the right way, with a great deal of research and spending a fortune on shipping. I got 96 rejection letters. My favorite was from an editor who sent me a photocopied sheet listing dozens of authors and how many rejections they suffered. If I remember correctly, Jack London topped the list with more than 800 rejections! So, I set about trying the whole process again, in order to get an Agent, thinking that might be more successful. It proved just as difficult. I only received 38 rejections.
Well, I kept writing; not sure why, I guess I’m just stubborn like that. Some people call it “faithful”. I suppose, all I know is that I felt impelled to write, driven to write, at first, and later it changed to being a way to work out my demons, a way to think out on paper what I am doing wrong and right. We Jews are a strange people; delving into our souls and minds to determine what is down inside; looking at ourselves in the mirror in order to change. It even has a name in Judaism, it’s called “Heshbon ha-Nefesh“, meaning “examination of the soul”. (I have written about this in my book “Pictures“). Well, I used my writing to do Heshbon ha-nefesh, to record the examinations I did of my soul; no matter how revealing and no matter how difficult. Writing helped me get my head wrapped around many things.
Nine years ago, my congregation, Derech Olam, which I led for 13 and a half years, began to come apart at the seams, it began to crumble. I called a meeting of all my male friends in the congregation so that they could vent their frustrations on me; tell me all the mistakes I had made; list for me my ruination and the foolishness I modeled on a daily basis. I did this so that I could get my head wrapped around my problems and what I was doing wrong, so that I could fix it – so that I could fix myself. They were not kind. Which would have been all right, except for the fact that they did not have the goal of making things better. One of the most ironic events concerning this is a comment made by one those men. He excoriated me, telling me, “You’re always writing, but you don’t understand anything. You don’t change! You need to stop writing and change!” It was the writing itself that gave me the understanding of many of the things I did not understand; could not understand, because I had never been told or taught them. It took years to change, but it came largely because of those attempts at heshbon ha-nefesh, and the writing I did to wrestle with it.
What was so ironic about that friend’s comments is that it is that very writing – all that heshbon ha-Nefesh-y stuff about my personal problems and lack of understanding – that I later compiled into a novel. And just recently, I signed a contract to publish my first novel with Tate Publishing! It was odd to me that of all the things I have written that would be my first published written work. My first published work is the 86 pencil Illustrations I did for the Tree Of Life Version Messianic Bible due out very soon. But to get writing published, for an artist, is a strange feeling.
The novel Living From The Inside Out will take more than half a year to finally come out in print. And because it is being printed through a Publisher, I will take it down from my site (under the Purple Pages under My Writings). It is very early in the process and I don’t know if the strange message of the book, and the strange slant of the book will find any success at all. It is semi-autobiographical, about a Jewish boy who grows up in El Paso and leaves to become a Conservative rabbi in New York. Much later, he goes on a journey to “find out about Jesus”. He is not a Messianic Jew; he knows nothing of Yeshua, he just wants to find out about Jesus; how he fits into the puzzle of history, why everything seems to swirl around him, and questions such as this. And although the story is very strange; drifting into the supernatural, the absurd and the romantic, the core of the story is the emotional, and personal changes that the main character Michael goes through, and how an American hellenized Jew who lacks common sense or spiritual knowledge becomes a more whole and healed man. It’s pretty heady stuff. And it’s funny too.
Publishing is a very competitive realm. More than 30 books are published each and every day! Tens of thousands are published each year. There are hundreds of very accomplished, amazing writers, who never become authors. I have no illusions that Living From the Inside Out will find much acceptance or attention. I’ll do what I can to promote it, but there are two things about it that makes me happy. One is that it may open the door for me to help to advocate for Yeshua as an organic part of Judaism – not Christ, Yeshua. The second thing is that I have 3 other novels waiting in the wings, and thousands of pages of beautiful spiritual Jewish truths that I hope to someday publish as well. Here is what the cover of the book looks like at this time – early in the process. I pray that it is a blessing to many.