I used to believe that cloistered nuns and monks who did nothing but pray all day were living wasted lives, that their meditations were self-indulgent and provided no worth for the rest of us out in the real world, doing the dirty work.
Now I know better. I know that their prayers and silence are essential, an attempt at counterbalancing the noise and bustle and prayerlessness of the secular world. The collective unconscious desperately needs their focused thoughts of love and peace and joy. And as the world speeds up to ridiculous velocity, we need more of them, more than ever.
Similarly, I have often wondered, as no doubt most artists have, if the pursuit of my own artistic dreams is a selfish act, if what I am doing serves any purpose for the greater human good. I want my writing to be of use to the world. It is my work, what I am best at, a way I can serve. But how?
For my writing to be of use, more than for my own purposes of examining truths and personal healing, my writing needs to be read. I am writing to be read. As artists create paintings to be gazed at and stir emotions, as musicians write music to be played and listened to, a writer needs readers. Writing is to be shared, not stored. Art is not a solitary act. It is a conversation. A conversation of the most wonderful kind, about the heights and depths of human experience; a conversation that at its best moves us to tears, not only of grief but also of relief and ultimately joy.
I want my books to do what those books that most touched and influenced me did. I want them to connect with the reader, to give them the feeling I used to be surprised by and then cherished. That wonderful knowledge – I am not alone, others have thought this, felt this, endured this, the thoughts in my head, that troubling inner dialogue, isn’t all that different from the thoughts of others. I am not a freak but only horribly human among humans.
My yearning for a good publisher isn’t a selfish act at all, but one of sharing. It’s not about wanting recognition or to be paid for the work I’ve done, though that’s a part of it. Mostly it’s about wanting to be of use to the world. In order for a writer to serve, she must be read. In order to be read she must first be published.
My wish for all my writing friends this year is for the perfect publishers to come your way. To find readers for your work.
I’m excited about starting my asa mentorship Australian Society of Authors mentorship with the highly regarded and respected editor Judith Lukin-Amundsen. I am honoured to have had my Cambodian story, “Women Are Cloth” selected for the program, especially as I share this joy with my best writing buddy Helena Pastor.