Sunday, October 20, 2013

How I Wrote This Book

One day in 1978 I was driving home through San Rafael. As I passed the Chevron station and turned from Irwin onto Third Street, an image filled my mind in vivid detail.  I knew that I was seeing the ending of a vast, epic science fiction novel.  Then as I continued driving, I heard the words of the first chapter or prologue in my head:  "When he was nine years old, Garuvel NepZing discovered that he could disappear."  It went on that way until I had written the prologue of the book.  By the time I got home, I was ready to go to my typewriter (some of you may have no memory of typewriters) and begin the novel. I had a pretty good idea what it was about. At that time I had recently sold a short story to Playboy Magazine, and the story had won their Best Story of The Year award.  Playboy invited me to a huge party in New York City,  paid my expenses, treated me with great generosity.  The party was a gathering of prominent artists, writers, publishers, film makers, etc.  I was enjoying my fifteen minutes of fame. My pockets were filled with the cards of famous and influential people. In any case, there was interest in everything I was writing. I had signed a contract to be represented by Scott Meredith Agency.  This book, "The Gods Of The Gift" was sufficiently well along to be shown to publishers.  For a year it made the rounds, and I had the help of an editor from the agency, who taught me a lot about writing. The book in 1978 was nothing like the book that is here now.  I was lucky it didn't sell.  Had it been published, I might have allowed it to go ahead and flop, because my skills weren't mature.  Here it is thirty years later, and my skills HAVE matured.   This novel has been through so many revisions, drafts, edits that it has become like a very finely crafted musical instrument.  It's been  TUNED. I am also aware of the fact that there is a "teaching" in this book.
I feel odd when I speak of "teaching";  it sounds grandiose.  After all, who am I?  Another guru, another healer, another mind filled with spiritual helium convinced of the urgency of my task, my destiny?  At one time there was some of that, but after spending some close-up time with a real live famous guru, I saw how harassed and miserable his life had become. I was completely put off the guru gig.
 I'm a writer. I'm an informed mystic, a person who has studied a lot of esoteric doctrine without taking myself or the doctrine too seriously.  I have spent my life studying the subject of consciousness. My own consciousness has been the only available model, so I've worked through my experiences with the purpose of turning them into authentic understanding. Then I harness this hard-won understanding into my works of art.
  Some of my experiences have been unspeakably dreadful.  I lived a "dark night of the soul" that lasted many years.  I think that every student  has some kind of experience of darkness and suffering. That's the initiation into the school of mystery, "The Way", "The Path" whatever we might call it, if we call it anything. Most of these names have grown tiresome and pretentious.  The language of "spirituality" has become debased.  I'm totally bored with it.  Still, my commitment to this way of life is lasting and genuine.
  In "The Gods Of The Gift" you will find strong elements of Tibetan Buddhism, Jungian psychology and Zen.  There are also  ideas from the likes of obscure teachers like H.W. Percival, Georges Gurdjieff and Rudolph Steiner. The book is fun, but it also requires a little bit of effort from the reader.  Not too much. Now and then, between sword fights and being chased by a villain who is both lethal and hilarious, you might find yourself puzzling over a passage.  Hopefully that puzzling will be enjoyable and the exquiste nature of the language should compensate for your discomfort.
    You will know if this book is for you.  If it's not for you, boredom will set in and you'll put it down before you've read very much.  That's the way it goes.
   I have observed that a powerful idea has been reaching popular consciousness.  This is the idea that we create our lives by our thinking.  What we see outside of ourselves is a product of what goes on inside of ourselves.  Thirty years ago books such as "The Secret" hadn't been written.  The latter is a ridiculous oversimplification of an extremely complex mechanism.  It's more about marketing than it is about providing any technology of dream fulfilment.  It is an immensely successful franchise that is built upon this premise that we create our realities by our thinking. As absurd as these marketers of Thought Power may be, this premise is the central theme of "The Gods Of The Gift".  It's right there in the first two pages. In my text, the idea has been elaborated and turned into an adventure story, a picaresque, a quest.  It's taken thirty years to write.  I am madly in love with this book.  I hope you will be.

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