Monday, June 21, 2010

Nuts And Bolts Alchemy

Since the release of "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS", one question has been coming my way more than most.

"So ... what does it take to actually write a book and get it published?"

That's not the easiest question to answer in a simple one or two line sentence.

The simple way would be to respond, "Start writing and don't stop until you're finished". In some respects, that is true, but upon much reflection, this is a question I want to address in a much more honest and complete fashion.

In a nutshell, (pardon the pun), the start to finish journey of "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS", bears a striking resemblance to a fable of wisdom shared by Paulo Coelho in his multi-million best seller, "The Alchemist".

The story of the "The Alchemist" is not unlike your own journey. Whether its writing a book, finding that dream job, discovering true love, or whatever you define as success, "The Alchemist" contends that everyone has a special destiny, but few will resolve to achieve it because of the price it exacts. Are you prepared to pay the freight with back-breakingly hard work and a willingness to leave behind comfortable, familiar surroundings? Discovering your "personal legend" also demands persistence, the ability to change be open to responding to omens that point the way.

Coelho's masterpiece follows a young shepherd into the desert on his quest for a dream. "The Alchemist" has hit the top spot on best seller lists in 74 countries and praised by public figures like Will Smith, Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts. An unlikely hit, "The Alchemist" was not supported by bloated marketing budgets or endorsements from Oprah. It was not written in English, French or Spanish. It did not enjoy a film tie-in or gain media attention, but it is still selling in large volumes and changing the world one reader at a time, relying on old fashioned word of mouth and 21st century social media platforms such as this one.

Perhaps the telling of this story may reveal certain omens for you.

PART ONE: Dreaming in the Abandoned Church

The hero in the story, the young shepherd Santiago, finds an old abandoned church, where he and his flock can spend the night. Waking up in the middle of a dream he sees the stars through a half-destroyed roof and starts to wonder about a journey to the Pyramids and the possibility of finding treasure that waits for him there.

In 1999, the thought of writing a book and launching a professional speaking career would have been a distant dream at best. Realizing my days were numbered after 20 years as a paid employees in the broadcasting business, a friend invited me to see a speaker one night. I'll never forget thinking, "I have no clue what I would speak about, but I could do that job". That's when I got the notion it was time to leave the sheep and get going, but hadn't the foggiest idea of where to go or how to get there.

PART TWO: The Gypsy and the Old Man

Santiago visits a gypsy who helps interpret his dream of traveling to the Egyptian pyramids to find his treasure. Later, he encounters an old man who explains the world's greatest lie: That at a certain point in our lives we lost control of what's happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate.

My "gypsy" appeared in the form of a now-defunct training company that allowed me the opportunity to learn, grow and stretch in a completely different field. The "old man" turned out to be a wizard, whose book about "Secret Formulas" was discovered on a hockey road trip to Cape Breton in the spring of 2000.

PART THREE: Working for the Crystal Merchant

Santiago is forced to put his dream on hold as he begins working for the crystal merchant. This is where he learns his craft with respect to selling, merchandising and what makes people do the things they do.

The first half-dozen years in the corporate training industry prove to be a valuable apprenticeship in terms of what is about to follow. This is where the desire to write a book first enters my mind, but I still lack clear direction in terms of to write about in a way that brings value to readers.

PART FOUR: The Decision to Leave

Santiago decides its time to pay attention to the omens and join a desert caravan heading east towards the pyramids. He has been told that when you want something, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it.

My omen came in the form of a challenge issued by a MondayMorningMemo in January of 2006. The result of that experience was a visit to Wizard Academy in Austin, TX and a once-in-a-lifetime writers conference that offered a first glimpse of clarity on what was possible.

PART FIVE: The Oasis

The Englishman tells Santiago that the goal of alchemists is to purify metal by heating it for many years until all its individual properties are burned away. The substance left over is called the Soul of the World. When Santiago hears this, he asks why they do not simply observe men and omens and learn about the universal language that way. This comment irritates the Englishman, who declares Santiago oversimplifies everything.

Wizard Academy becomes the oasis where the complexities of business, branding and the communication arts are made stunningly simple. A half-dozen trips later, Wizard Academy Press accepts the manuscript of NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS. But, only after a humbled and grateful student accepts a simple, yet profound teaching.

PART SIX: Reaching the Pyramids

Santiago expresses fear and doubt, telling the alchemist he has already found his treasure, referring to Fatima's love. The alchemist says this is a natural reaction for a heart to have, as it becomes afraid of suffering and losing what it has won.

Those are the feelings that accompany the days leading up to the actual book launch as NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS was released to the world - least - on May 1, 2010. Just as you find yourself getting closer to the top of the world, real doubt, anxiety and even guilt sets in as you wonder why this is happening to you and not someone more deserving.

PART SEVEN: The Real Treasure

Santiago returns to the abandoned church and discovers what he has been looking for all along.

The circle is now complete.

You discover the real treasure was in you all along, but you needed to go through a torturous journey through the desert and reach the Pyramids before you could find it.

Paulo Coelho says there are four obstacles that prevent people from following a path to their Personal Legend. The first is that since childhood, you have heard that everything in terms of how you wish to live is impossible. You grow up with this idea long enough and as you age, so does the accumulating layers of prejudices, fears, guilt.

The second obstacle is love. You might know your Personal Legend , but think you might be betraying or harming those around you, if you give everything up to follow your dream. But, only those who truly love you are longing for your happiness, and are ready to support you on this adventure.

The third obstacle is the fear of the defeats you will encounter along the way. If you fights for your dream, you will suffer far more when something doesn’t go well, because you can't employ the fall back excuse: “Oh, well, that wasn’t exactly what I wanted anyway...”

The fourth obstacle is the fear of realizing the dream you have fought for your entire life. The simple possibility of achieving that which we desire causes the soul of the common man to be filled with guilt. You look around, and see many others who have not succeeded, and so you begin to think you don't deserve any of it. Coelho calls this the most dangerous of obstacles saying, “It has a certain aura of sanctity about it: to renounce to joy and the conquest. But if the man is worthy of that which he has fought so hard for, he then becomes an instrument of God, aids the Soul of the World, and understands why he is there”.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what it takes to sit down, write a book and the journey to get it published.

Or follow any Personal Legend you have.

"Lives, like money, are spent. What are you buying with yours?"

P.S.... The crackerjack team at Botsford Productions produced some videos that captured thoughts from readers of NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS as well as highlights from the official launch at Moncton City Hall

1 comment:

East Coast Gal said...

Well done Gair! Your book is on my summer reading list. Here's to the next Atlantic Canadian bestseller!