The 13th December 2023 a year to the day since my novel The Buddhist CEO was published. How time flies! In this post I will share a few thoughts on the past year, particularly from the point of view of Buddhist practice.
As a first time author I wasn't sure what to expect after the book was launched. Here are a few things that have stood out for me.
Initially there was some fear and anxiety. Low level but it was there. What would people think? How would the book be received? I felt like I had revealed my inner world for all to see. I suppose that is what all writers do to some degree? I'm happy to report that this feeling soon left me as I got used to speaking to people about the book.
The other unexpected surprise was the number of people who reached out to me personally from around the globe to tell me how much they identified with the main character Hamish. These people were often leaders themselves and very successful at what they do. But like Hamish, despite their success, they felt worn down by stress, worried about their health and the impact senior leadership was having on them. Like Hamish they had struggled dealing with difficult people. This led to many unexpected but joyful chats on zoom with cups of coffee.
Another surprise was the level of interest in the book. I genuinely had no idea what to expect. To my delight I was invited onto podcasts all over the world, especially in the USA. I spoke on LA Radio, I spoke to Pulitzer prize nominated podcast hosts, all the way through to small and local radio stations and newpapers, I even had two appearances on US television! I enjoyed every single one of those interactions and appreciated the time and care many of the podcast hosts took to dicuss my novel.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was when a fan of the book in LA managed to get my book to one of the OSCAR parties associated with the film festival. At this event a number of stars were photographed with my book. I have to admit that put a large smile on my face and still does when I look at those photos. Ajay Mehta famed for his roles in series such as The Sporanos, Sex and the City, The Mentalist and Modern Family took time to be photographed with the book. I appreciate him and all the other stars that took the time to be photographed with the book.
The final highlight had to be that my book won an award at the Firebird Book Awards.
It felt like I had finally been accepted as an author and I am still very proud of this award.
But the novel was always about real Zen practice and its place in the modern world. So how did the release of the book affect my practice. In Zen we are taught not to cling to things and to practice letting go. The Buddha taught that much of human suffering is caused by clinging to ideas, such as success or achievement, or to the need for material goods, in the hope they will make us feel better about ourselves. He taught us to let go of such things and let our life gently unfold and be present to the moment as best we can. This is how we find peace.
I felt this universal human desire for more and the need to succeed quite strongly in the first few months of the books release. How much will it sell? Will anyone want to interview me about the book? How will it be received? I just tried to be aware of these arising feelings. Let them be there. Not deny them and try not to indulge them. Like most things, over time, they passed. I then came to a place of just letting what was going to happen with the book happen.
I am still trying to promote the book as I genuinely feel it would be of great interest and help to anyone trying to follow a spiritual practice in the modern world, especially those in leadership positions. But I am at peace with it now. I see this as further learning on this lifelong Zen Buddhist journey. The monkey mind is ever present and there are always plenty of opportunities in life to gently and compassionately let these thougths go and live in the now.
So what next? I have always thought of my main character Hamish's story being told over two books! I am about three quarters of the way through writing the second book. Internally I feel a wish to finish his story and that is what will happen in the follow up book.
This new year I will be on retreat at the monastery, something I am really looking forward to. I will write about that in the new year. Until then can I say thank you to everyone who reads my blog and who has read the book. I genuinely deeply appreicate that. I hope you have a great Christmas and very peaceful New Year. Deep bows.