Risky BusinessPosted: August 13, 2012
I am substitute teaching in a class that is based on my book, Science of Mind Skills. My students are very intelligent, and fairly new to Science of Mind classes. They obviously have done their homework and they ask wonderful questions. Quite suddenly, I am very, very proud that I risked writing this book nearly twenty years ago.
When I started my ministry, I had previous careers as a teacher and a writer. I loved the ministry and I loved teaching church classes. I also believed that the books we presented to newcomers were too abstract and used too much jargon. It seemed to me that we desperately needed a simple book that explained our ideas in plain English.
In those days, I was a newcomer and it took a lot of nerve for me to step out and write a book that presented the ideas in a very different manner from the way I had been taught.
Despite the fact that I was a kind of “cheeky monkey”, I wasn’t a particularly brave person. Also, I very much wanted to be accepted by my colleagues. I wanted everyone to like me and I didn’t want to seem pushy or bossy.
It seemed unheard of, in those days, to step up and say, “Here’s my book. You need it in your church”. Like many writers, I’m not great at marketing my own work. It felt like a risk to write that book and a bigger risk to present it to my colleagues.
Since I was such a beginning New Thought minister, it was truly unusual to step out in that way. I imagined that my former teachers and the organization leaders would see my book as criticism of what they were doing. On the other hand, I wanted to contribute and I believed my ideas were good.
I was tempted to go along to get along. It’s not always easy to take a risk to be different. Plus, this was an old issue for me. It was not the first time I felt trapped between playing it safe and taking a risk to step out and say, “This is my idea of how we should do it”
Ideas about not being pushy are formed early, aren’t they? Many women suffer from this manner of living but men are also not immune to peer pressure.
When I was in high school, there was a boy who was a violin prodigy. They used to make us listen to him play classical music at our school assemblies. We liked Frankie Laine and he played Beethoven. The rowdy kids threw pennies at him and I used to wonder where he got the courage to perform. I could see that he loved his work but it seemed so terrible to be ridiculed, that I suffered for him. Even though he grew up to be first violinist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, memories of his performances still haunt me.
I guess I thought people might throw pennies at me if I stuck my head out because it took an awful lot of nerve for me to begin my book. But once I started writing, it was very, very easy. My vision was clear. I wrote Science of Mind Skills so newcomers could jump right into using the basic beliefs that would enable them to change their thinking and change their lives. The format was a short explanation, followed by practical exercises and affirmations and prayer treatments they could use immediately.
In those days, self-publishing was not common or well accepted but I knew Louise Hay self-published her books so I decided to follow her lead. I ran off the first thousand copies, a hundred at a time, in my local copy center. The book had a yellow construction paper cover and spiral wire binding.
When the book was finished, I sent a copy to each of the members of the Religious Science International Board of Directors and no one sent pennies. But – only two acknowledged it!
I was disappointed by the response, especially when one of the men I most respected said he thought my prayer treatments were too repetitive and simple.
Despite the Board’s lack of enthusiasm, I still believed we needed a jargon-free book that was short on abstractions and I offered the book at the Asilomar Conference that year. The book sold well and several of my colleagues placed orders for their bookstores.
The orders began to come in after that first exposure, usually for five or ten copies. Imagine my delight when Rev. David Owen Ritz of Sarasota, Florida, placed a first order for 250 copies! Believe me, I scrambled, and so did the copy center.
After that first year, I began to have it printed by a real publishing company in batches of two thousand at a time. When they sold, I reordered. For almost twenty years, business has been gratifying.
The book has become something of a classic and I have met many people who tell me how they use it. Once in a while, I hear that someone still has a book with a yellow cover. One woman said she kept her book under her pillow! A couple I met in Florida decided to move to Carlsbad when they retired – they said it was because of that book.
Not as many individuals have used the book all alone, as I originally imagined. Usually, it has been used as a supplemental text for the basic first year classes. Lately, more and more churches have been using the book for an extra or “pick-up class.” It is written so that it is an effective vehicle for drop-in classes.
Since I wrote Science of Mind Skills, the world of publishing has changed dramatically. Today, many, many of my colleagues have written books. The new avenues for self-publishing make it easier. I also like to think that the fact that I took the risk to write Science of Mind Skills is part of the reason our authorship has boomed. My risky business has perhaps started a trend.
Ancient history always looks inevitable. Now, I wonder why I even hesitated. It doesn’t seem like much of a risk, in retrospect. Clearly, I was aware of the need and I had the preparation for the job. But, even though I became a minister to spread this wonderful teaching, I also wanted acceptance. It is an unfortunate truth that people don’t always support the “different” one.
The past is gone and I see it all as good. As I taught my students that day and saw how much they appreciated my book, I was filled with pride. Not pride for the writing, but pride for the risk I took. My risky business has paid off for a lot of people over the years.
What are the risks you’re proud to have taken?
What risks have you taken that paid off emotionally and/or financially?
What are your talents that you can share with others?