Choices of a Growing Woman
|For me, Choices of a Growing Woman is living proof that all human beings at all times have in them all the wisdom they need, to experience lives that are bountiful and true.
I wrote Choices in the late seventies. The book is a synthesis of two other books I was writing at the time.
During the time I was writing Choices, I'd barely heard of the words guru or tofu. What I understood about Buddhism would have filled only a thimble. I was writing from my heart and from my experience. I was claiming responsibility for my life, and this was new courage for me. I was saying that my greatest hope for the book I was writing was that it would inspire others to look at their own lives differently. I was talking about service, though in different words then. I wrote about balance, about harmony, about awareness and attention, about honesty. I remember wanting to speak clearly without using empty catchwords.
In my view, Choices spoke of each person's capacity to be his or her own expert—that we can barely be experts regarding ourselves, let alone each other, so how could I presume to know what was best for another person. I could only reveal my own experience and see if others found truth there, for themselves.
My publisher's sales reps thought differently—I knew that instantly when I met with a roomful of them in New York City. There they sat stiff and starched. Their questions felt like barbs.
Creaky silences. Stone faces. Nervous coughs. I knew they wanted me to be an expert so they could certify me for the sake of sales. I could not—would not—try to be that expert but, in that room so many years ago, I couldn't bypass fear enough to say so.
I left the meeting grieving. I knew my book would be drydocked even before it reached the stores.
In two years or so, Choices was out of print. I got the rights back, and a thousand books for a dollar a copy. Soon after that, my husband and I moved to Downeast Maine and opened a concert cafe. We'd already created a cafe in a tiny town, in a tiny railway station we'd renovated, on the Delaware River. On impulse, I'd put a few Choices out on the counter in that cafe and some books had sold. So in Maine I did the same thing. Books sold again. And the next summer more sold, and more and more. I learned that people were buying Choices for mothers and grandmothers and daughters. Men were buying the book, too.
Before long, I had Choices reprinted. By 1993 when I started Heartsong Books, again I reprinted the book. In other places, Choices sold. Except in one or two locations there were reorders. In two sister stores in Bar Harbor, for two summers running, hundreds of copies sold in a few in-season weeks.
These days, I reread the book and see nothing I would change but much I would add. My just-published book, Caring in Remembered Ways, is a fifteen-years-later companion to Choices. Click right here to read excerpts!
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370