I published my first book in January: Tricksters in the Desert: My Spiritual Journey from Skeptic to Buddhist and Beyond. This book began as a description of my spiritual background for my website. As I started writing, it got clear that I had a lot to say, so I decided to make it into a short book instead. I’m glad I did.
I found this book challenging to write. I was wrestling with some thorny issues related to groups and power; it took time for me to sort out my thoughts and express them clearly and cleanly. I also had a hard time deciding how much detail to go into about spiritual insight. For a while, I was writing a lot about it, and the book was turning into an instruction manual on meditation. I eventually decided to take all the material about meditation out of this book and save it for the future.
One of my goals in writing this book was to describe the ups and downs of my spiritual journey in broad strokes, without going into too much detail about specific situations and relationships. That was partly because I had other projects I wanted to move on to, and it was partly a way of honoring my relationships with colleagues and community members. Drama is inevitable in relationships; I wanted to avoid exploiting that drama for entertainment value. I’m sure I could expand this book by adding more detail, but I do like it as it is: short and sweet.
A month after I finished Tricksters in the Desert, I realized I had a bit more to say about fundamentalism, so I wrote a blog post called “Avoiding Fundamentalism in Spiritual Practice”. If I ever publish a second edition of Tricksters in the Desert, I’ll probably add this material to the book.
While I was writing this book, I was also learning the ins and outs of book design, editing, and publishing. I’m glad I invested my energy there—and I’m looking forward to the publishing process going much faster for my next book.
Tricksters in the Desert originally had a different cover image. A few months after I published the book, the stock photography company that I got the image from changed their terms of service in a way that wasn’t going to work for me, so I found a new image from a different company. I actually like the new image much better. I added a couple of sentences to the end of the second paragraph on page 3 to connect the new cover to the story in the book.
It’s a big relief to have this first book out. It feels like a satisfying capstone to a juicy chapter in my life. You can read the first few chapters of the book for free on Amazon; take a look.