Thursday, April 26, 2012

Designing the new book

Many weeks have passed since my last blog. Editing "To the Bush and Back to Business" has taken a while, in among other chores and events. Nevertheless, progress has been made. The book cover has stayed essentially the same, just a little more refined.

I had to write a piece for the back cover, to say what the book is about. I wasn't sure for a long time what to say about it. This book in one sense follows the flow started by the previous two NanoWrimo books, "The Ten Thousand Things" and "Sustenance".

But it's also very different. For a start, I can't describe this one as a novel. When I applied for the ISBN, I had to nominate a category for it, and I had to confess that it's a memoir/biographical book. After all the protestations I have made about being put into that category. For example - it's not about me, it's about the story. And, memoirs are for people who have finished all they are going to do in life. Have my words come back to bite me?

So, how did I describe the book? I will give you two versions. The first is from the perspective of "what category does the book fit into?" This version says:

The book is an exploration of the reasons why a young man left Sydney and went bush, looking for an alternative community and a “back to the earth” lifestyle. It follows his experiences using his own writings – short stories, poems and notes. Eventually he comes back to Sydney and takes up a life in relation to business, and he examines the evolution of his views about the business world.

What I wrote for the back cover is more disclosing, as indeed the book is. One is always wary of being called brave, but the book could be called brave. 'Brave' is so often code for 'big mistake'. But what is written is written. And in my defence, I was only brave in retrospect. When I was writing I was just writing what presented itself to be written. This book may not be a novel, but it follows a question to everywhere it leads. The back cover says:

A young man who should have found a corporate ladder somewhere and climbed up it, turns his back instead and goes off into the bush. Years later he comes back to the city that he left. In this book he rakes over the ground: the search for a viable livelihood living close to the earth, the search for an alternative community. He asks himself, was the questing anything more than loss and failure? What do those young-man dreams look like now? And what does business look like?

This is personal archaeology, not a work of tidy history. The only records he has to call upon are a stack of papers, folders and exercise books in a box. We have to glean the history from what comes out of the box – poems, short stories and notes on scraps of paper that ignite memories. This is archaeology that brings us face to face with ideals and desire, loss and hard circumstance, and passions that endure.

Does this sound like something you'd like to read? Well, it will probably take me about two months to get the production side of things sorted out, so stay tuned. I will let you know when it's available. This is my seventh book in the last five years. They are books of different types - two novels, two poetry books, two books on ethics and now, a personal archaeology that takes a philosophical look at the business world.

I asked myself what it is that binds these different offerings together, and I've decided that it is the idea of "Ethics, leadership and spirituality: new perspectives, stories and insights".

The image? You will find it on the back cover of the book. They are black cockatoos, coming to visit me in my back yard. A moment to be appreciated. Onward.

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