Friday, May 17, 2013

Humility and Publishing #TBSU

My friend Amy Putkonen wrote a post this morning on humility from a Taoist perspective. Here's the image from her post. I'll enjoy it while you take a minute to read her wise words...

The last two sentences got me thinking. "Give [humility] a spot at the table and ask it how its day has been. Let it teach you something." 

That wisdom applies to so many aspects of life. If we can take a step back and detach a bit from our emotions, life suddenly becomes much simpler. Not easier, necessarily, but simpler. 

I began to wonder how the concept of humility applies in the publishing world.

Humility implies comparison. 

The word humble carries within it the notion of high and low. In fact, one of Webster's definitions of humble is "ranking low in a hierarchy or scale." The publishing world is certainly full of comparison. Just look at the ever mysterious Amazon rankings.

So does striving for humility mean we should hope for poor rankings? Does it mean we should be content with sitting in the middle somewhere, unnoticed. I think not. To me, humility in publishing means letting the book talk. A brief digression, then I'll tied it together...

The word humble comes from the Latin humus, meaning "of the earth." It goes back in English all the way to around the year 1200. Of the earth to me has a connotation of trusting the elements, the basics. When we live of the earth, we don't worry about numbers, we don't compare. We live gratefully with the abundance we have.

Trust the book.

In place of the phrase of the earth, substitute of the book. To me, humility in publishing means trusting the book. Just as we can nurture the earth, we can certainly nurture the book: Amazon it and Tweet it and Facebook it and Google+ it and Goodreads it. But we can also realize that the words themselves, apart from us entirely, have their own life.

The book itself owns the Amazon ranking, not the writer. When we detach our ego from the darling product of our creation, we take a giant step toward peace and contentment, as writers and as human beings. We become neither humble nor arrogant, but simply happy parents of strong, independent offspring.

Could humility become obsolete?

I wonder if we can reach a place where humility becomes irrelevant. I ask myself, is my Soul humble? The question has no meaning. My Soul just is. Humility is a human construct, something we've accumulated over the millenia along with blame and guilt and anger.

In every one of our modern definitions and connotations, humility implies comparison. Once we recognize that we are everything, that we lack nothing, that the Universe is us and we are the Universe, we are neither humble nor arrogant. We just are. What an excellent goal!!

What do you think of when you hear the word humble? Is humility even a goal? How does humility play into your experience of the publishing world? Please join me in the comments. I look forward to a lively discussion!

[As a fun aside, my personal exercise in humility this morning includes having no control over the spacing of paragraphs! Must learn HTML...]

Check out these related posts:

    Some great blogs, presented here in the grand tradition of The Blog Scratchers' Union! #TBSU


    1. I think you nailed it, Carole. Let the book own the rankings. Beautiful. I don't see ourselves "striving for humility" as much as allowing the space to build others instead of building yourself much of the time. I have read lots of marketing books and one of the key components, when combined with the topic of social media, is to spend much of your marketing efforts building up others and trust that this energy will naturally flow back to you.

      We can help each other and trust the Universe to help us. This is a form of humility.

      I have been reading Rich Brother, Rich Sister lately, by the guy who wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad. He said something in there that really stuck with me. He said that so many people believe in God, but not so many TRUST God. Trust God/Tao to bring it forward. He also said in that book that he began to guide his business decisions based on the success of the project. If the project did well, then he would move forward. He let it guide him. He trusted that if it was the right thing to do, God would make it happen. I am not Christian, so I would substitute Tao but it's the same thing.

      1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Amy.

        I agree that marketing is all about helping others, and isn't it lovely that that's one of the principle tenets of Taoism! I just looked for the quote but didn't find it. Something about empowering those around us and rising naturally as they rise, carried by the wave of success. You no doubt know the exact words!

        I'm so glad we have connected, two travelers on somewhat parallel paths! Go Tao!!

        Warm fuzzy Sunday hug,