I wanted to give this little book a chance to be published before it became fodder for future academics and scholars. But the question of who would publish it grew tough. Who wants a story about a woman in the early twentieth century who becomes a medium for interesting voices, through automatic writing? A woman who, unlike Sarah Winchester, did not become famous. And unlike Jane Roberts or Sylvia Browne, did not publish her writings for a commercial audience. My book was too much of a family story to be literature, but too lyrical to be a straight-up biography.
While I hunted for publishers and agents, the entire book had to be overhauled anyway – the academic tones needed to be rinsed out, and
new transitions had to be inserted. Pieces I loved all the way to the last draft had to be ruthlessly axed, while other items from an early draft marched back in.
From 2017 through early 2020, I alternately cast it down and took it back up. I hated myself when I wasn’t writing, a common writer trait.
I began to bargain with my Higher Power. ‘Show me what to do,” I demanded. “Make it really obvious!” The first break in the mist was an email from my uncle, saying he’d help me publish the book for the family. I began to realize that this was an offer of real freedom – I would not have to change the book for an agent or a publisher.
Then the pandemic changed my daily routines -- no more commute, no movies, no restaurants, no gatherings. Many people talk about how they are cleaning their closets and gardening during this COVID era. I don’t have a garden and most of my worldly goods are in storage. So I came back to the book. I kept coming back until one day, it felt done.
Then a good friend decided to self-publish using an online behemoth you all know – and she told me how easy and straightforward the process was. She was right! Within two weeks I had a cover design, a formatted interior and an ISBN number.
Thanks to my uncle, I’m able to order about 50 copies of that little book and gift them to family members. I don’t know about you, but sending all these good people a book that I wrote about channeling spirits through automatic writing is a bit like going to a big reunion and taking my clothes off. I may have to go into hiding for a few months until I feel safe again.
I finished the book, and I made it the very best I could. And whatever good people can find in it, by of course bringing their own spacious minds to interact with the page, that is a little bit of good that would not otherwise have existed in the world. That scrap of good is my legacy.
Helen and the Masters: A Portrait of a California Mystic, is available as a paperback on Amazon.