Friday, 21 October 2016
The unexpected gifts of writing a book
My first book Last Seen in Lhasa took 9 years to write, involved seven trips to Tibet and untold hours revising the manuscript. Ten years on, it’s hard to believe my award-winning memoir is celebrating its 10th birthday. I still get emails from readers who’ve read — and loved — it and who ask about the other main character in the book: Ani, the Tibetan nun.
When I recently announced the book’s birthday on my author Facebook page I received an outpouring of love and wishes — because Ani, who has never been outside of Tibet, has fans around the world. I was incredibly touched to know her story still touches readers. They still think of her, pray for her and send her love.
The intangible rewards of writing a book are often more sustaining than the tangible. Most of us do it, not to make a buck, but to make a difference. Books have their own journey. You have to trust that they will find their audience and readers.
A book can open doors, it can give you a platform. If you’re already an expert, a book gives you extra credibility. It’s a ‘business cards on steroids’. If it’s your personal story, or a fictional account, a book can help create a community. I’ve met some lifelong friends through my books — among whom is Ani.
This photo is of us and a cropped version appeared on the cover. I’ve never been able to show her smiling face in order to protect her identity from the Chinese authorities. If you’d like your own copy, head to Amazon. It’s a miracle that it’s still in print.