Allow me to preface this post by saying it’s more serious than I usually get. There will be some humor peppered in because that’s just who I am and it helps me feel like the overall tone is more balanced. Plus this is more openly personal and humor makes me feel less exposed. I thought about saying “naked” instead of “exposed” there, but too many dick jokes came to mind, so I opted for the latter although I’m not sure it helped much.
In August of last year, I published a book through an online community for which I had been writing as a contributing blogger. The book was a bit of my personal journey away from religion, and I published it through that community because of the built-in audience in hopes that my story would resonate with and encourage those who read it. With a reach of about 1.3 million people, it seemed like an efficient move. I mentioned it on social media, but I didn’t pimp it really hard. The feedback I received was very positive and someone was even kind enough to leave a four-star review on Amazon. Those made me feel like a superstar, but more importantly, they let me know that that people were really feeling it and enjoying it. That was the most fulfilling part.
One person told me they had shared their copy with someone, which I was delighted to hear. Even if they hated it and wanted to shove a rake up my ass, at least they were reading it. But rather than read it, the borrower saw the community logo page and immediately closed the book. They were no longer interested in reading it because it appeared to be promoting a cause. That was shocking to me because it was the furthest thing from my mind and it never dawned on me that someone might perceive it that way. I said to myself in an eloquent internal monologue, “well, I don’t want that kind of shit happening”, so I had my book pulled from the community’s publication list. It wasn’t getting any promotion anyway, so it wasn’t like there was a benefit to it being there.
I’m an introspective guy, so I spent some time thinking through that experience to see what else I could learn from it. It was never my intention to advance a cause; my only goal was to share my experiences in hopes of encouraging other people as well as encouraging open, respectful dialogue. My identification with the aforementioned community was actually a hindrance to that. Religion is a heated issue as it is, and there’s a lot of baggage associated with certain labels. Any sort of dialogue is tenuous until mutual respect is established and good rapport is built, and labels tend to make other people think they know everything about you before they’ve even spoken to you. Normally when someone approaches me like that, I answer them with both of my middle fingers and a suggestion that they go get violated by several large animals. In this case, I took a different approach.
I took leave of labels and of strongly identifying with a particular viewpoint. It’s just one opinion on one issue and doesn’t say anything at all about who I am as a person. It makes me have to spend large chunks of time correcting misconceptions before any real conversation can take place, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Since it isn’t meaningful at all for me to wear a label, doing so wasn’t consistent with who I really am or what I really think. I do and say enough dumb shit on my own without adding layers to it.
Earlier this month, I released the book independently through Amazon. You can find it here. The subject is one of interest to me, but I scarcely even mention it on this site because I don’t want to be defined by it in any way. There’s so much more to me than my opinions about one subject, and there’s so much more to being human than our experiences in one area of life. We can discuss our thoughts and views in ways which enable us to enrich and learn from one another. We’re much more alike than we are different, and there’s much more we can laugh about than argue about. That’s my approach, and I really want this site to reflect that sort of positivity and humor.
Okay, now I’m going to go insult a mime and see if I can get them to break silence. Thanks for hanging with me through this one!