Tuesday, March 27, 2012

“PRESSING" THE ESSENCE INTO BEAUTIFUL BOOKS: Writing a book from the deeper Self, and reading Rose Press Books

When I first became a publisher and needed a name for it, I decided on Rose Press not just because of my last name, and not even just because of loving flowers (later, I would find the wonderful old proverb, “A book is a garden carried in your pocket”), but also because of the “press” part.
A press is part of a distillery, the process that turns raw materials (grapes, fruits, even roses) into an essence: wine, brandy, perfume. A press is also what enables printmaking: the original plate is drawn on (an etching on copper or zinc; a woodcut; a linoleum cut; a lithographic stone), treated chemically to hold the drawing fast, inked, and then run through a press with great force per square inch, resulting in a print on paper that will be pretty much the same from the first print to the last (even the 200th).
This pressing part has fascinated me for most of my adult life. A visual artist in my youth, I spent many happy hours in printmaking classes, incising the etching plates with my drawings, then watching as the developmental process took place through the acid bath, etching grooves at the site of the drawing. Inking the etched plates, then wiping off the plate with a soft cloth so that the only ink that remained was inside the etched grooves, I could not wait to take the plate to the printing press, place it face-up, and lay on top of it a dampened sheet of printing paper, and start the press going. As its rollers applied pressure to the dampened paper, the paper would be forced into contact with the inked etched-grooves; and when the rollers had passed over the paper all the way, I could pull the print off the plate, hold it up, and see my original drawing now appearing on the paper. And not just one time, but as many times as I wanted; hundreds, even.
What I loved about this pressing process, as it pertained to printmaking, was that I could put my entire self into the original drawing ~ hold back nothing, give it everything ~ and then, like little emissaries of itself, it could be duplicated, multiplied indefinitely, and it would still (with a few exceptions, depending on things like the thickness of the ink, each time) look exactly like the original. Unlike a painting, where you could give your all (or not) for one, and only one, “product” ~ which you could keep or sell, but not both ~ with printmaking, you could have your cake and eat it too. You could treat your original as if it were the painting of your heart, giving time and attention to it as if to your greatest masterpiece, and then sell the prints ~ give away the prints ~ keep the prints, all. You could be the creator living with your creation; commercial, selling your creation; and simply generous, giving your creation, perhaps many times over.

So when I needed to choose a name for my then-new publishing house, and Rose Press arose as a possibility, the joy of pressing prints was already in my memory and body. And when it occurred to me to find out how roses, themselves, were used to make rose perfume, my research revealed that pressing played an essential part in the distillation process. The image of women and men gathering the equivalent of 10,000 rose petals while it was still dark outside, easing them into cloth bags, and this fragrant cargo being taken to an alembic distillery (usually copper), where a combination of heat and water or solvent “pressed” the oil out of the petals drop by drop, until out of those 10,000 petals just 1 pound of rose perfume resulted, fascinated me ~ and reminded me of what it was like to write a book from the deeper Self.

So Rose Press it was.
It is one thing to write a book from the intellect, with its ready-made structures (e.g., “Step 1,” “Step 2”) and to some degree self-enclosed world (one idea requiring another by dint of logic). Not to diminish the value of books written from the intellect ~ we, and I, read them often, seeking knowledge, how-to's, and so on. But to write a book from the all of you, from the depth of you, bringing into the process more than you ever expected would want to come along for the journey and show itself to you ~ this is a different process and product altogether. And why it seems to me that it actually is a distilling process ~ apart from the distillation and refinement that organically comes with revision ~ is because when all of you comes into the creative act, bringing forth not only esthetic and artistic aspects of your soul but also:
  • your longings,
  • your knowings,
  • your not-knowings,
  • your embarrassments (but those, available to be transformed by compassion),
  • your wisdom (perhaps showing itself there for the first time in that way),
  • your soaring imagination,
  • your feet-on-the-ground experiencing,
  • your seeming dead-ends,
  • your U-turns,
  • your beginning-agains,
  • your despair,
  • your prayers,
  • your beauty,
  • your glory,
  • your gift,
then all of this eventually sifts itself so that the more turgid, unmoving, weighty, clumpy parts fall to the bottom, and the essence of your beautiful effort rises to the top ~ like cream, like wine, like the best, $500-an-ounce perfume. A marathon of sorts writing a book from the deeper Self is; but in completing it, you have done more than get yourself in shape, or achieve beyond your former horizon; you have distilled, for yourself and anyone else who is open to it, all of this inner movement towards lasting beauty. When a great wine is drunk, the taste of it is there in the moment, then gone quickly, perhaps a memory of having enjoyed it remaining as proof of the experience. But when a great book-writing journey is packaged in a book, when it is read it makes an indelible impression on the mind, heart, even soul of the reader ~ “etching” in some understanding, some image holding promise, some heart-quality that will actually become part of the fabric of your being. Memory of it might fade from the foreground of your awareness, but still it will be there inside you, subtly working to bring you closer to what you value most, whether you are even aware of it or not.
To put this kind of distillation between covers as a book, and to offer it to the world, through Rose Press: this is both a kind of gardening of the soul, and being gardened. “A book is a garden carried in your pocket,” says the old proverb (sometimes attributed as Chinese, other times as Arabic). It really can be true. When a person takes on the holy task of writing a book from the deeper Self ~ as I am privileged to say many of my clients have, and as I have, myself ~ then something flowers, if the writer stays with it and gives everything to it. Something flowers in the writer, something flowers in the writing, and something flowers in the reader. It is all one single impulse to come true, and everyone benefits in the end, as well as along the way.
Copyright © 2012 by Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rose Press Books ~ and actual Roses (more alike than one might think)

To put books and roses in the same sentence, the same breath, is not so far-fetched when you look into it. They both involve flowering.

And what are the elements involved in flowering? There needs to be a seed (in this case, a cane). There needs to be a fertile soil in which the seed or cane is planted. There needs to be a willingness to tend to the seed over time ~ to water it, mulch it, weed it, prune it, and all the while, love it as it finds its way toward the fulfillment of its natural expression.

When the writer of a book seeks to write that book deeply, that desire ~ that longing ~ is the seed.

The fertile ground into which the seed, or rose cane, is planted is a willing heart: willing not only to venture into unknown territories through and during the writing process, but willing also to make friends with whatever arises ~ whether that be the material, or aspects of the self previously not conscious, or the realization that the draft of the book will need to be revised in light of later understandings.

The tending to the growing plant includes caring about it while it is still in its incomplete form ~ thinking about it in a warm, friendly way (rather than succumbing to the perhaps familiar litanies of self-criticism and self-condemnation); coming back to it and writing more, with enough frequency to keep it alive and vital in the writer’s heart; learning from it (like learning from one’s child); dreaming with it; staying with it, no matter what it asks ~ whether to be done, or to be ripped out at the seams and begun again from another point of entry, or whatever; and finally, releasing it into a book, as an act of love as much as accomplishment.

This releasing into a book, and then releasing the book into the world, is the cut-flowers bouquet that graces the tables and hearts of the readers.

And the distilling metaphor that I’m using throughout this blog?  That’s, in part, what happens when you read the book: you get the essence, for yourself, of all that the writer went through in writing the book. The writer got the full journey, and you get the gifts of that journey.

This is true for all Rose Press books to date. My own most recent book, out later this month, MotherWealth: The Feminine Path to Money bears this out. So does Rahima Warren’s recently released book, Dark Innocence (Book One of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy, a fantasy trilogy). So also do the Rose Press non-fiction books, like Healing Civilization, by Claudio Naranjo, MD. And my own Starting Your Book: A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Attending to What’s Inside You. If you go to the Rose Press website, you’ll get the fragrance for yourself. Rose Press Publishing

Friday, November 4, 2011

Distilling the Essence into a Book

“The act of distillation is the process or art
whereby the invisible is made visible”
…Jeanne Rose 2001

Writing a book can be more of a mystery than a chore, more of a spiritual journey than a total act of will. And because the alchemy that goes into writing a book is invisible to everyone but the writer ~ (until, that is, the book is complete and available to be read by those fortunate beings who will get to receive the benefits of that alchemical process) ~ it is difficult to show this process directly.

That's one reason why I love to use the analogy of distilling roses into natural perfumes and essential oils. There are parallels. Though a beginning book-writer might not think so at first, as s/he steps over the threshold of desire and into the at-first daunting unknown. It is that unknown that both calls and daunts the writer, actually. The call is towards what is not yet visible, or even consciously known to the writer. The daunting aspect is "What do I do?"

So the alchemy of book writing proceeds ~ admittedly, with less of a formulaic certainty than distilling rose petals into rose perfume ~ step by step into the unknown of oneself, until that veil has lifted sufficiently to reveal the glory of what has been seeking to be revealed through the writing. The writer, often unbeknownst to her or himself, plays all the parts of the distillation process, save one. The writer is the rose garden (or acres of rose fields) that will be harvested to produce the bewitching scents. The writer is the harvester, rising at dawn to pluck the fragrant blooms in their perfect moment. The writer is the worker, hoisting the sacks of rose petals (soft and fragrant, but bulky) into the truck, driving the truck to the distillery, spreading the petals onto the floor to reach the desired state, placing them into the still or alembic, and monitoring the progress of their transformation. 

I said, "all parts of the distillation process save one." That one is the transformative process itself, something that writers ~ and all of us ~ can set the stage for, but cannot do directly. This is something larger that holds us and distills us, makes of our own composted material (both in us and what we have written) an essence, refined out of the "lower nature" of our being. This transformation, which many of us devoutly seek, takes place in the heart, and changes our outlook, our centering, our contribution to the world and our own inner evolution.

We can certainly go through this distillation process without writing a book, ever. And yet writing a book from the deeper Self (which is what I teach and offer as book-development services) is one way to go through this distillation process.

The benefit? The "perfume" at the end is the book ~ and, who the writer has become in the course of writing the book.

And this is why I call Rose Press, "Books & Other Fragrant Offerings."

To see what treasures are available for you, go to the Rose Press website: http://www.rosepress.com/. We have books on the Creative Process; on Money & the Inner Life; and on Healing. And more than being "about" these subjects, they give the actual scent of healing, so that as a reader you come out fragrant. (And that is a very sweet thing.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why a blog about book (& etc.) publishing is called "Coming Up Roses"

My name is Naomi Rose, and I am a book developer, writer, and publisher. But that's not why this blog is called "Coming Up Roses."

In my own writing experience, and certainly in my work with people who long to write the books waiting in their hearts, the process of bringing out what's there ~ and then refining it, distilling it to its essence ~ is much like the process of making rose perfume. In this process, thousands upon thousands of rose petals are gathered from the live plants at auspicious times, such as just before dawn, and while still shimmering with life are placed into (usually copper) retorts, where (often with the aid of some solvent) a fire is lit underneath the retort, and over rather a long time the essential oils in the rose petals are separated by the heat and the steam from the water. In this way, rose perfume is extracted.
It takes about 10,000 rose petals to make 1 ounce of Rose Absolute. (You can see why it would be very expensive.)

This process, and its aromatic result, is metaphorically and energetically amazingly similar to what happens when a person writes a book from the deep place within. All the initial confusions, awkward drafts, turn-arounds, false starts, and so on at some point drop away, like the rose petals that have given their essence up (literally, upwards into the retort). And what is left is the beautiful, seamless, fragrant, moving, even breathtaking, alive transmission held in wait on the pages ~ held there in suspension, waiting for a reader to open the book's cover and enter into that fragrant world and make it her or his own.

The process of writing a book is such a transformative, even alchemical, journey that it's no wonder people initially want it and fear it. Something in them will change as a result of undertaking this project ~ if, of course, it is a book of the heart. (If not, things happen within the writer, but not so much a transformation of the writer or the reader.)  And yet it's also a beautiful journey! To find what is true in oneself, and to come upon ways of giving voice to that ~ whether one is writing a memoir, a nonfiction book, a fictional account, or whatever form it takes ~ is to unveil the depth and immense beauty of one's own being. It's the search for oneself, line by line, page by page.

This essentially alchemical process distinguishes itself from ordinary book-writing by its contents, qualities, and energy carrying that alchemy for the benefit and blessing of its readers.

And this is why Rose Press books are distillations of their author's hearts, speaking directly to readers' hearts. This is why Rose Press books are fragrant, and why ~ after all the work to write them ~ for both readers and the authors, everything’s coming up roses.

For more about Naomi Rose book development: See "Writing from the Deeper Self," www.essentialwriting.com

For more on Rose Press: Books & Other Fragrant Offerings to Bring You Home to Yourself: See http://essentialwriting.com/RosePressPublishing.htm