A few days ago I got this note through the “contact me” section of my website:
I am a teacher at an alternative school for under privileged students and I found the book homeboyz which my students love. I let them read it in class and if they ask me if the can keep it, I always say yes which leaves me contantly buying this book. Most of the kids do not like to read or may have never owned a book. I would love to get as many copies either for free or discounted that I can afford to share with my students. You book is so popular with them. We read it together sometimes, well they really like it, so much that they want it. I just wish I had the ability to give every student a copy plus some. Please feel free to call me and ask me about my students and the type of school I am at. Plus I know they would love to meet the author. Thanks for really being able to reach my students on a personal level. Thanks
It really touched me. Why? Because reaching kids and helping teachers is what I love to do. It’s that simple.
I’ve spoken before about how I really do not have any plans to write another professional book at this juncture because blogging for me scratches that itch. It’s immediate, it’s free to the reader and if I can help some people out then I want to help them out without the idea of commerce getting in the way.
Of course, in the real world, we all have bills and expenses and yachts that need their decks refinished (teak is just so labor-intesive to maintain) so yes, the publishers with whom I work often require compensation for my goodies. And yes, it helps my entire life function when I actually draw a paycheck for the work I do in this world.
So on one hand, I really do want to send a free book. (Actually, I did.) But on the other hand, I am simply not capable of sending out all the free books that people would scoop up if I were to somehow make them available to everyone.
That sucks! But I’d like to and maybe, one day, if I become successful enough, I will be able to just give away my books.
(How cool would that be? I could be an author who writes for free when he could charge money for it instead of being an author who writes for free because no one will pay them for it. A neat plot twist if ever there was one.)
However, notes like the one above do make me feel as if I am living somewhat near the range of my dharma. By dharma, I mean, living somewhat near my world’s purpose, to get all California kooky on ya’ll. (note: I am loosely interpreting this from Eastern Philosophy.)
But teachers as a whole often feel driven to do what we do by a sense of our “purpose”. Me, I feel as if my career is best spent 1) teaching and 2) writing. (Not necessarily in that order but not necessarily not in that order, either.)
So what’s the point? Follow your dharma. There are all sorts of passions and abilities in this world (not that the bubbles test would ever validate any of them in our students beyond preposterously narrow corridors) but if you follow your heart, do earnest, honest work and imbibe your efforts with energy, diligence, guts and smarts, experience tells me you will probably find your way in this world.
It might not happen on the time schedule you imagine… and it might come to you in ways you never would have imagined… but the world is a magical place filled with many magical people.
Notes like the one above, well… stuff like this never gets old.