Feedback from a neutral

Yvonne Me and My Books
TOP 1000 REVIEWER   A memoir of a spiritual journey.
An intriguing title, Finding What Was Never Lost is the authors journey through his life so far. From his childhood, through his teens and into the world beyond as an adult.

Martin quite candidly shares experiences, thoughts and also feelings from various points in his life. He has walked, hitched, flown, sailed and travelled to and through quite a few countries. He has taken a variety of jobs, some were the transient jobs of harvesters that follow the seasons, crofting with friends or holding a “normal” job to provide money for further travels. His goal through his journey was to find a spiritual guide or guru, someone who could teach and help him find his own place within himself and the world.

This is quite a different read for me, I do read a few memoirs and tend to like the ones that are about an individual rather than a celebrity. Martin’s book fits into this style, it is a personal account. It is recounted in a very calm way, his spiritual nature is something that is felt as I read this book. If a book could have a quiet and calm voice, then this is one that has that. It was an interesting read in the respect that it is very different to how I live my life. In my opinion it is good to take a step in someone else’s shoes for a moment and see how they view the world.

The layout of the book is set in out in very quick chapters, this makes it perfect for dipping in and out of. There are quite a lot of footnotes, many for things that I feel didn’t need an explanation, and a very handy glossary and index at the back of the book. I am going to make the presumption that some of Martin’s readers will know English as a second language and this is maybe the reason for the amount of footnotes.

This is a book that would appeal to those who like a more spiritual, self discovery style of memoir. One mans journey and experience of life told in a calm and quiet way.

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ISBNs – the final frontier

Yes, without an ISBN and an EAN barcode you get nowhere – so here I am in India, trying to re-publish the book with a new ISBN and barcode, only this time registered with global ISBN services so that “Finding . . . ” can be taken on by an international distributor and we can really begin to see it in bookshops etc.

What is wrong with my old ISBN? It ‘belongs’ to Kindle and they have not registered it with Nielsen’s directory, nor will they. It’s a sham code, looks the real deal but when you get to enquire further, the book does not show up. It does not exist. Like poor Monty Python’s parrot, it is a dead ISBN, it is an ex-ISBN, it is no more, it is non-existent.

So, back to the beginning again, I talk with new publishers about self-publishing “Finding . . . ” and again try to negotiate through the mire of packages with gemstone names. Charges that mean I will have to sell some thousands before the basic costs are recovered. Features and add-ons that I cannot believe I need, no matter how hard they push the rhetoric.

Beware fellow authors. Self-publishing means SELF in capitals, take everything on board and learn it all before you need to know it!!

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The “What is it?” of ‘Finding what was never Lost’.  

I have put it a number of ways, but the main content, the main reason anyone might want to read this book, is to read of one man’s transformation – from zero to now. It has nothing to do with gender or colour, no rags to riches . . . what I lay out, is the backdrop, the preamble that led to a discovery, and then its loss, that set off journeys over decades to re-discover what I already knew existed but could barely feel.

In religious sub-sects they might call it the Soul, a word I am happy to use occasionally. Othertimes, I talk of my essential ‘I’, the core self that lies at the heart of one’s being. The one that sees and knows, feels and responds – the ‘me’ that does not think or judge, but just IS. So, cutting to the chase, I woke up to this real self through the trauma of an intense eye infection that led to its removal. Less one eye, I was still whole; hence the conundrum of “who or what am I?” began.

But it was much more than this. The hospital experience, the pain, the humble yet exhilarated sense of being I was thrown into and the consequences of losing it, the very moment I left the hospital. I put a lot into trying to explain or describe the wondrous state I experienced, how shockingly ‘higher’ it was than any of the many hallucinogenic drug highs I had already tried. It blew away my antagonism with ‘reality’ and simplified my view on what the pinnacle of life might just be.

Thus, at the age of 29, having already traversed a few continents, I set off to find the definitive teacher or teaching that might lead me back to realise that very state that I had experienced in the hospital. I was ready for it to be more than this, but nothing short of it would do. More tales and trails, I found a guide in North India, and lived there for a few years til he passed away. Lived awhile in Denmark, France and back in the UK trying to do too many things at one time, but not giving the dream up at all. Moved back to India for a further 20 years where my new guide took up the reins and brought me to a state where the sun shone every day, (even when it rained!).

And then, I put it all down in a kind of manual form towards the end of the book, to show how perhaps many others might take up the ‘Inner journey’; and, save themselves the disjointed randomness of a life like mine, or the mundane tedium of a life without a cause. Oh yes, I know how arrogant that might sound, I have had this discussion with so many, even from my own family – the ‘values’ they hold dear, the ‘honour’ in the lifestyle they pursue and so on. Boiling it down, we are so many of us painting over the cracks and doing little more than saving our skins, trying to have a good time and denying ourselves the inevitable until it is too close to avoid.

So, I am told, it’s a fun read, an unexpected journey through the latter half of the twentieth century and on into this. It’s a push for folk to ask themselves the questions they know lie sheltered away, and I hope to find some answers too. In the final analysis, a book can only make us better if it changes the way we act and see the opportunities that surround us. Only the reading can ever answer that one!

 

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The “Why?” I wrote ‘Finding what was never Lost’.

Whenever we get onto talking about me as a published author, it goes quickly to “What have you written, what’s it about and why did you do it?” Not surprising really, but something that this post may help clearing up.

Simply to call it a memoir or autobiography is doing it a disservice, particularly as I have not led a particular stellar life. To go in the other direction and say it is a life course, motivational, self development manual would be also gale. I will step back and deal with what it is later, let’s talk first about why I wrote it and why anyone should give the time to read it.

Have you lost someone? A friend, a brother, a mother, someone really close . . . just gone from your life? For me, losing two dear ones closely together, it provoked some serious self-questioning; perhaps, it did for you too. Well, when we check-out of this mulit-dimensional space, we take everything with us. All that they are and what they mean to us. Gone. This was my trigger – not thinking ahead to what I would be taking away with me, but what (with their going) was lost to humanity. What is lost when every precious soul passes, the more so the closer they are to you; and with heroic lives, the more that loss is felt. I will get to the guru/chela story in time, but growing up in the hippy era, my first serious soul buddy was Philippa.

I write about her of course, but hurry through in the need to move on in the larger story; without giving her as much space in the book as she deserves. She was already a mother, world traveller, artist and had ‘found herself’ before we met  . . .  when I was a green, starry-eyed nineteen year old. We are not talking infatuation here, we were neither of us drawn to the seventies naughtiness in our relationship, no it was more profound.

My life, as depicted in the book, was one of coming and going, experimenting, dabbling with ways and means. She had found it, what worked for her. Her door was literally never locked. If noone was ‘in’ then visitors would make a tea, relax and wait. It may seem random, but this was synonymous with how she lived her life. Open to all, no-one a threat, no-one not part of the family. This resonated with what I was reading and going through at the time. The meaning of life, identity and all that stuff. Reading the Bhagavad Gita when I was 17 I came across the concept of karma yoga – three key rules to advancement along the spiritual path that seemed to lay a million miles off track from my upbringing, the Christian ethic and family background. They captivated me, and she was their epitome.

  1. One should work without seeking the fruits of that work.
  2. One should work without considering oneself to be the doer.
  3. One would work in full consciousness of the Divine.

I was really into the first two, as was Philippa. She cooked for whoever was present, without it being a drama of any type, without it being a ‘burden’ upon her. It was just one of her rhythms, and it was always a mix of great ingredients put together with love. If someone else cooked, it was also OK, she would simply do something else. She was into the FLOW of life, and living it in tune to her feelings. And, she was doing it, the way I aspired, living from the heart, not the mind.

I remember one time, packing up a boot-load of her pottery and going downtown to my sister, Christine’s office. She was working for the Times/Sunday Times and in their lunch hour she had proposed we set up a display/stall for her colleagues. We were totally out of our daily scene, fussing around with boxes stuffed with fragile crockery wrapped in newspaper.  at first.

Phil was a dream to watch, (I noticed with side glances) the way she interacted with all these white-collared execs, and the highly perfumed and stylishly coifed ladyfolk. She was totally herself, direct, appreciative and caring, humourous . . . we sold the lot, and left. Years later, a sideswipe of a comment, about a particular glazed teapot, and she recalled to whom she sold it (and what she was wearing!), that day at Christine’s office. She had not dismissed these people as irrelevant, she connected with everyone, and lived in the present. Without memorizing each transaction, being there meant that she could slip back and ‘recall’ them.

I spent a couple of days with her a month or two before her final showdown. We pottered in the garden, drank elderflower juice and talked as though there was no tommorrow – even if we both knew one day exactly that would come to pass. For eight years, she lived on intra-aortal feeding, due to the damage she had suffered from intestinal radiotherapy. It was what it was, she was not one to fuss – she showed me with a childish smile, how they had provided her with a freezer full of food stuck away in the now unused stables. Bags of nightfeed, and no washing up, she had said with a grin.

I was in India when I heard. We had just ‘buried’ my mother, and now Philippa too. I was stunned, autumn of 2008. I am not sure I cried at the time, the moment is stolen from me now. It is not important. While she was alive, it was if all the best of that era lived on, the flame had not been extinguished. There was hope, there was certainty. There was value in what one did or did not do. It was even more profound to me than my own private trauma, when I knew that my divorce was inevitable. That day, I sat in the kitchen and wailed, Ulla cradled me, got me to ‘pull myself together.’ This time, no cuddles, not even talking to my teacher, Chariji, was enough to shrug it off. It was not what I got from her, it was what we all had lost.

Later, as I put it a little more poetically, when I was in the Himalayas, I made the decision to share my all, everything . . .  in a book. By then it had nothing directly to do with Philippa or my mother, but they lay at the base of the idea. What we see in society today, the fear and distrust in the streets of each other, the world situation and the science as it stacks up to the truth that humanity is failing itself. The WHY of writing this book is simply to tell of a time, of a man, who chose to live the life many may wish to have lived, but most importantly – plotting the path that may encourage others to step up, aspire to their dreams of a higher life.

A calm, conscious, empathetic and joyful life . . . it lies just there, maybe out of reach just now, but it is just there. Do it! Choose love, light and harmony. And read these funny pages, knowing that eventually this dumb, middleclass kid made it to the promised land and invites you all to join him.  xx

 

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The plot thickens . . .

Yes, the ‘free’ KDP/amazon ISBN assigned to my book is only useful for sales through their websites. For regular bookshops and other platforms I will need to buy another ISBN and have this new number inserted. Beware fellow self-publishers – not everything good in life is free!!

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Distribution – harder than writing, harder than publication.

It’s the next in life’s conundrums, how to ensure that even the dear souls who want to buy my book, can get their hands on it. I discovered yesterday that the ISBN is not registered with Nielsen’s – the central registrant of ISBNs. That being so, my book is invisible to any bookshop wishing to stock/order it.

That is even after I found out that the paperback, or hard copy, is not available in any of the countries bar those served by particular amazon websites – notably USA, UK, Spain, Germany, France and Japan. Good for some, but a great wealth of english speaking people live in other countries than these.

Disaster. So, now my work is not as an author, or even as a publisher, now I have to dig deep and become a distributor, marketeer, promoter and one-man-magician. Halleluyah – it’s all to learn.

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Book sales vs making a story available.

 

It was one of the first ‘struggles’ that I had, as an author, to deal with. Is this for money? Ego, vanity publishing? or the more seriously honourable urge to get my message out? Had I answered affirmatively to the first two, this book would never had hit the light of day. No, it was always about the latter – having something to say and wanting to have folk (primarily those who would otherwize never had had the chance to hear it) the opportunity to hear it.

Now that the book is ‘published’ the next thrust must be in promoting, keeping it in the public view, so that as many as possible could take it up. Well, a new idea came to me today. IF people who like the book, or simply want to read it but cannot afford to do so, IF enough people requested it from their local libraries, THEN there would be more sales and more visibility. This would work with ordering it through book shops too.

So, think about it and see if you can support getting the message out by doing some of this with me. Share posts on social media, order the book through bookshops rather than Amazon online and try to get it in your local library.

with love, Martin.

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Publicity secured.

In tune with their promises, both the articles I wrote were in fact published to time well with the release of my book. The traveller’s ‘Wanderlust’ website ran the “Five things you must do in Chennai” and the Femine First online magazine ran the “Ten things you should know about author Martin Worthy”.

OK, they changed the photos, made the article a bit more ‘shocking’ than I would have for the Chennai one. But, when it comes to it, they both publicized the book etc.. All part of the journey, is what I came away with!! Take a look:

Wanderlust: https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/things-you-must-do-in-chennai-madras/

Female First: http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/books/finding-what-was-never-lost-martin-j-worthy-1130765.html

 

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Radio interview

Hi, just downloaded the radio interview I did with Bill Padley on TRE [Talk Radio Europe] – thought I would share it. They are an english-medium radio station with tie ups with BBC world service and Radio 4 for news and features. They showed interest and requested a proof copy of my book, and then ran this interview (live!) on 7th March. Take a listen!

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The book in photos – in colour

At least most of them! For the scrimping on the cost of production, and thus eventual retail price, I decided to publish the book with black and white photos. Not the best I know, but I didn’t want to price the book totally out of the pockets of those that may be setting out on their journeys and a bit short on cash. So, the photos that were shot in colour are uploaded here, under the heading “Photo Stream”.

Some are rather grainy, but then I am no photographer, never had a serious camera and many years have passed by between the events depicted and now. So, apologies – I felt that they might help decorate an already quite long and involved storyline. Kinda, lighten the load!!

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