About me and the work that comes through me . . .
BORN INTO STORIES
I was born into writing and love of books and stories. Both my parents were writers of fiction (my father wrote plays aired on radio in New York when I was little), and stories, both verbal and written, were so much a part of family life that they were the very air I breathed as a child. Whether through soulful children’s books or bedtime stories my father made up for me on the spot, they nourished my imagination and kept it afloat for years. That early grounding in the power of words to inspire imagination — that knee-high intimacy to the embodied creative source — was priceless. I don’t believe any cognitive, adult way of learning how words could spin atmospheres could have come close.
I wrote my first novel in sixth grade, when the teacher gave the class that assignment. At first I didn’t know what to do; but over the course of several months, I peopled a novel with two girls my age who were best friends and lived next door, and their adventures — caring for a parakeet, sleepovers, my eleven-year-old idealization of a perfect family life. When the girls’ parents decided to tear down the wall between the two houses and live as one happy family, my vicarious joy was complete. Mr. Freedman turned out to love my novel. He acknowledged my talent by recommending me for the SP (Special Progress) class the following year in junior high school. This meant that I got to skip eighth grade and be with the “smart kids.” It changed my life. All because of a novel about two girls and a parakeet.
STUDYING ENGLISH LITERATURE
In college, I started as an art major, because I had gone to the High School of Music and Art as an art major, spending three hours each school day studying watercolor, oil painting, printmaking, and the like, as well as academic subjects. But when, in my college freshman year, I encountered a very cerebral form of art instruction that was hard to relate to personally, I switched to English literature. “After all,” I reasoned, “I’ve been around literature all my life, and I love to read. I’ll get credit for doing what I love.”
But it didn’t quite go that way. The immediacy of the reading experience disappeared. No more opening to the writer’s world and entering through the portals of his or her way of seeing, smelling the chicken cooking in the pot, feeling the weight of the summer air on the character’s (and my own) bare arms. In its place was the hunt for themes and symbols, a “game” that took itself very seriously. After a while, I could no longer read for pure pleasure. The theme/symbol-hunting apparatus machined into my head interfered with the pure experience of taking the writing into me. Still, I learned the ropes and how to write “A” papers. I won some writing awards and graduated cum laude.
And then, so steeped in literature that I didn’t know what else to do after taking a year off, I went to graduate school to get an MA in . . . English literature.
BECOMING AN EDITOR
I became an editor not by design but because a year or so in the rarified world of graduate school stirred a hunger to enter what I hoped was “the real world.” As a position as an editor at that very university was available, I applied and got the job. The outgoing editor handed me a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and a can of beer, and said, “Good luck.” I made a ton of mistakes, and learned on the job. Since I was the only editor there, serving all the professors for their monographs and books, they thought I was doing fine.
When my MA was accomplished, my then-husband and I decided to move to California. I was fortunate (given my sink-or-swim editing experience) to get in on the ground floor with an editing cooperative, and I stayed with them for over 20 years. As a freelance editor, I got to work with publishers across the country as well as locally, and with authors, businesses, and nonprofits. My skills increased exponentially, and I knew I had “arrived” when the author of a statistics book I had edited told me, “You must be very good at statistics!” Remembering how I had fine-tuned the wording but avoided all the equations, I told him, “I know nothing at all about statistics. Good editing is good editing.”
For years I took almost every project that came my way, which gave me a very wide-ranging resume. But gradually I began to specialize in subjects that actively interested me, holistic health, psychology, and spirituality being my top three. This may have been the first time (I was by now in my mid 30s) that I actually chose a direction for my work, rather than just following what came down the pike. It felt empowering to have a specialty, and I learned a lot from the greater depth made possible by reducing the width of my scope.
My own writing, for the most part in the background until then, surfaced as articles I wrote for magazines, journals, and papers. It was a thrill to see my byline under the article in print. But there wasn’t that much of me actually in it. As I had with my college English papers, I assumed that no one really wanted to know who I was, only to know what I knew and could interest readers in knowing. It felt good to develop a “style,” authoritative yet breezy. But really, it was like putting on an expensive set of clothing that, at night, would be removed and not hold my shape on the hanger. However, my resume looked great.
“IS THIS ALL THERE IS?”
As I came closer to turning 40, these impressive accomplishments began to feel like dead weight. It must have been my mid-life crisis: I had to ask myself, “Is this all there is?” The thought of more years of making cosmetic adjustments to books prior to their publication felt false to me. It just wasn’t enough, any more, to make manuscripts read better according to the conventions of publishing. I wanted something that had more — and I didn’t use the word, in those days, but — soul. More of the author’s soul. And more of my own.
I decided to go to graduate school, again — this time, in transpersonal psychology. I was hungering for depth, and for answers to questions that it had seemed no one was raising. But when I got there, I found a wealth of such questions, and a wealth of understanding. “I’m home!” I felt, as if my previous work had taught me how to perfect the corset, and these studies were teaching me how to take it off. I learned about object relations and the mother-infant bond. I learned about natural stages of development if nothing big interferes — and what can happen when something does, and tools for repair and renewal. I learned about what shuts the spirit down, and what may open and restore it. And I met up with places in myself that hadn’t seen the light of day for close to 40 years, if at all — the pure child who had once listened raptly to stories and opened to let their magic work in her.
My classmates all intended to become therapists, and I was tending that way myself. But in learning all sorts of nonverbal modalities that opened me to myself in ways that words alone had not been able to do — through encountering the inner world beyond the cognitive, replete with its challenges and its intimate, ultimate callings — I felt guided to bring these learnings into my work with people who wanted to write.
ENTER “WRITING FROM THE DEEPER SELF”
The name gave itself to me one day while I was walking down a little-trafficked road. “Writing from the Deeper Self,” it whispered from within. To understand just what that meant would take years of spiritual seeking, psychological inner work, and explorations of presence through writing. But my yearning to see myself mirrored more deeply, and to have that kind of influence on books, brought me to discover and create a way of writing that I did call “Writing from the Deeper Self.”
I started by teaching workshops and small groups. Offering verbal suggestions for entering the writing through initially nonverbal means, I “held the space” as my students dove and ascended into their writing, and emerged with pages glistening with aliveness and universality. I was as grateful as they were! I taught privately, for writers’ groups, and for a time, for the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, where the workshop participants were deeply present inside themselves, even if the writing aspect was somewhat new. This told me that I wanted to specialize in working with people for whom the inner life mattered. It was what most fascinated me.
Working one-on-one turned out to be my best fit. Being able to really listen to the person, track what was happening, and be present to the process was much more my style than insisting on an external structure for them to follow.
ENTER BOOK DEVELOPMENT
Using the Writing from the Deeper Self process to help people write books was simply a natural extension. And I had worked on books all that time as an editor and consultant. I responded to the long-term nature of a book, how it let you go deep if you wanted to. And I liked the longer-term nature of the relationship with clients. As I came to know them better, their books and journeys lived in me, and I felt blessed to encounter the book at this early a stage — calling it out of the invisible realm and helping the author bring it into physical reality. In the earlier part of my career, a book was viewed largely as a product, a commodity. Now, it was a sacred journey, and at its end was the resonant, breathing book, which people could read and use to find their way home.
So, applying Writing from the Deeper Self to writing books, I called myself a “Book Developer,” based on my memory of photos developing in a darkroom, where you got to see a faint trace the final print emerge gradually. I did not want to dictate an assignment; I wanted to be more of a gardener, a midwife, and give the natural creative process the chance to show itself. I also wanted to bring books that truly healed into the world — not only having a healing subject, but also a healing presence — so that readers could take in the medicine of the book just by reading it.
And that’s what I’m doing now. I get to bring the best of my journey and artistry to the wonderful people I get to work with. I get to return to my love of the creative process — the “something” from “nothing” that is our own particular emulation of the Divine creative impulse — and help bring that forth in people who value the inner life and want to bring its treasures into the world.
My professional awards include:
Listings in Who’s Who and Who’s Who of American Women for editorial and writing contributions
The Thumbtack Elite Service Award for “Best Editor/Book Developer in the San Francisco Bay Area” (2015 and 2016)
Thank you for reading what’s on this page. I hope it was interesting and meaningful to you.
— Naomi Rose