Saying Thank You to Those Who Came With Me on the Journey of Writing My First Novel
In Lessons From My Grandmother, we learn that Yeukai is a driven, determined, and ambitious young woman who relentlessly pursues her goals. She achieves her dreams of earning a top notch education, establishing herself on a career path with bright prospects, and carving out what seems to be an American dream life—at least from the outside looking in. Not evident to her, as she is busy putting external notches on her belt, is that somewhere along the way, she forgot what is important in life, she forgot her purpose, she forgot the wisdom handed down to her from her grandmother. And then we watch as Yeukai returns to the wisdom of her grandmother and turns her life around to rediscover and live her life purpose.
Now, let me share my experiences during this journey of writing Yeukai’s story.
What an incredible journey it was for me! And it was a journey that I did not take alone. It was amazing how many supporters stepped up to make my dream of bringing Lessons From My Grandmother to print come true. I particularly want to call out my friends, family members, and colleagues who volunteered their time, energy, and skills to this project because they believed in me and they felt a resonance with the message that I share in the book.
The front cover art might be the first thing to grab your attention about the book. It’s an original oil painting created by my talented friend Mary Pablo. Mary’s incredibly beautiful piece captures the essence of the story—intimate, inspirational, and full of grace. After the book was finished and the first few copies printed, I revealed a secret I hadn’t told anyone up to that point: I told Mary and everyone else that seeing Mary’s finished art had inspired me to raise the quality of my manuscript to match the quality of her oil painting. Unbeknownst to her or anyone else, Mary had challenged me to reach deeper into myself to find the real story that needed to be told. It meant delaying publication of the book for months, but it was important to me that readers inspired by her art would find an equally compelling story inside the book. I did the best I could, because that is all any one of us can do. Now you, the readers, can tell me what you think. How did I do?
A very special thank you goes to my friend and colleague Sungmi Um, who was many things on the journey of Lessons From My Grandmother from idea to print. She enthusiastically read several iterations of the manuscript, each time paying attention to detail. It was Sungmi’s curiosity about Shona customs that made me realize the unique opportunity I had in this book to highlight the rich culture and traditions of my ancestral roots. Our numerous conversations were instrumental in clarifying my thoughts on what I wanted to share. Sungmi was also the official photographer, the “artistic director,” the proof-reader, and the Sunday dinner host.
A big thank you goes to my friend and colleague Edward Mancini who volunteered to be the developmental editor on the book project. Ed stepped up for me in ways I could never have imagined. He took the time to read several drafts of the manuscript, paying attention to its structure and flow and scrubbing it of grammatical errors, inconsistencies, and superfluous content. Without his professional editing skills, the book would have been twice as long and the message lost in the shuffle. And that would have been an opportunity missed.
I’m deeply indebted to other friends and colleagues who generously volunteered to review the manuscript during its various phases of development. I particularly thank Susanna Mac, Dikran Toroser, Kim Cremers, and Linda Rice, who provided invaluable feedback that was incorporated in the book.
A heartfelt thank you goes to my “consultants” on aspects of Shona traditions and perspectives on Zimbabwe: my brother Wilbert Mutomba and my friends and colleagues Sipho Gumbo and Bothwell Fundira. Their comments and corrections were instrumental in keeping Yeukai’s story authentic.
I thank my family and friends for being there for me. I thank my parents for supporting me in everything I have ever wanted to do, and for believing in me at all times. And I am especially grateful to my mother for reading the book during its development (despite failing eyes). Ndinotenda Shava, ndinotenda VaChihera vangu—the book is richer for it!
Experiencing all the support around my book project gave me a boost of confidence and inspiration. It allowed me to just relax, focus on the writing and allow the story to come to me. In my research on some of the topics covered in my book, I came across the profound work of many awakened teachers. Sometimes I had to stop writing for weeks, to allow myself to go deep into the knowledge that others were sharing, either through books, audio tapes, or videos. I learnt some of the practices shared in the book, and I witnessed my life transforming into the peaceful existence that I now enjoy.
I wrote this story with you, the readers, in mind, and I thank you for choosing to read this book. I feel blessed that the circle is complete. I believe that through our collective efforts—each and every one of us—we can raise the energy of this world to be a place where we experience love, kindness, and compassion in our everyday lives. I believe we can raise the energy of this world to be our heaven on earth.
Above all, I thank Source for my life and the lives of all the forms in creation—human or otherwise. We are all a part of the dance of life in Source.
And what a dance!