The Blessings of Completing a Spiritual Novel

Through Many Lives: A Tale of Time Travel Through the Yugas by Nayaswami Savitri Simpson.

One year ago, in a blog I wrote for this website Writing a Spiritual Novel, I told the story of how I came to be writing a novel. I told of the many interesting lessons learned thus far. If you like, you can read that blog to find out how Swami Kriyananda “commissioned” me to write this novel (my first) and how it was coming along up to that point. This blog offers the rest of the story.

I am most happy to report that the book was completed and published in November, 2011 (or 311 Ascending Dwapara Yuga as we would say in Yuga — dating terms). I am glad to say it is selling very well, actually much better than I had anticipated.

One of the things Swamiji said to me, when he suggested that I start this project, was that he wanted me to “…have fun doing it.” I am glad to report that I really did have fun throughout the three and a half years it took me to finish it and get it published.

Why so long for what is a fairly short novel? Primarily it was because I couldn’t quit my day job! The writing had to be done in bits and pieces, after work, on weekends, vacations, and during seclusions — in other words, in my spare time, of which I don’t have much.

One thing I learned is that I am pretty sure this is NOT the way to write a novel, spiritual or otherwise. Sometimes I’d just get going on the development of a character or a setting — then I’d have to stop and perhaps not get back to it for many weeks. When I did get back to it, I had completely lost my train of thought about what was going on. I’d have to start from the beginning, read to the point I had left off, and pray to remember what I had had in mind for continuing the plot.

And I am here to tell you that prayer works, because usually I found I could resume the plot fairly well, without losing too much momentum.

Speaking of plots, here’s a description of Through Many Lives from the back cover: This novel is “…a captivating time-travel adventure, based on the revolutionary ‘cycles of time’ or ‘yuga’ theory propounded by Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the bestselling classic Autobiography of a Yogi) and Yogananda’s guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar. Through Many Lives provides insights into how time travel might actually take place in the future, by experiencing one’s own past and future lives. A mood of gentle excitement permeates the book, while profound spiritual teachings are presented through the medium of a compelling story.”

About the front cover: I think it is astonishingly beautiful, so let me tell you about its creation. Cris Crisman had just moved to Ananda Village from New York City. He had helped me before to create some posters; he is a very accomplished graphic artist. So I asked him help me create/design the cover. I drew a little sketch of what I had in mind.

My sketch

Final cover

Here is my sketch — it is so funky! But from it, he came up with a colorful, cosmic, and in every way perfect cover. You can see where to purchase it by clicking here if you like.

Cris went on to help me with the typesetting and many other aspects of actually getting the book published. For this he accepted no pay. This was true also of the book’s editor, Nayaswami Anandi Cornell, and many other friends who proofread the book and commented on the text. There could never be an adequate way for me to express my gratitude to all the dear friends and gurubhais who helped me with this book. But thank you anyway!

What has been the response of those who have read it? About 95% very favorable. Comments from people? Tons of really sweet compliments and testimonials of how the book has both entertained and inspired them. I did my best, but the truth is that whatever is good about the book must be credited primarily to God, Gurus, and Swamiji.

I will admit that several folks are slightly miffed at me about the ending of the book. Here’s the story on that, without giving away the plot.

I came to a time when I strongly felt it was time to stop writing the book. I needed an ending, but I couldn’t come up with a graceful one. So I prayed and meditated, and the most astonishing thing happened. My main character, Thomas, actually came to me and “dictated” the ending. I certainly did not expect that to happen, though all along, the characters did seem to have a living presence within me.

I had heard of “characters in a novel coming to life” and “telling” the author of the book how to write about them. But I wasn’t sure I really believed that. Now I do. So if you don’t like the novel’s ending, don’t blame me. Blame Thomas the Time Traveler!

If you want to read this novel, please contact me and I’ll be happy to let you know how to get one. Meanwhile, readers keep asking me about a sequel. Answer: not sure yet — still waiting for further guidance.

A Place Called Ananda

A blog by disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda