I feel naked. As I am writing this I am actually wearing clothes. It’s thirty degrees outside. I just published my first novel—Human Adulthood: A Spiritual Romance. I have written and published four non-fiction books. There certainly is a level of vulnerability with those, especially since I disclose quite a bit about myself. Fiction is different.

When I started writing my book four years ago, it was just an idea. I wanted to write about a modern day prodigal son whose older brother, the one who stays home, is a fundamentalist Christian. Lots of juicy conflict there! Then I heard a talk by a woman who was a successful business owner and part-tme art model who told of her experience as an exotic dancer. She inspired another character for the book. Other characters began showing up in my mind.

I joined a writers’ group—best decision I made! They literally taught me how to write fiction. Every week I would bring six pages and they would offer critique and encouragement. This completely transformed my flat, non-fiction style where I “tell" a story, to something more poetic that “shows” the story.

Then there is the writing process itself—inconsistent, but steady for me. The writers’ group helped with the discipline of always creating new pages. Now, 108.000 words later, after too many rewrites to count, and some excellent editing by an editor, it is complete. Well, not exactly. As a saying attributed to Da Vinci explains: “A work of art is never completed, only abandoned.” So, I have abandoned my work to the marketplace and to my readers.

That’s where the vulnerability comes in. My characters explore religion, spirituality, sexuality, relations between men and women, between men and men, love, being an adult and what that means, real spiritual and emotional growth, enlightenment and being awake, different views of Christianity and non-Christian spirituality as well. Lots of opportunity for people to criticize me! Lots of opportunity for readers to complain, and judge, and get angry at me.

I have to remember the vision: "To write and publish a novel about the spiritual journey that takes into consideration maturity, sexual perspectives, love and relationships, money, and questions that we all ask such as: ‘Why am I here?’ ‘What do I want.’ ‘What is the nature of God/Spirit?’” And to offer this book without selling any specific religion or path. I think I accomplished that part, because my path is eclectic.

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said that writing a book is like walking naked down Woodward. That’s in Detroit for those of you not familiar with Michigan in the USA. I thought my first book, The Road Home: The Journey Beyond the Spiritual Quick Fix, was that walk. It felt like that. But this work of my imagination makes me feel more naked, more vulnerable, and more like a potential walking target. Especially since I have given my all to it—my time, experiences I have given to my characters, my spiritual longing, my love, my money, and risk. I have played the role of the starving artist, working on my book when the pressure has been to go find ways to make money.

I have two more works of fiction, at least, that I want to write and publish. Considering everything I’ve just written, I am completely in love with the creative process of writing and publishing a book. There is nothing like it! I was so self-conscious when I published my first book in 2001. When you are naked, there are two choices: You can feel self-conscious/ashamed/afraid, or you recognize that in your vulnerability, you are free. I am free. I hope you read the book and love it, and if you don’t—I’m still free.

Author's Bio: 

William Frank Diedrich is a speaker, executive and personal coach, and the author of five books. Find his work at http://humanadulthood.com .