Welcome to Kismuth
Kismuth Books started in 2012, and in the time since we’ve been hopping about wondering what we stand for, exactly, and who we are for. What value we offer has become clearer through experiments in writing from the heart, both in the form of essays, columns, memoirs and even a co-created anthology with guests who opted in to take part. A new direction is emerging for Kismuth in 2017. More interactive spaces for conversation, for learning and co-discovery. We are ready to try something new this year. Let me tell you more about why this work matters to us.
What inspires you to host these interactive online courses?
The beauty of publishing today, to me, has everything to do with the two-way nature of communication. We can talk together in interactive spaces and write things that we would never have been able to write individually, before. Gone are the old times of quill and parchment, of sitting about alone in a lonely room wondering what to say, what words might be of interest to those in different places and future times.
No one person’s voice is any longer that important: and that’s a good thing. What matters today is how we create the spaces for really intriguing ideas to emerge organically. How we can incubate a small community, in hosted, invite-only spaces that allow us all to breathe a little differently, together. When I first started writing, I was a newspaper journalist. I listened to lots of people and wrote their stories, plus tried to capture the zeitgeist of the day when I learned about one topic and built relationships with experts in those fields (environmental engineering and green building). Later I wanted to write my own stories, so I published the Kismuth series as eBooks (Volumes I-III) and put them on this website (see the top menu, if you’re curious). When that was done, I couldn’t help but want to try to engage with others and discover their ideas. It’s kind of important to me to keep learning, to keep traveling but also to keep in touch and build rooms for progressive growth in our conversation. I don’t want to always be starting over; I want to be part of a community that is growing and evolving, all the time. That’s why I want to host the interactive online courses.
It’s a way for me to get to know some people who have been part of the Kismuth mailing list (2012-2016) one week at a time through posts in online forums. Everything is in protected-pages. We are trying things, learning as we go, and creating new paragraphs of text by inspiring one another.
It’s really cool, and not unlike creative sessions I remember from brainstorming article ideas with my editors in old newsrooms, or sketching a plan for a composition for an illustration or design commission, or even going to a new place with very little agenda except to capture with my heart what I think will resonate and lodge there… namely, the readiness to engage with the new, the near, the now and the next. If that’s very esoteric, I apologize. But I think there is a particular quality of people who are best aligned with Kismuth’s programs: they are curious, they are not looking to ‘get’ something, they are fiercely inspired when they are honestly heard, and they are appreciative of the work it takes to hold the space for authentically relating together. In small groups. No more than 12 at any given time for our programs. It’s fun, it’s light, and it’s very important to have this kind of space. The Third Space, in some ways, and in other ways, a Writers Circle.
What are you committed to, despite its challenges?
Despite inelegantly dancing around for 5 years trying to figure out what it was that Kismuth Books wanted to be about, I’m persisting with these courses. I’m going to keep on making spaces like this for us to get to know one another, through conversation, and in the process of talking together getting to better know our selves. I’m inspired a lot by J. Krishnamurti, Carl Jung, and the philosopher-physicist Neils Bohr. Bohr said, ‘No, no, no. You’re not thinking, you’re just being logical.’ In an age where rationalism seems to win over feeling one’s way towards the truth of a thing, it’s inspiring to me to learn that Bohr felt this way about seeking magic, staying playful and open, and not boxing himself up into believing a thing IS a certain way (enter Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle…), but what our observations tell us. Writing is a way for us to refine our skills in observation. Reflection through writing is a way for us to hold a mirror to ourselves, and take an honest look at who we really are. Instead of being scared to see the person there, what if we could embrace her, learn to smile fully, let go of the burdens that we perceive society places on us, and hear and see and be heard and be seen with the others also participating in our circle? I’m committed to continuing to host these dialogue forums. For the moment, I’m just offering the two that have been working best. SELF is a 1:1 conversation with just me, and THE FORUM lets people connect across timezones each week when I send a framing question on a Monday at 7AM USEST. Really fun.
What do you aspire to accomplish that you haven’t already?
I really want to bring more to the Kismuth forums, to bring smart and creative people to join us in these conversations. So that we can all discover new ways of thinking, together. I want to make sure to be inclusive as well as encouraging, and to create a very warm and inviting space for each member to discover her way towards a real milestone of personal growth. Something I learned when I asked another person in another country why I should be part of his community was this. You really want to be clear about it, when you invite people. You want them to know, with definite certainty (as much as possible), the answer to one question: ‘Who am I becoming when I choose to join this process?’
For Kismuth, I hope it will be this: a more critical, more inspired, more internationally aware, more reflective, more self-driven, and more eloquent (in writing) person. Most importantly, a person who began ready to try new things and who will, as a result of joining, feel even more confident that not-knowing is Just Fine and that Trying New Things is a lovely way to approach life, art, writing, and the rest.
Does this resonate?