Originally posted on Cobb Life Magazine
Andrew H. Housley knows what it’s like to go through immense change.
Housley, who grew up in Cobb County and graduated from Walton High School, is a yogi, IT professional, artist, singer-songwriter, master gardener, spiritual teacher, adventurer, poet, and most recently, author.
This year, Housley has released his debut novel “Waiting Impatiently,” a tale about a man’s spiritual metamorphosis. Published by Atmosphere Press, story follows Ian, a well-worn yoga teacher and Zen student, at the precipice of his life. As the world begins to shut down in the face of a pandemic, Ian attempts to accept the gift of self-examination while burying the pieces of his painful past.
Through Ian’s journey, the reader is offered the uniquely poignant perspective of a man’s internal struggle with “Self.” In a desperate moment, he arrives at the Monastery, a place where time stands still. Here, he finds solace to soothe his soul and meditate on the Zen riddle, “Can you manifest your true nature while staring at the pieces of your broken heart?”
Housley lives and teaches around Atlanta. He’s been practicing yoga for more than 20 years. He is affectionately known as “The Machine” for his ability to push himself with a single-minded focus to achieve any goal he sets for himself. To purchase “Waiting Impatiently,” logon to www.andrewhhousley.com.
CL: How did the idea for “Waiting Impatiently” come about?
AH: I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of living in a Buddhist monastery and what it would be like to be in isolation with my Self. In the early days of the pandemic, I lived with a friend. Life was full of uncertainty at the time; we just sat around and spent hours having lengthy, in-depth conversations about various topics, from spiritual attachment to how to make yogurt. When everyone had to shelter in place, I used the opportunity of the lockdown as a makeshift monastery. It provided the time to examine my struggles with the human condition of attachment, personal history and how it causes us so much pain if we allow it.
CL: What separates this book from other pieces you’ve written? What connects it?
AH: “Waiting Impatiently,” was my first attempt at writing a novel. My second novel “Invisible Sun,” set for release this fall, is a prequel of sorts.
CL: What can readers expect from “Waiting Impatiently”?
AH: Who am I to set the reader’s expectations? I hope the reader discovers an open, raw, funny and emotional exploration into the struggle of the human condition and the transformation that awaits all of us if we open our eyes to see it.
CL: How does inspiration strike you?
AH: Inspiration never arrives fully formed or without a bit of a struggle. You have to make yourself ready, open, and available to it. Consistent attendance is required.
CL: Do you have any rituals/best practices for writing?
AH: Creating a consistent ritual is essential for me. I schedule a time to write every day from 2-4 p.m. and stick to it. When my writing time begins, the first thing I do is turn off my phone. There’s something very liberating about digitally disconnecting and creating space for myself.
Some days the words will flow, and I can write pages, while other days, I might scrap to complete a single seemingly throwaway sentence. I attempt to treat the most prolific and sparse days with the same sense of evenness by telling myself, “You’ve done enough today, and that’s fine.”
I scratch down threads of ideas on half-sheets of paper and leave them in a pile in my work area if I get stuck while writing; I read these threads and sometimes use them as launching points to weave into the story’s fabric.
I never read what I write, ever. So I don’t edit. Editing is a slippery slope, and since I’m constantly ruminating on the writing, I don’t want to stop the process by continually second-guessing myself.
CL: What advice can you share with other local aspiring authors?
AH: Be natural. Don’t confine yourself in the box of what you think the reader wants to read. Arrive every day without expectation. Work to cultivate an understanding within yourself that the immediate gratification of “success” or completion is not the end goal of the process. The simple, consistent act of showing up is enough.
The world is full of cheerleaders like friends and family who tell you that your work is excellent and award-worthy. Your work is probably superb, and your “Rah! Rah!” support system is fantastic. Still, to truly excel at your medium, you must surround yourself with professionals who can challenge you in a constructive and non-judgemental way. Learning to receive feedback from people who understand the medium and industry can go a long way to helping you sharpen your tool as a writer.
CL: How has your environment influenced your work?
AH: I spend a lot of time walking in the woods to percolate and collect my thoughts before each writing session. I believe having a dedicated writing space is imperative. Having time and space is integral to my success.
CL: What’s your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite?
AH: I don’t particularly appreciate reading what I write. I’m my own harshest critic. I enjoy using the protagonists I create in my stories to explore the possibilities of new directions, dialogues, or thought processes in my own life similarly, as an actor uses a character in a movie or play.
CL: Who are you currently reading?
AH: No Time To Lose – Pema Chodron
CL: Why did you start writing? What made you take the plunge?
AH: Synchronicity. The story presented itself when I was emotionally and intellectually prepared to articulate it. My partner Sujata encouraged me from the start. Without her support and faith in me, the story would have never made it to the page.
CL: What/who is your favorite book/author of all time? Why?
AH: There are so many for so many different reasons.
Siddartha - Hermann Hesse
Ask the Dust – John Fante
The Stranger – Albert Camus
Death on Credit - Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Growth of the Soil - Knut Hamsun
Black Rain – Masuji Ibuse
The Ring of the Way – Taisen Deshimaru
CL: What makes your work stand out from other authors in the same genre?
AH: The unfiltered access to the protagonist Ian’s simultaneously introspective, snarky and heartbreaking voice is unique to the genre of spiritualism. The reader can connect to his thoughts, interactions and metamorphosis in real-time. I’ve found that rarely in literature is the male voice so vulnerable and relatable. Societal stereotypes tell us that men can’t be reflective, sensitive or display emotions. We’re fed rubbish that we must push the feelings down, rub some dirt on it and suck it up.
The following is an excerpt of Andrew Housley’s latest book “Waiting Impatiently.”
…I stop to ponder the beauty before me. I climb the thick trunk of an ancient tree shaped like a hand. Sitting in the palm of this proud giant oak, its five large fingers extend upwards protectively, surrounding me. I can see further past the scattered clumps of sleeping dogwoods over the sliver of a creek that trickles water down the hill’s narrow serpentine spine to the river that waits in the distance. Twenty yards away stands the dead remains of a tree like the one I sit on. Its hollow limbs gripped in the heavy chains of thick green vines, slowly overtaking, dismantling and pulling it back to the Earth. An immense sadness overcomes me.
I think about the two trees; what they had witnessed in their 100 years of existence. Against all odds, they accidentally caught hold of life at the same time. They struggled through periods of drought, pollution, heavy rains, high winds and more than one inconsiderate dog together. They most likely suffered but somehow kept going through this time, becoming more resilient in the supporting shade of each other’s growth. At some point, whether from lightning or disease, a companion in life gave way to die. Leaving the other alone in this beautiful place cursed to watch its partner gradually disintegrate. I cry tears of despair; the nature of time can be so cruel.
Protected inside the healing hand, I fight for stillness but quickly resign my attack. With my eyes shut tight, I gradually give myself to the power and energy of the place. My mind floods with koans.
“Am I like this mighty oak? What is my true nature when I think of this tree?”
“Will I pass through this time of uncertainty and continue to thrive?”
“Will I adapt and grow?”
“Am I doomed to live this life alone?”
“Will I arrive differently on the other side?”
“Yes, I’ll be unable to hide the twists, knots and broken limbs that come with this change. Wear them like a badge of honor.”
My heart swells with compassion. Without effort, I connect with that feeling, wrap my arms around it, feel the warmth of its grip. In that caress, I am lifted. Like the wind through the trees, my soul screams to be free, and thoughts of my father, his painful dance with the nature of time, crowd the vacant lot of my mind.
A text from my father. “I’m dying.” Simple, direct, devoid of emotion, and a matter of fact—the only way he knew how to communicate. He never texted or called, for that matter. We hadn’t spoken in years. Some things were better left unsaid.