At Bstudio Style we have the enormous privilege and honor to present to you, our friends and clients, an outstanding beautiful life, trajectory, simplicity, so welcoming and caring of our dear friend Beth Kempton, which open the door to us and share her life in her unique way! Big thank you!
The love for life and the beauty of imperfections… , we certainly love this interview and we wish you love it too, enjoy!
Miguel A. Briones
“The Power of Thoughts”
By Mariana Briones
Beth Kempton is a Japanologist and a bestselling self-help author and writer mentor, whose books have been translated into 24 languages. She has had a twenty-year love affair with Japan, and has made it her work to uncover life lessons and philosophical ideas buried in Japanese culture, words and ritual. Beth has two degrees in Japanese and has a rare understanding of Japanese cultural and linguistic nuances. She is also a qualified yoga teacher and Reiki Master, trained in the Japanese tradition in Tokyo.
As a mentor, Beth offers support and inspiration to writers and dreamers, teaching how words and ideas can heal, inspire, uplift, connect, and help make the most of our time in this beautiful world. She is also founder of Do What You Love, a company which produces and delivers inspiring online courses for living well, with over 100,000 alumni and a community of 250,000 people worldwide. She is currently working on her fifth book, ‘Kokoro: Japanese wisdom for a life well-lived’, a follow up to her bestseller ‘Wabi Sabi’, from her home near the sea in Devon, England. A proud mother of two girls, here she shares what it is like to become a published author and how she keeps the ink flowing.
Mariana Briones: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Beth Kempton: I think I discovered that in reverse. I remember a complete sense of powerlessness walking through Kansai Airport the first time I arrived in Japan, aged 19, with barely any working knowledge of Japanese. My senses were assaulted from every direction – the airport announcements, the kanji (Chinese characters) on all the signs, the chatter of people in the Arrivals hall – and it was overwhelming. Shortly afterwards I met the host family I would live with for the next year. I remember my host mother giving me a tour of her home in Kyoto dialect. I recognized almost nothing except for a few random words that we had been told to look out for, including mongen, the word for curfew. I had to be home by 10pm each evening. After that every school day, every homework assignment, every conversation in the street and on the bus contributed to the slow retrieval of that power of communication. Being tossed around in a sea of foreign words is motivation indeed.
MB: What is your favorite childhood book and how did it influence you?
BK: The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton, the first in the Magic Faraway Tree series. It’s about three siblings (one of them called Beth!) who move to the country and discover a magical tree near their new home. Every time they climb up it they find new lands at the top of the tree. It was written in 1939, but shows the timeless nature of the imagination. Part of me still looks up in any wood or forest, half-hoping that this tree might be that tree… It opened my mind to the possibility of reality not being exactly what we think it is.
MB: When did you realize you were an author?
BK: I have written for as long as I can remember, but I think the label ‘author’ is attached to the writing of published books. My first book Freedom Seeker came out a month before my fortieth birthday. Writing it was an incredible experience of personal transformation – I literally wrote myself free after a time of feeling trapped in my life – and after that the fact that anyone else might read it was really a bonus. Writing a book can be a surreal experience, because something intangible hovering at the edge of your awareness slowly takes shape until it takes the form of an actual thing you can hold in your hands. I am sure no author ever forgets the feeling of holding their first book for the first time. It’s like a rite of passage, and I think that’s when I first tried on the author label for real. Five years later I’m now working on my fifth and sixth books simultaneously, and I am grateful every day that I get to do this and call it work.
MB: How do you protect and nourish your craft?
BK: By choosing writing over and over again, every day, and scheduling it in before anything else.
By getting up at 5am to harness the magic in that just-waking state when everything is quiet and my mind has not been polluted by the news of the day.
By dedicating myself to the craft, and loving the process, while trying to detach from the outcome as far as possible.
By always having at least one book on the go, and often reading several at once.
By keeping my writing close, until it is ready and robust enough to show itself.
MB: What is your writing ritual like?
BK: My regular practice is to rise at 5am, turn on the fairy lights over the stove in the kitchen, and make tea and toast in the dark of early morning. I carry this into my study, light a candle, take a few moments to breathe deeply, and begin. I usually write the time and date, and my location, to bring me to this place in this moment. Sometimes I will read a poem, or ask a question to the page, and then I just let the ink spill. I also write in other places, but that’s my ritual when I am at home.
MB: What do you do on tough days when you need extra inspiration to work?
BK: Listen to music. Read poetry. Move my body. Paint. Play with my children. Do yoga. Talk it out. Do an oracle card reading. Go for a walk. Then come back to the page.
MB: What were the challenges to get your first book published and how did you tackle them?
BK: With non-fiction you generally write the book proposal before the manuscript itself, and I think the greatest challenge for a first time non-fiction author is grappling with your idea to the point that you have enough clarity to pitch it to an agent and/or publisher, without forcing it into a certain shape too soon. Writing a commercially compelling book proposal is a significant undertaking, which is why I now teach people how to do it through my Book Proposal Masterclass, to make their path to publication easier.
MB: Can you describe the moment that you became a published author? How did that feel like?
BK: You can see for yourself in this video! I had the rare opportunity to go to the printers and see it coming off the press for the first time. I had been through so much getting the book finished that it was an emotional moment.
MB: What advice do you have for up and coming writers?
BK: Be interested in the world around you, in other people and in your inner life. Ask questions. Seek out the answers. Write a lot. Read a lot. And keep choosing writing over the many other things you can do with your time.
MB: How has Japan enriched your perspective?
BK: I first lived in Japan at the age of nineteen – a formative time to be away from family and the structures and social fabric I had grown up with. Japan opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the world, and experiencing beauty in new ways. I adore the mixture of tradition and modernity, and am fascinated by the tension of the contrasts co-existing everywhere in Japanese life. There is something about the place that always makes me feel like anything is possible, and in that way it made me more courageous, showing me that wonderful things can happen when you are prepared to explore without a plan. And of course the experience of researching and writing my book Wabi Sabi led me to some of the most thought-provoking conversations I have ever had. It made me question many of the assumptions I had carried for years, and led me to walking through the world more calmly, with a sense of reverence for the miracle of all of it.
MB: Aside from Japan, what are your top three destinations and why?
BK: Antarctica – there is nowhere on earth like it.
The South West of England where I live – the combination of sea and farmland is a joy that I am grateful for every day Italy – food, wine, sunshine, history, art. What’s not to love? It’s where I went on my honeymoon and my eldest daughter is named after the town Siena
MB: If you could share advice with your younger self, what would that be?
BK: Exactly what I wrote in my school yearbook – Life is what you make it.
About Mariana Briones our collaborator
Mariana Briones is a Mexican US based journalist and producer. She has published articles for magazines including Newsweek, Elle, Marie Claire and Cine Premiere, and has worked as line producer for Canal + and Television Espanola among other networks.
Throughout her career she has interviewed over 100 international personalities including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood, Diane von Furstenberg, Bradley Cooper, Alex Wang and Oscar de la Renta.
Based in Miami Mariana is now a special editions editor for Ferraez Publications of America and a freelance PR constant. She recently launched Mariana Basso, an artisanal line of gold and silver plated accessories and decorative objects made by silversmiths in Mexico City.