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Writers Inspiring Change feature book review: It Takes Only One

IT TAKES ONLY ONE by M.J. Harden, is a thought-provoking and intensely insightful read. Without spoiling the story, we follow, in an allegorical or symbolic sense, the journey of a young unborn, as they are spirited from one land or place or locale, to another, meeting with sages, animals personified as enlightened ones, witches and oracles, on and on, in a search for the ultimate wisdom about life and existence. It is beautifully written, the prose almost sings to you. One encounters bits and pieces of wonderful wisdom along the way, such lines as: “Never do without daring, never ask without caring. There’s a motto to live by.” “We lock ourselves into our roles and forget who we truly are. Always playing a part, often as very bad actors.” “Our job is to keep it light. Keep it bright. Show the way to those who’re right.” The author provides historical explanations and references, and excellent memos about characters and associations to cultural beliefs, icons and gods. It is a pleasant and easy read, one which leaves you feeling better, more enlightened somehow, and certainly with a sense of wonder about the bigger picture. The thread of the story at the beginning might seem confusing to the reader, but once you grasp onto it, the rest of the read is smooth. Recommended for the reader who savors insightful and thoughtful books.

Review by International Writers Inspiring Change

About M.J. Harden

In my writing career, which has lasted decades, I have been a journalist, an editor and a fiction writer. I have written an hour-long documentary on Hawaiian culture. I have published several local magazines; I have written books and articles and I have been a newspaper reporter. But, life has not been single-focused. I live in rural Maui, so nature is equally important to work. And, nature has also been part of my work since tourism runs our local economy. For three decades I have owned the largest hiking company in Hawaii, called Hike Maui, with 30 to 40 employees, 15 tour vans and way too much insurance. I also have a sister adventure company, Rappel Maui, rappelling down Maui’s waterfalls.

What prompted you to be a writer? I always knew I would write. I never had to figure out my career, it was obvious to me at a young age. At eight years old I had my first journalism job, reporting my area’s news in a kid’s community newsletter. That led to bigger and better jobs, but all had the same foundation of investigating and reporting on my fellow man. Curiosity plays a large role also.

What do readers like about your writing? Because I’m trained as a journalist, I write in a straight-forward, to-the-point manner. I’m not verbose, yet In fiction I value poetic, symbolic phrasing. Is there a message woven into your writing? In my journalistic writing, no, there is no message–it is generally down-to-earth and factual. This is the style I use in my book of interviews Voices of Wisdom Hawaiian Elders Speak. My most recent fiction book, It Takes Only One, is all about the message. I use symbolism, mythology, mysticism and metaphors to illustrate the message that “It Takes Only One” to do the job you are here to accomplish.

How do you inspire others with your writing? Most importantly, you inspire with your story. If the tale itself elevates mind and emotion, then you have a good start. Next, great stories must be written well. Good writing is succinct; it flows well from sentence to sentence, and, frankly, it sings. If it sings its own song, then the spirit soars. Why did you write “It Takes Only One?” I wanted to write what I was truly here to write, and so I asked: “Tell me what you want and I will do it.” It was not a prayer or a demand, it was a genuine request. I wanted to write something that mattered. I asked the same question three days in a row, and then, in dribs and drabs, the story unfolded. It was unique, not like anything that I, as a journalist, had written before. But I trusted it and I liked it. The characters took their time coming, in fact it was two decades before I knew it was finished. It was a magical journey.

IT TAKES ONLY ONE is an allegorical tale of a young spirit, a baby with no name, no gender, no obvious race, no particular nationality—just humanity—a literary “every man” on a hero’s journey into self knowledge. Our Baby Blue is a clear and empty slate who meets characters beloved the world over who teach Baby that “It Takes Only One” to do the job you are born to do. Legendary and mythological characters who share their wisdom include redwood trees, Scottish witches, moon goddesses, elephants, Quan Yin, Alice and the Wonderland characters, the Greek Oracle at Delphi, the Arthurian legend Fisher King and more. This adventure into truth and wisdom becomes an odyssey of discovery: how to save the world (and yourself) as only you can.

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