First, admissions: I’m sitting on a folding chair in a gym in Anaheim, CA, surrounded by at least a hundred screaming, volleyball-playing teenage girls. I have not had enough sleep, and I’m terrifically annoyed by the itty-bitty keyboard on this phone that keeps recommending words I don’t want to use.Continue reading “Take Your Day”
Month: March 2019
Forget the Setup, Eddie
What’s the difference between a gorilla and a pound of oranges?
Once, in a galaxy far, far, etc., I had my first novel roll across an editor’s desk at Random House. The editor liked the book, but suggested a small gaggle of changes before they would sign it.Continue reading “Forget the Setup, Eddie”
Sit Down, Robin Hood
Over on Twitter I found something that may be the biggest deal of your lifetime. It could also be junk science, so don’t quit your day job yet.
Caveats first: this event occurred in quantum physics, which is seriously the science of the strange. The event that happened involved just two subatomic particles, of which there are billions in just your finger. The event falls apart when even a third particle is involved.Continue reading “Sit Down, Robin Hood”
Atta Boy, Fred
Why I like the Flintstones movie – the first one, with John Goodman and Rick Moranis. There’s a writer’s tale in this, I promise…Continue reading “Atta Boy, Fred”
Smelling Like a Duck
If it looks like a duck, and floats like a duck, but doesn’t smell like a duck, is it a duck? Or is it a decoy? A fake duck? Perhaps a wannabe duck.
You’re a writer – you know how it goes. You pour your heart and soul into your work, you polish every single word, and then you launch it out into the world. But… how?
Once I was in a restaurant and the waitress asked me what I wanted. I told her I’d been thinking about the turkey sandwich, to which she replied “and what did you decide?”
I used to think that the difference between writers and folks who thought they’d like to take a stab at writing is that writers write. I still believe that to be true, but perhaps not as thoroughly true as I once thought.
Suppose you wrote your brains out, but shoved all your work into the furnace and sent it up in flames? If no one reads it, did it have meaning?
Obviously it did to you, but only to you. You’re a writer – you have a story to tell. If you don’t tell it, or if you tell it only to yourself, well, are you a writer?
It’s a long way to get to the point that we must publish. My books are at Smashwords – yes, that was a shameless plug, but it illustrates a point.
Once upon a time we would hawk our words to agents who would hawk our words to publishers who would bring our words to the world at large. In Shakespeare’s time, Will had to hawk his words to his publisher – there was no agent – and together they hawked his words to the world.
I’m thinking that Mr. Shakespeare’s paradigm has returned, now that the writer’s world has turned into a Wild West of Self Publishing.
I found this great website, run by Joanna Penn, called the Creative Penn. Her site is full of good ideas and great tools and is generally a lot of fun to wander about. While I don’t know Ms. Penn, and only recently discovered her site, I believe there is a lesson there for us all.
You, my writer friend, and I, unless we are to be mistaken for decoys, or wannabe ducks, must actively, and intensely, pursue the task of hawking our words to the world. It’s up to you and me.
Unless we do that, I believe that we are deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are somehow successful authors for having published ourselves. While that is truth, it an incomplete and rather shallow truth.
You, my friend, and I, must embrace the fact that if we do not actively market our work, we do not, in fact, smell like a duck.
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Five Years to Independence: Year Four – The Year of Sustainability
Wow, sustainability is a buzzy word, isn’t it? Was this taco sustainably produced? What about that triple-spice latte? It’s an overused word in these times of growing awareness, but it applies here.
If you’ve followed along in my sustainably-produced diatribe, you know that Year One was the Year of No Regrets, Year Two was the Year of Confidence, and Year Three was the Year of Accomplishment. All these years are aimed at helping you, the hidden artist, bring your talent to the fore, that you might live your life as the creative individual you truly are.
So, here we are at Year Four, the year with the trendy name. What does it mean? How can talent be sustainable. It’s not like coffee, after all.
This whole five-year program is about building and counting artistic success. You stopped denying that you were talented, you adopted that talent, and then you went out and proved to the world that you are an accomplished talent. I am so proud of you.
The Year of Sustainability is all about doing it again. And again. And again. This is the year in which you make your artistic existence real. It’s a subtle, but very important difference from the Year of Accomplishment.
In that year, you did the big thing – in my case, I leapt away from the world of never-ending, soul-stealing customer service jobs and became a technical writer. A writer, a real writer! Look! It’s on my business card!
The Year of Sustainability is the year in which you prove that your success wasn’t a one-off wonder, a Looking Glass/Brandy hit. This is the year in which you build the structure to keep repeating that success.
In my Year of Sustainability, I proved to the world that I really was a writer by getting myself hired as a technical writer. But then I had to prove it to myself and the company that I was worthy of the title. I did it by staying really focused, being willing to learn, and always open to growing in the job.
That’s your job this year. You must embrace your accomplishment, and make it repeatable, reliable.
Where we go from here is The Year of Independence, in which you let go of the previous you and launch into the abyss of success. Whoa, there’s an image, huh?
Now, the Year of Sustainability, like the Year of Accomplishment, may take more than one year. While it may have taken you a while to reach your accomplishment, it may equally take a touch more than a year to make your success sustainable.
But, the whole point of this exercise is to get it into your head that you are a successful, talented person. You can be the creative individual that you’ve always thought you were. You can do it.
So, get your head around that fact that you have made a huge accomplishment, but it was just the first of many. This is the year in which you prove, to yourself and the universe, that you are a successful, talented individual. Your art is your life.
Okay, true story: my road from empty customer service rep to fulfilled writer has a caveat that we may as well look at.
I’ll admit it: technical writing is not a glamorous job. It does not fulfill my need to tell the stories in my head. It doesn’t sell my novels, and doesn’t bring me fame and fortune.
What this job does, and the reason I count it such a big success, is that it establishes me, my name, my talent, as those of a writer. Yes, it’s technical writer. But the second word in that title means everything.
In this job, I’m surrounded by writers, most of whom are journalists. I speak the language of writers. My work, albeit assembly instructions, is read all over the world every day. These are not the stories that I want to tell, but they are stories that I am paid to tell, and they make my house payment and send my kids to college. That to me is a success.
When I look in a mirror, I don’t see a customer service rep. I look at a writer.
When you look in a mirror, this year I want you to see a writer, or a dancer, a singer, a painter, an actor… I want you to see the you that you know you are. Even if, like me, it’s just a version of who you want to be.
I’m very proud of you. Keep going!