When you were a little kid, remember how exciting it was to think about Christmas morning? All the commotion, the gifts, the noise, the screaming parents. Well, maybe not that one, or the barfing dog, but you understand what I’m saying – the anticipation. Oh, how great it was gonna be…Continue reading “On Going Big or Going Home”
No Step, No Journey
You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You think up an idea, you jot some notes, you toss it into a drawer somewhere…a drawer labeled whenever. If you’re like me, things go into the drawer, but never seem to come back out.
I have a huge, mondo-sized, drawer overflowing with ideas, all labeled “whenever.”Continue reading “No Step, No Journey”
The Curse of the Black Falcon
I grew up in the pre-digital age, spending many an early adolescent hour at the worktable, building plastic model kits. Airplanes and ships – those were my specialties…
Wait, wait, wait… don’t go skipping away thinking this is some nostalgic, back-when-I-was-a-kid kind of thing. Just hang tight for just another couple of paragraphs or so and you’ll see that this applies to you – yes you.Continue reading “The Curse of the Black Falcon”
A Penny at a Time
Here’s something you hadn’t thought about. Think about this: you’re a writer, you know how it goes. You live in words. A well chosen word is worth a thousand pictures.
If you’re like me (you have my pity) you find yourself working more and more on the tiny keyboard of your phone. It’s so easy to just jot down ideas.
However. Howevuh. How Ev Er.Continue reading “A Penny at a Time”
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!
Phineas Begins Anew
I’ve added the first chapter of my most recent rewrite of Phineas Caswell, the novel, variously called Marigold’s End, Phineas Caswell, The Journal of Phineas Caswell, and The Treasure of the Tres Hermanas. Those are the ones that come to mind – I guarantee there are more.
My brother told me a story once about an old man who carved elaborate, beautiful wooden doors. He would sit at them day after day, whittling, cutting, shaping, without end. Someone asked when he knew a door was done. His answer was simple: “when someone takes it away from me.”
Phineas, the novel, is headed for online publishing: I’ve been told precisely 753 times that this story doesn’t lend itself to the young-adult publishing model. I was actually told that by the head editor at Disney – yes, that Disney. I believe that one was the Journal of Phineas Caswell…
Suzanne, the love of my life and my editor (all the same person), prompted this last rewrite. And believe me, this is the last one – I’ve twisted this poor kid so many ways from Sunday his name may as well be Larry. Reach inside, she suggested, but not for what you know, what you feel.
Beyond queasy, I didn’t know quite what she meant, but eventually figured it out.
Chapter One, over on the page called Phineas the Novel, comes from down inside. It comes from a place of regret, of something lost than can never be regained. It’s not a generated feeling – I have some regrets, believe you me. I sold that hillside, ocean-view house for $175k when today you can’t touch it for under two million… just kidding (although, I did sell that house, and I do regret not having two million bucks).
My daughter cried when she read it and said “you can’t start a children’s story this way.”
Tells me we’re on to something!
Do me a favor and visit the Phineas the Novel page and let me know what you think.